The Eighth: On Women and Oppression

I finally got around to reading Khaled Hosseni’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. And, it is safe to say I was blown away, and that’s putting it mildly. There were so many emotions I kept feeling as I read the book: anger, hatred, sorrow, understanding, disappointment.

The book had a profound impact on me. There were many quotes that forced me to think, to understand. But, the two quotes that had the most impact on me were:

“Marriage can wait, education cannot.”
― Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns

“Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”
― Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns

The first quote is the one that I relate to the most.  I have always held education in high regard. The social institution of marriage is probably the first thing born out of group living in the primitive times. I firmly believe that everyone needs to be educated for a country to progress, or there will always be an illiterate old fool dragging it down.

The second quote was the one that touched me the most. I first realized the truth behind such a line when Adam blamed Eve. He ate the apple of his own free will, Eve didn’t force feed him. Yet, there is absolutely no one to see that. People say Eve committed the first sin, and that’s true. But, why doesn’t anyone blame Adam as well. He ate the stupid apple too!

But I digress. Apart from the quotes, the book was something I will cherish forever. It opened my eyes. I first learned about the plight of Afghanistan when I did a group presentation on terrorism and a group mate brought a video that showed how the US bombed innocent people in the country to get to the Taliban.

The book deals with female illiteracy, oppression of females and describes the inhumane and cruel way that they’re treated in.  The society is majorly a patriarchal one, with girls as young as fifteen being married off. That doesn’t really shock me. I live in India; here every second bride is a child bride. But, at least today there is a bit of awareness in my country. It’s changing, albeit slowly, but it is changing.

I was horrified to think that I may have been one of the innumerable child brides if I had just been born in a different locality or country. Or if I’d had parents who believed that boys were better and married me off last year (I turned sixteen this year).

The book reminded me of something that had been read out to us at school, a speech made at a United Nations meeting by two teenagers. They’d said, their wish list included cycles, watches and the likes. But, had they been born in Somalia, they might have been starving, might’ve had AIDS if they were born in Africa or they’d be beggars and child brides in India.  I’d been pretty shocked when India was mentioned. I hadn’t been introduced to the harsh realities of life back then.

Today, as I sit typing this ,some girl was probably married off to a man thirty years older than her. She might be forced into sex, what is legally called marital rape, she might be beaten up daily, starved, forced to bear kids and deprived of education. What we need are stricter laws. And, fair laws. We’re all equal.

Why should women bear with everything that’s done to them silently? That’s the bloody problem with this patriarchal society we live in. It shows its domination over women in cities too. Women take their husbands name, move into houses which are in their husband’s names, don’t say a word if they’re beaten up, give up their careers and their life to take care of their children and bear the taunts of in-laws if they’ve  given birth to a girl child.

In corporate companies, men are preferred over women, and if women are given jobs, it’s always at lesser pay that the males. A report says that the higher a woman is qualified, the more the difference in the pay between her and an equally qualified man. Women are eve-teased, molested, raped and all that people can say is that you should’ve called him brother. Or you shouldn’t have dressed like that or been out at that time. Don’t use cellphones. Wear nine yards of cloth in the blistering heat.

I doubt this is the first book about women being dominated over, and I’m positive this won’t be the last. Until and unless we learn that the goddess we worship is at home in the form of a wife, mother, sister or friend and even girlfriend, we’re never going to progress.

I remember reading this somewhere, it’s not the exact quote, but it’s the best my mind can reproduce:

Future generations are going to laugh at our backwardness and criticize our way of living after they learn of the way we treated women, just like the way we laugh at the racist people and criticize what they did.

Until next time,

Nia.

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Please excuse the language if you can’t stand cuss words.

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