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Women need to help themselves first and stand up against beliefs that keep them in the second citizen position, only then can they get ahead.
Well, I am an eye doctor and so many of the social issues I encounter are seen through the lens of being just that. This is a very small incident that I grasped from my daily practice which shows how the very small choices that she makes can disempower a woman, and also the women who share life with her.
I had a regular patient, a lady in her late fifties with a cataract. Surgery was advised as it is a most predictable sequel to anybody suffering from cataract.
The lady told me that she was ready to get operated but she would need at least a week before the operation could take place, because she stayed alone, and has a daughter whom she had recently married off. She had to call her to stay with her since I had advised her that she will not be allowed all the cooking, cleaning and other household activities for at least 3 weeks. It is important because she must keep herself away from dust and fumes.
The daughter came on the day of the surgery and was mostly mentally absent from the surgical scene of her mother. She sat absentmindedly looking at the pictures of her and her new husband in the waiting room of my hospital. When I told her that the surgery went well, she did not even smile the way other relatives do for they are relieved that the operation is finally successful.
Later before leaving, the mother of the girl and my patient requested me, ”Doctor, please tell my daughter that she has to arrange help for me for at least 3 weeks. She says that she will leave in a week. She says that her husband and in laws would not like it if she stays away that long. If you tell her, she will at least try and ask their permission.”
The girl said, “My husband would not be able to stay on his own for so long.”
I have wondered since then, why can’t the girl decide to stay and help her mother for medical reasons and firmly tell her in laws and husband that she is here for an important cause and not for fun? Why has she given away all her decision making power into the hands of her in laws and her husband? If she needs them so desperately, don’t they need her too, or she is supposed to be like an owned slave? Has she not disempowered herself and another woman, who happens to be her own mother?
I felt sad because in front of me sat two women who had made themselves helpless… for the choices that they had made.
I meet women daily, who even after years of being married ask for the permission of their husbands and in laws for spending very little amounts of money to doing something. Why do you need these permissions? Just do away with permissions because they are the symbols of your weakness or your lack of confidence in your own decisions.
It’s not only about being a star wife or a star kid but when Akshay Kumar was asked by a journalist, whether Twinkle Khanna asks him about the things she does, he replied without thinking, “She is an adult, she does what she has to, and then tells me.” Actually he meant, grow up women because you really are old enough and you do not need anybody to decide anything for you.
The incident in my practice, other small incidents, and many others make me of the opinion that women often are responsible for their own weakness. Women have to learn to gather strength to break out of the centuries of conditioning of subservience. The message of self reliance and awareness has to percolate deep into the masses too. If women are steadily made aware of the fact that if they can make choices that are out of strength, they will come out strong and if decisions are made out of a weak mindset, it is bound to make them weaker still.
Image source: a still from the movie Dum Laga Ke Haisha
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