Women have been in society since the entire society was formed. They have built the society, have been a part of it, and have also participated when required. But when the time for compliance, society came never came up with the true acknowledgement of women. The steps were put down. As a result, women suffered immensely in historical times and are also suffering now. Women were never treated as equally as men and were never given the recognition that they deserved.
The main reason behind this suffering is that women were considered delicate and were assigned to maintain the house, children, and do the household chores, which were actually considered work, and men were assigned to work such as bread-winning, and it was said that, “they are the heads of house”. So, we will be looking at how patriarchal ideologies have ruled before, and are still quite successful in invading the consciences of people currently. The sufferings of women are as old as the entire human race is.
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We will be discussing some of the hardships that women had to face and the main strugglers who, out of the box, came out and made the first move in order to make changes.
- In 400BC, Agnodice was recognised as the first woman to practise gynaecology. She practised it in Greece. When her patients testified in her defence, she was acquitted and allowed to continue practicing. She is not considered a historical figure, but her stories live on among the women who practise midwifery.
- Islam originated in the 7th century or 610 AD. Before that, the community was divided into various tribes and they did not have any uniform law or custom. It is believed that women’s conditions were very ugly at that time. Men were engaged in polygamy, and women had no rights. Women were priced. During that time, the term “Meher” was meant to mean “cost of women” that a man had to pay to the father of his daughter if they were marrying his daughter. Muta marriage means “pleasure marriage” and was used to end if a woman’s husband gifted her hiba-i-muddat without her permission. Hiba-i-muddat means that a man gives a woman the remaining time of marriage, eventually ending the relationship. From this, we can say that women did not have any right to end relationships even though they were meant for pleasure only. Talking about consent, on either of the ends, consent was never mentioned as a cause.
- In 1691, a nun named Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz  became a nun only because she wanted to continue her hobby of reading books and she wanted to study.
At that time in Mexico, nuns had free access to the library, which she
She chooses to become a nun. She started writing various poems and poems, and soon she wrote articles regarding harsh and patriarchal society, which were quite bold and were unacceptable, and she was marked by the powerful community members.
In a pen battle with the bishop, she replied to the bishop, saying, “God has given intellect to women, so that they can use it.” When the pen battle came to the knowledge of the Arch Bishop of Mexico, he too tried to suppress her and people later on expected her to apologise in writing as a result of which she wrote a written apology and signed as “the worst woman”. From this, we can say that the struggle of women has even led her to call herself the worst person too.
- In 1893, a woman named Kate Sheppard, who migrated from Liverpool, presented a petition in Christchurch, New Zealand which advocated for the right to vote for women. She was one of the most prominent members of the women’s suffrage movement.
Her pamphlets, Ten Reasons Why Women Should Vote and Should Women Vote, contributed to the cause. Finally, on September 19, 1893, women were given the right to vote.
- The Feminism Movement started in the year 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention.
Later on, covering the entire world, the main thought behind the entire movement was to initiate and ask society to give the identical rights that man possessed. The main motive behind the movement was to bring balance to society. After the spread of education and awareness, the conditions have improved on a national level. There have also been an infinite number of initiations that have been taken by the government to uplift the condition of women in society, but still there are certain communities and traditional customs that believe in such old school thoughts. The traditions such as Sati and child marriage have been stopped due to social and political pressure, but there are still some areas that make women’s lives difficult.
- The Dowery Prohibition Act, 1961.
- The Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986
- The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013
- Marital rape is a ground for divorce.
- Rights for women on the will of guardians.
Some of the initiations have been taken, but still there are certain people and communities who see women as an obligation. People manipulate women for certain things as a result of which they divert themselves from being empowered to being dependent.
Women were believed and coerced into being pleasing objects to men. Which supported traditions like Sati, foot-binding, and child marriage were patriarchal. Even after so many years, if we look at crimes against women, we may find an infinite number of cases. In a report published by the Public Health Foundation of India, crime related to women rose 70.7% over the last two decades, from 11.6 per 100,000 women and girls in 2001 to 19.8 in 2018.
Rape related crimes in Delhi almost doubled compared to other states since 2012 before stabilising at 49.3 per 100,000, the report added. In current times also, we can witness heinous crimes against women. But after so many years of evolution, women in communities like Muslims are still treated in-equivalent to one man. Still, we can hope for change in the foreseeable future.
Author’s Name: Shivani Sharma (NRI Vidyadaini Institute of Sci. Mgt. and Technology, Bhopal)