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This is an objection to using the word ‘Kanyadan’ in relation to the LIC Kanyadan Policy that has been introduced in October 2018, ostensibly to help “parents of a girl”.
I strongly oppose the name and coverage of LIC Kanyadan Policy. I want to put forth these questions about this:
Till today we have the mindset that we should save money for our daughter’s marriage. Because as a girl child born in India she has a deficiency, and that should be complemented by her parents’ money. And that a male has every right to accept all the monetary benefits that come along with his wife. In her public and private life she cannot enjoy freedom as a human being but she has to live with the grace and kindness of others, with an obligation towards them her entire life.
Isn’t she a human being to be able to live with self respect? Her education, her ‘quality’, her ‘human value’ – everything is assessed according to her gender and parental property – for how many centuries is this going to continue? She still doesn’t have any say in her life – what about her autonomy? What about her marital and parental rights?
‘Kanya’ means daughter. A Sanskrit word. Another word that is also profusely used is ‘kanya ratna’. Maybe some respect and emotions are attached to these words, but what’s the real use? Are they really honoured? Or just deceptive words for dowry?
According to the Manu Smriti, there are 3 important donations or gifts a Hindu should perform in his/her life to get perfect Dharmic emancipation. Supposedly the highest achievements one should attain. In modern times, we see this predominantly as a middle-class mentality.
That a daughter is equal to a cow and land, nothing more than that property to be sold, or can be gifted to another person? She can be ‘handed over’ to another easily with societal permissions and celebrations; there is a grant from community.
The article I referred to says, “After Hinduism evolved from Vedic traditions to accept the treatise of Manu Smriti as the basis of Hindu law, the position of women changed in Hindu society. The status of equality that women enjoyed during Vedic times was vastly curtailed, and they were stripped of any independence. They were placed under lifelong male guardianship – Father when unmarried, Husband when married, and finally Son when old and widowed. From here emerged the concept of ‘Kanyadaan’, which some would just consider transfer of property rights, the property being the girl to be wedded.”
Why is this custom and the word ‘Kanyadan’ used and encouraged by the society till date?
From “the very earliest twilight of human society a patriarchal order was a natural order till the mid nineteenth century,” said JS Mill, but now the scenario is quite changed and women voices are as strong as men. By secular intellectual reasoning, she has proved all her abilities and still we will say that she is a gift, a property, a commodity?
According to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action para 18 the human rights of women and the girl-child are “an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights.”
As a girl she has already established all her abilities hence no need to gather a corpus money for her ‘marriage and maintenance’.
For the protection of human rights I would want to request LIC to change the name and benefits of the policy, and that it should cover each child irrespective of gender. It’s time to respect our daughter as a human being; she shouldn’t be treated as a commodity.
Image source: GMR Akash [CC BY-SA 3.0-igo], via Wikimedia Commons
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Asst professor by profession .I protest against each injustice. Strong supporter of female education and
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