#Opinion

Why Don’t Women Have Privacy In Their Homes?

married daughter, marry parents disapprove

The one thing I can never do in my house is bolt the door of my room. Anything that happens in my life should not be private. Often it seems like my life is a movie and parents are the audiences. No part of my life is hidden. Even if I do try to hide, I am filled with guilt for doing something wrong. Not me alone, but women, in general, do not have privacy in their homes. Their lives are always “watched over” by their parents or elders. Why don’t women have privacy in their homes? And why do women feel guilty for demanding privacy which is their basic right?

Women more often deprived of their right to privacy than men

Privacy is often seen as a privilege. You need to have a home with enough rooms to get space away from your family. But does that mean people without big houses do not deserve to have privacy? No. Demanding and having privacy is a basic right of every human, irrespective of class, gender or caste. If you don’t have a room, you can venture out into the roads, nearby parks or manage to lock your privacy in the passwords of your mobile. The point is that everyone deserves privacy. But in our society, women are often more deprived of the right to privacy than men. It is very common for Indian parents to check daughters’ phones, inquire about their life with their friends or siblings, read their diaries or barge into their rooms without knocking.

Why don’t women have privacy in their homes?

The lack of privacy in women’s life today is in contradiction to the older times when women used to have harems or palaces just for themselves. Men weren’t allowed inside. But as we have evolved, the idea of privacy in women’s life is on the verge of being extinct. The major reason behind this is the idea that women’s deeds are directly related to a family’s reputation. Whatever they do or think has a direct impact on their and family’s reputation which is as pretentious and fragile as a glass menagerie.

For example, if a woman has a secret boyfriend, she is threatening the family’s reputation in a society that believes in slut-shaming women who have relationships before marriage. So women are never allowed to have a part of life hidden from the family members who “watch over” them and ensure that they don’t “falter”.

What also explains the lack of privacy in women’s life is the idea that women do not have a life of their own. Their worth is defined by their devotion to their duty of taking care of their family members. They have to be always present to serve and cater to the needs of the family. Then how will their absence ever be received positively?

Is it right to control women’s lives?

But is it right for the family members to restrict women within the stereotypes set up by the patriarchy? Is it right to control women’s lives? Are women just puppets of patriarchal ideologies? Do men feel accountable to reveal their secrets to their family members? Does anyone try to question men when they demand privacy? No, because ‘mard raise hi hote hai’. Their lives and deeds are never judged on the scale of morality. They have the freedom to do whatever they want because of their gender. But why does morality become important only when women demand their rights?

Women themselves internalise this restriction

The worst part of this restriction on women is that women themselves internalise the idea that they shouldn’t hide anything from their elders. Considering the restrictions and questions of morality that are invoked each time a woman takes charge of her life, it is common for women in Indian families to have a dual life. One that conforms to the patriarchal ideologies and the other that is defined by their freedom to choose. But then why should women be burdened by guilt and fear for having this secretive life? Don’t women have the right to live a life that is their own and not fabricated by patriarchal ideologies?

It is high time we understand that privacy is the basic right of a human. Be it a man or a woman, no one should be forced to let patriarchal watchdogs infringe on their privacy. With the right to privacy comes the right to make a choice. And every woman deserves to have a life of their own choice.