#Opinion

On 75th Independence Day, Tracing The 75 Freedoms Women Need

75 Freedoms for women
It has been 75 years now. 75 years of fighting against colonisation, verbally and violently. 75 years of drafting and setting up the government and constitution of India. 75 years of providing every citizen with the freedom to live, earn and retire on their own accord. But why aren’t these 75 years enough to ensure the safety and respect of women? Why couldn’t the 75 years of India’s independence erase the reign of patriarchy on women’s life? Until when will women fight for their freedom and independence? When will the day come when every woman can proudly say “I am free”?

On the completion of 75 years of Independence, every eye will be focused on the hoisting of the flag. Patriotism will be nudged from sleep and run through the body. Sagas of the fight for independence will be told on repeat. But what will still remain the same is policing of women, their sexual harassment, unpaid labour and lack of freedom to stand on their own feet. But we have had it enough.

On 75th Independence day, we women want these 75 freedoms in our lives:

  1. According to United Nations India accounts for 45.8 million of 142.6 females missing in the world over the last 50 years. When will women gain independence from female infanticide and foeticide and have a life?
  2. Even today gendered parenting is a norm in many families. Women are always taught things that are suitable for their gender. When will we be free from gender roles intercepting our rights to follow our passion and interest?
  3. The female literacy rate in India is 60 per cent which is 22 per cent less than the average literacy rate of the world. When will women have the freedom to educate themselves and be empowered?
  4. 96 per cent of girls enrol in government schools but as they reach class 10th, the rate drops to 77 per cent and 50 per cent in 11th. When will women get the right to choose education over housework and marriage?
  5. When a daughter strikes her marriageable age, she is constantly reminded to get married. She is made to believe that marriage is her destiny and biggest achievement. When will we get freedom from the constant pressure of marriage?
  6. Female force participation in India dwindles to 25.1 per cent in India. Working women can contribute a lot to the Indian economy and short up the GDP. Why still women do not have the freedom to earn a job and salary?
  7. 23 million girls drop out of school due to menstruation. The reason behind this is a lack of toilets, lack of menstrual hygiene, period taboos and no knowledge about menstruation. When will menstruating women get freedom from taboos and lack of awareness about period hygiene?
  8. In an Indian household, families choose what career is suitable for women. The choice is made not entirely for the welfare of women but for keeping women safe in the eyes of patriarchy. When will women be free to work in the field of their interest and not patriarchy?
  9. Around 1.5 million girls are getting married in India before they turn 18. When will girls in India have the freedom to do something in life rather than succumbing to the evil practice of child marriage?
  10. According to the data released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of reported cases of crimes against women stood at 3,71,503 in 2020. When will women be free from sexual predators? When will their sexuality be deciding factor of their individuality and safety?
  11. Marriage is seen as a defining factor of the morality of a woman. If she marries, she is sanskari and if not then there is definitely some problem with her upbringing. When will women get the freedom to choose whether they want to marry or not?
  12. Women who do not want kids are shamed for being selfish. When will women have the right to decide whether they want to conceive a child or not?
  13. Women who work are shamed for being greedy and selfish but when she stays at home, she is considered orthodox. When will women have the independence to decide how they want to be in life?
  14. Most of the sexual harassment cases against women happen at home or at the hands of men they know. When will women be safe within their houses?
  15. 42 per cent of girls below 19 years are sexually abused in India. When will a girl child have the freedom to not be scared and subjected to such heinous crimes?
  16. 75 per cent of women face domestic violence on the streets, 19 per cent on bus stops and 25 per cent face sexual harassment daily. When will women be safe on street?
  17. 30 per cent of crime against women happens a the hands of husbands. Domestic violence tops the rate of crime against women in India but it is still not taken seriously. When will women have a marriage in which they are safe and independent?
  18. Intimate partner violence is one of the main reasons why many women die by suicide. According to NFHS-4, women formed the second largest group to die by suicide after suffering from domestic violence. When will women’s life and sanity be valued over the patriarchal conception that women must be submissive in marriage?
  19. The latest National Family Health Survey-5 data revealed that most women justify domestic violence. The survey that was conducted across states asked women and men if it was justified for a man to beat his wife and the answer was not negative. When will Indian women be free from internalisation that domestic violence is normal in marriages?
  20. 53 per cent of women in Bengaluru alone face sexual harassment at the workplace. Do women not even have the freedom to work efficiently?
  21. Around 81 per cent of women perform unpaid domestic work, 27.6 per cent perform unpaid caregiving and 2 per cent are involved as volunteers, trainees or in other unpaid work. When will women get independence from the belief that housework and caregiving are their duty and not paid work?
  22. Only 32 per cent of married women in India are working according to NFHS-5. Why are married women forced to quit their job after marriage? When will women get the independence to work and earn after marriage rather than confining themselves to unpaid domestic duties?
  23. Bahus are always villainsed in houses for being unsanskari. Sometimes they are even blamed for the death of the elder ones in the house. When will women get independent from moral policing after marriage? Why are women alone held responsible for the duties at home?
  24. Many women are slut-shamed for having premarital sex. When will women have sexual agency?
  25. Many women are policed for the clothes they wear and are victim-blamed for provoking men to harass them. Some women are policed for being too traditional in their dress choices. Why should a woman’s clothing determine whether they deserve safety or not? Why should clothes determine how modern a woman is?
  26. Women are often body shamed and expected to look good all the time. When will women have the independence to own their bodies? When will they have bodily autonomy?
  27. Women are shamed for having male friends. When will they be free from the misconception that ladka ladki kabhi dost nhi ho sakte?
  28. Women are labelled characterless for having a boyfriend, especially when the couples’ communities are different. When will women be free from society’s scrutinising eyes over their dating life?
  29. When women become widows, they are outcasted by society and considered a bad omen. Why don’t widows have the freedom to live their life normally?
  30. Women are forced to stay in a bad marriage rather than call for divorce. The divorce rate in India is less than or equal to 1 per cent. When will women have the freedom to seek divorce and walk out of an unhappy marriage?
  31. Sex in a patriarchal society is all about male pleasure. Women neither get orgasms nor men think about female orgasms and pleasure. When will women have the right to orgasm?
  32. Marital rape in our society is not wrong but when women ask for sex she is termed immoral. When will women have the agency to choose how their sex life should be? When will women have the freedom to own their bodies and their needs?
  33. Women are never expected to take care of their health. They are pedestalled for sacrificing their health and doing unpaid work for their family members. When will women have the freedom o take care of their health?
  34. When will housewives get the freedom to take sick leave or leave on Sunday?
  35. When will women be able to go on trips without lying or being tracked by parents?
  36. When will women have the freedom to abort a child during unwanted pregnancy?
  37. When will women be independent enough to take the financial decisions for the family?
  38. When will women be considered as an individual and not sacrificial or rebellious Devi, vote bank or token?
  39. When will women have freedom to join the parliament and lead the laws in the country? Until when will women be a reservation?
  40. No matter whether a woman is earning or is a homemaker, why aren’t women ever made the in-charge of the family or house?
  41. When will women be free from the evils of dowry and dowry harassment?
  42. When will women’s worth be measured in terms of gold and money?
  43. When will society stop calling out women alone for being gold diggers when they marry rich husbands? Why aren’t men called the same when they demand dowry?
  44. When will society stop considering women an object or dhan that is donated in marriage? When will women marry as an individual and not an object?
  45. Until when will women be seen as sexual objects who sleep their way to the top? When will women be valued for their talent and achievements?
  46. When will society stop double discriminating against women from the marginalised community?
  47. When will women have the freedom in real life to inherit the family business equally?
  48. When will women be free of victim-blaming when they are raped? When will they be forced to marry their rapists or keep the child conceived through rape?
  49. Until when will female actors be judged for their looks and clothes and not their talent in acting?
  50. When women will be free enough to pose naked and still not be policed for obscenity?
  51. When will women be free to interpret goddesses and gods and scriptures as per their thought process?
  52. When will women be free from being judged as per scriptures that have been written by patriarchal minds?
  53. When will women be free from sexist comments like beauty with brains and you are different from other girls disguised as compliments?
  54. When will women have the freedom to work till late at night and earn promotions at work?
  55. When will women get equality in the way adultery is treated in our society? Why women are forced to undergo harsher punishments than men?
  56. When will women be allowed to be opinionated and speak their minds without inviting any slut-shaming and misogynist comments?
  57. When will women gain safety from online sexual harassment?
  58. When will women be openly able to post anything on their social media accounts and not be judged by anyone?
  59. When will women be free to have social media accounts without blocking their family members?
  60. When will women entrepreneurs be taken seriously and their pitch be valued?
  61. When will women be free to own their sexuality without fearing moral policing and slut shaming?
  62. When will objectification of women in Bollywood films stop?
  63. Why are women forced to stay in unhappy marriages and try to fix their husbands? Why is the responsibility of sustaining the marriage falls on women alone?
  64. When will women be free to sit whenever, wherever and however they want?
  65. When will women have the freedom to express any emotions they want- be it happiness or anger?
  66. When will society stop determining what is the right way for women to laugh?
  67. When will women be free of the prejudices that women are bad drivers when research shows exactly the opposite?
  68. When will women be free to handle their own finances?
  69. Until when will society bind women with the myth that women cannot climb mountains, ride bikes, lift heavy weights and do everything that a man can do?
  70. When will women be free to consume intoxicants without the fear of being ‘caught’ or shamed or judged?
  71. When will women have the freedom to tell their partners to use condoms? Why still do many men feel that using condoms is not masculine?
  72. When will women be a part of discussions a home and not only a part of the kitchen?
  73. Until when will women be downplayed using double standards?
  74. When will women be free to breastfeed in public?
  75. When will women be considered citizens of the country and not pawns of society?

The views expressed are the author’s own.


Suggested Reading: When Will Parents Stop Treating Their Daughters As Strangers After Marriage?