The Conflict of Women in 20th Century INdia

The Conflict of Women in 20th Century India Throughout recorded history, women all over the world have been held to a different standard than men. They have consistently been oppressed in nearly all aspects of life, from political to personal. In the 20th century though, great strides have been taken to end this oppression and level the playing field. However, in India, a number of deeply rooted traditions have made this effort all the more difficult, and as a result, women’s triumphs over oppression in India are all the more intriguing. To understand the position Women found themselves in at the dawn of the 20th century, one must have a general understanding of their numerous historical conflicts unique to the Subcontinent. It took the overwhelming success of Gandhi’s nonviolent revolution to create the an atmosphere whereby women, empowered by the times, could take a stand for their equality. The 1970’s saw the beginning of a highly organized modern women’s movement in India. One of the main focuses of the movement was violence. Harassment, wife-beating, rape, and “dowry deaths” were all too common, and police enforcement was ineffective as were most attempts at prosecution. Commonly called “atrocities against women”, these acts were very common. Why then, if these events were so common, was there so much apathy towards them on the part of the courts and the police? To understand this one must look back upon a history marked by religiously and culturally accepted forms of oppression such as female infanticide, polygamy, purdah and sati. Purdah, still practiced today in many Moslem societies, is the act of covering a women in cloth to protect them from the gaze of non-family males, in order to maintain their purity. This practice became common in India in the days of the sultanate. From a traditional western perspective this is a very repressive requirement. Gandhi took a particular pleasure in bringing women…

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