Position of an Ancient Indian Women, Has It Changed Today?

December 9, 2012 by Lutheneior  
Published in Women

Is the position of women in contemporary India substantially different from their position in ancient India?

From ancient India to contemporary India we see many changes taking place, with the position of women in society not being the exception. Gender equality has been given a lot of focus since the independence of India. With India emerging into the modern world there have been many internal and external pressures for the government to protect women from abuse and provide equal opportunities as men. The number of opportunities that women now have has greatly increased, though the view that society has on them has had less radical changes.

Two ancient texts, Laws of Manu and Kama Sutra, give many teachings on how men are to treat women. In the sections regarding choosing a girl to marry, it draws a picture of the type of person you should choose to marry. A girl that is beautiful, intelligent, from a good family, and in the same caste. The boys are a taught to avoid girls that have a lot of sisters, as having a daughter is thought to be from having bad karma and in Kama Sutra, it teaches about when the girl is being prepared to be married, she is to be dressed up by her parents and put on display “because she is a kind of merchandise.” (Kama Sutra, Chapter 1). It is believed by historians that these texts were the start of very strong inequality in India’s past. When in marriage the girls are to subject themselves to their husbands in everything they do. With the permission of the husband, they are to run the house, handle with the finances, prepare his daily sacrifices, etc. This would be fine, but the wives should not have a life outside of her husbands, meaning she must ask permission to talk with her friends or visit her family. The position of women is brought down to the point of the women is like a pretty doll, dressed in many ornaments out for show but not able to go anywhere without be carried around. In Modern India, there is still a lot of pressure to follow these ancient text’s teachings when regarding marriage. The wives are still expected to serve their husbands until the day they die, otherwise they are thought as a burden on the family. The teaching have made them vulnerable to abuse, an article on dowry death says this,

“In India about 20 000 murders are committed every year, of which women constitute about 10%-15% of the total, i.e., about 2000 to 2500 per year.” (Kumar, Kanth, pp. 18).

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