India is progressing and one major indicator of this advancement is the position being enjoyed by women in public sphere. Every place you see, everywhere you go, you see instances of girl power such as gangs of women out to have their own fun in discos, movies and other entertainment destinations. You see women-centric films and serials being made and advertisements, which show how powerful and independent women are in the big cities.
In the professional domain too women are doing well with an ever increasing number of individuals studying and entering the workforce. Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram are the biggest cities in this regard along with Bengaluru and Coimbatore. Next up are Kolkata and Mumbai followed by Delhi and Ahmedabad.
The truth about women in cities
All in all, these portrayals provide a rather positive picture of the condition of women in the cities and, by extension, the country. However, a few things need to be asked in this context before one can believe that women in urban India are truly liberated.
The first aspect that one needs to look at is how long are women allowed to stay outside their homes – be it for job or for fun. It is common knowledge that perhaps most married women are discouraged from working in night shifts and even ones who do are mostly nurses by profession. The situation is comparatively better for single working women, who stay alone by themselves, and thus enjoy more independence in this regard. They do not need to answer to anyone since they are fending for themselves.
In case of unmarried young girls, if they are staying with their parents or relatives – someone they are answerable to – they need to follow certain rules and regulations. Once again young girls, who are staying away from parents or guardians in another city, can have a lot more time outside their homes as per their wishes.
Relationship with partner
When we move on to interpersonal relationships between men and women in the urban space – whether it be marriage or premarital love relationships – there is always an equation of inequity – either one of the partners is in a more supreme position. There is a question of servitude, of being indebted to the other partner for some reason or the other. In certain relationships, which apparently depict some sort of compatibility, there is some sort of agreement of mutual exchange of qualities that the other person is looking for.
Women are either busy asserting their dominance over their meek, submissive partners, or seeking a way out of the yoke of relationship that they are in. It could be done through work, hobbies, cultural pursuits and even extramarital dalliances. In certain situations it has also been seen that these things spell the end for the married life or premarital relationship.
In professional spaces, most of the times the quick progress of a woman in her respective industry – be it male-dominated or not – is always seen with suspicion and especially so if the person in question happens to be physically attractive. Then only her physical attributes become the sole reason for her rise with the common repartee being that she has slept her way to the top. Unfortunately, contrary to popular belief, men are not the only ones to think like this.
Rise in crime against women
India, in spite of being a country which has plenty of goddesses and also a number of dignified ladies who have left their indelible mark in the country’s history, has seen the rate of crime against women rise in the recent years. The worst part of this is that this cannot be regarded at any rate as a negation of history. Apart from the plentiful incidents of rape, which keep happening in areas such as Delhi with an alarming frequency, there are incidents of girls younger than 10 years being molested around schools by the very people who are supposed to protect them.
In 2013 there were 33,707 incidents of rape against women across India compared to 24,923 such cases in 2012. In 2013, 51,881 women were abducted – in 2012 there were 38,262 such instances. The number of dowry deaths came down to 8,083 compared to 8,233. In 2013 the number of women suffering acts of cruelty by their husbands or relatives was 1,18,866 while in 2012 it was 1,06,527. In 2013 70,739 women were assaulted as opposed to 45,351 women in 2012. In 2013 12,589 women were insulted in some way or the other and in 2012 this number was estimated at 9,173. This gradually increasing crime rate against women in India is representative of the overall woeful condition of women in the country, thus including the cities as well.
Women need to stand up against injustice
If one includes all the lewd comments and lecherous activities that are perpetrated against women in various walks of life then one would be able to understand – to a certain extent – the true condition of women in cities.
However, these are only external sources. The question that needs to be asked is do the women really believe in themselves to stand up against injustice being perpetrated against them, can they say they are capable of standing up and taking control of their own lives. Can every urban woman in India claim that she is more than a wallflower, a trophy for the people related to her? It is said that charity starts at home and only they can empower and liberate themselves. Let that journey begin!