In India as far as access to places of worship is concerned it is only the religion of Islam which has a hitch, otherwise in all other religions the women generally go the places of their worship. But when we go into the fundamentals of Islam, nowhere does it discourage the entrance of women inside the mosques. What it discourages is praying in a mixed group with the men which have its own reasons. It is in India that we find a culture where the muslim women don’t go the mosque in general. Otherwise, if you go the Jama Masjid in Delhi, there is a separate section where women can worship.
If there was to be a code of conduct for the way a man should treat a woman it should exactly be the same for the opposite scenario that is a code of conduct for the way a woman should treat a man. This is so because there is no element of doubt that both men and women have equal rights. Just because physically men have more power does not give them a right to subjugate women.
As such there is nothing which a woman shouldn’t do which a man can. But as far as the Indian culture is concerned, women have a very dignified position in it. Indian mythology associates women to the Goddess of wealth, education, power etc. In such a scenario anything which degrades this dignity should not be done in general. But due to monetary reasons many such activities such as prostitution, dancing in bars, bar tendering etc. becomes unavoidable. One particular thing which comes to my mind which can be avoided by woman is sensual marketing of products through advertisement. This reminds me of one such advertisement of Hawkins pressure cooker by Mahima Chowdhury which is picturized on the song ‘Chandan sa badan’. In such kind of advertisements, nowhere the emphasis is laid on the quality, specifications etc. of the product but on the sensual quotient. This kind of marketing should be avoided and product based marketing should be done either by women or men.
The one woman I admire other than my mother is my late maternal grandmother. In her time, with a society dominated by men she led her life on her own terms. My grandfather passed away when my mother was just in her junior school. My mother, the youngest of all along, with my eight uncles, which makes it to a total of 9 children was raised successfully by my grandmother. She is the most literate woman I know in my life. Even though due to societal pressure she was not allowed to go to school after class tenth, she herself learnt many things and was very fluent in English, Hindi, Urdu and Bengali. Even she sometimes used to teach us junior class mathematics. Successfully raising 9 children single handedly in such a situation where sometimes the condition as told by her was that of hand to mouth makes her my most admirable women.
Faraz Farooqui is an Assistant Manager at The Indian Oil Corporation.