Dear Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar, Your Bizarre Remarks On ‘Modern’ Indian Women Are In Bad Taste

Woman are not baby making machines, and they are not just here to be somebody’s wife. They have aspirations and goals. Time this was better understood by all.

Woman are not baby making machines, and they are not just here to be somebody’s wife. They have aspirations and goals. Time this was better understood by all.

Dr. K Sudhakar, the Karnataka Health Minister, sparked outrage on Sunday for his controversial statements. As reported in the Indian Express, he claimed that modern Indian women wanted to remain single and were unwilling to give birth even after marriage. He also claimed that many women wanted to have children through surrogacy. He further went on to add that the mind-set was “not good.”

Those statements were made during a speech he gave at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences on World Mental Health Day (NIMHANS).

“Today, I am sorry to say this, lots of modern women in India want to stay single. Even if they get married, they don’t want to give birth. They want surrogacy. So there is a paradigm shift in our thinking, which is not good,” he said.

The minister’s remarks trended on social media platforms, and several people condemned the minister for making such misogynistic accusations, especially on World Mental Health Day.

What’s wrong with a woman wanting to live her life according to her own preferences?

Such remarks from a ruling party minister are not only strange, but they also reflect a patriarchal mind-set in which a woman’s choices are scrutinised and controlled. And that men are bewildered by and scared that women are taking their lives into their own hands. Something that Sanyukta Dharmadhikari, Associate Editor of The News Minute speaks of in her tweet about this incident – “most men are terrified and upset when women make their choices.”

The most bizarre aspect is that these misogynistic remarks were uttered by a health minister on World Mental Health Day. Instead of addressing the trauma that women experience simply for being women, the minister blames women’s choices? Will men ever stop giving opinions about what women should with their life and bodies?

The minister also made his remarks while blaming it all on the ‘modern Indian women’. How is it that women’s freedom to make their own decisions regarding marriage and childbirth is a source of concern for health minister? Will the minister also address about modern Indian men acting like a man child and depriving women? Such statements are examples of how women’s mental health issues go unaddressed — a privileged man explaining, what’s not good for women on world mental health day isn’t anything new for women.

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My body, my life, my choice

Men have long feared women’s freedom and still continue to dictate women’s lives. It’s absolutely an individual’s choice to marry or to remain single. Not every woman wants to be wife or mother and there is nothing wrong in that, it is her choice. Most men are unaware that pregnancy trauma exists, that experiencing the misery for nine months and dealing with postpartum repercussions are both painful experiences, and that in spite of this, men continue to make misogynistic remarks.

Instead of speaking about gender equality and awareness, such remarks by the minister only reeks of patriarchy. As Faye D Souza a prominent Indian journalist tweeted ironically, “Ah, the modern woman of India. If only women would marry and stay at home we would solve unemployment, poverty, petrol and LPG prices, lack of hospital beds, potholed roads, electricity shortage, crime and hunger.”

Woman are not baby making machines and they are not just here to be somebody’s wife. They have aspirations and goals. Not only modern Indian women, every single woman has the absolute right to choose what they want to do with their life and this is the paradigm shift.

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