IWD: The gender sensitive Indian

Date: March 7, 2012
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Johannesburg, 7 March: Traditional Indian homes can be breeding grounds for very gender insensitive values. Values such as, the husband is the only one that can make decisions and the wife is meant to be obedient and submissive; where the man goes out and earns the money while the women sits at home and looks after the kids.

I grew up differently. I come from a liberal home, where mummy and daddy take decisions TOGETHER. My sister and I grew up on equal ground neither of us was limited because of our sex.

Growing up in this environment has helped me understand the plight of women in work and the world. My parents always tell my sister that she can do anything that she wants no matter what anyone says. My mother always said, “Do not be dependent on a man or a woman, learn all you can and be completely independent.”

I learnt from a very early age to treat women with respect and dignity. I treat every woman the way I treat my mother and sister because that person is someone’s mother or sister. I would not like anyone to treat my mother and sister badly.

As Indian men, we (I say we because I am an Indian man, but that does not mean I fall into the stereotype) treat, not only the women from our racial and cultural divide, but also women as a whole with disrespect.

When we are in love with a specific woman, we treat her extremely well. If that emotion (LOVE) is not attached to a specific woman, we tend to treat other women as objects. Women exist to fulfil a purpose such as cleaning the house or cleaning in general, they are seen as objects used for sexual pleasure.

If you are turned down by a girl because she has more self-respect than to get involved with the likes of you than she is called a slut or names that are far worse. If she does have sex with you, she will still be called that anyway.

No, you and your boys will celebrate and they will call you a “playa” because you are “getting action” from more girls that you have limbs. In addition, if that is not the cherry on top, Indian men want to marry women that are still virgins. The height of hypocrisy!

When we marry, women must stay at home to look after the kids, cook, clean and make sure that the “man of the house” is always satisfied, while the so called man goes out and does as he pleases when he please with who he pleases.

It is a very difficult thing trying to fit in with a society that exists in a box when you exist outside of it. This is one of the reasons for me not having many Indian friends and not associating with them much.

Family is the foundation of all of ones beliefs. It is what your parents teach you that make you the person you will always be. When I look at my sister I cannot begin to express the pride that I feel, she is one of the most important people in my life. Without her, my mother, father and I would much poorer people today. They have all played an integral part in moulding me into the person I am now. That is why I believe in equality and freedom in all its forms.
Equality is a birth right.

Milan Naran is the Campaign Coordinator at loveLife, a South African HIV, and AIDS non-governmental organisation. This “I” story is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, bringing you fresh views on everyday news.


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