A rat in the hole is constantly trying to come out but the hole is covered with a thick glass. The rat can only visualize that there is something brighter outside. It will not be able to step out because of the glass barrier.
“Five minutes after your birth, they decide your name, nationality, religion & sect and you spend rest of your life defending something you didn’t choose.”
It’s true in almost everyone’s case. We all are advocates by birth who keep on defending the case which is not even our own. If I talk about the lives of girls where I’m working in a village of Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh; they can’t step out of their homes, don’t have any wishes, desires or aspirations. They can’t even decide her life partner, with whom she is going to spend her whole life. Whereas, a boy has all the rights. He can roam around, go to school, marry on his own terms.
Since the fate of girl is pre-decided by their parents, they often ask me innocently, “Madamji! Agar papa hi sab faisle lete hain to sapne kyun dekhein?”. Anyone may own anything except someone else’s dreams – the best part of one’s life where for once, they are their own angel in a fairyland.
How is it fair that our constitution does not have a fundamental “Right to Dream” or a duty to “Let others dream”. Perhaps, it may turn our to be a successful approach like Right to Free and Compulsory Education which has increased the willingness of parents to send their girls to school without making it a financial burden. Although, after 14 years of age, they have to spend money to let them remain a part of the system. Her aspirations should ideally play a role here but she knows that her parents have already decided something for her. “Why?”, we may think, with a 3D vision and a digital soundtrack running inside our heads. It’s a multi-color movie of gender discrimination, social stereotypes, a girl being imprisoned in her own home, and the scarcity of resources stopping her from getting higher education.
“Beti padh likh gayi to hath se nikal jayegi”, is commonly heard here usually from a teenage girl’s father. “She will not listen to her parents, will do whatever she wants, will have her own choice and freedom; and a woman is not born to be a free bird in the sky, but to remain a rat in the hole. If a girl has to do whatever she wants, then what is the need for men. What will they do, if not control her.” These words are those of any other man here. It slows me down for a while – the patriarchy or the male ego of an agitator who is trying to prove his existence by pulling women back. Here, I am not talking about Sigmund Freud’s concept of Ego, but a layer formed around the attitude of men that doesn’t let women grow.
It’s easy to say that this layer is created by the society, but individuals form the society, right? It’s different for each girl and comes in several forms such as financial dependency, guidelines on behavior or their perceived safety. All parents have different causes to restrict their daughters. Sometimes, I wonder whether they are actual causes or excuses. Girls are shown an invisible mirror that doesn’t exist in reality. She isn’t even aware that it is not the financial constraint that becomes a hindrance to her education, but her father’s mentality. The compromises she does for her brother’s education are a step towards promoting his male ego.
When a woman is repeatedly told that she is frail or weak or silent, it becomes a norm for them which gets followed in the name of female incapability; like a minority community struggling for their existence.
Am I really empowered, or independent?
Does anybody care about what I want to do?
Such questions often come up in their heads screaming inside, “What I will do with my education and exposure will be so small as compared to what my brother will be able to do with his. What can I possibly do to make my dream come true?”
Will the rat be able to fight back when it comes to know that the owner of that thick glass is someone from the hole?