India is a proud country – a pride that is very much rooted in her long-standing spiritual significance and complex cultural heritage. The Constitution of India clearly states that the “People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens: justice, social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation”.
It is clear that the forefathers of India had a strong vision – to create a country where we could all live together with dignity and respect. This leads me to review a longstanding question: “why India has developed into a patriarchal society?” I have tried in the past to make sense of the rampant inequality and injustice through the eyes of other women who have shared their experiences with me and through my own deeply personal experiences.
My questions are still unanswered as to why I was treated as a liability while growing up. I am perplexed, curious and sad for all my sisters back home who continue to experience deep inequalities in the very place they should feel protected and nurtured – their homes and with their families. I want to now set these questions aside and ask not why? but how?; how can we convert this perceived liability into an asset? I myself certainly do not feel less powerful than my male counterparts in my life anymore. I have been fortunate to live independently within the UK for the last 16 years. I have converted what was once considered a liability into an asset.
What exactly does a male child have that a female child struggles to achieve? The only thing I believe he has which exceeds me is his physical power. However, I believe with the right training I could also overcome this difference but for the argument’s sake, we will agree any male body has a more physical capacity than a female. Taking physicality out of the equation, we come to the realisation that, women are not in competition with the male on any feature other than her struggle for power. She has a lack of status and thus consequently less power.
I am really surprised at the dynamics of power within the social system of a country, which is considered to be the spiritual heart of the world. You will find men practising celibacy to attain purity of the mind, body and soul. Female deities are worshipped daily. How then did we arrive at a place where women are portrayed in a vulgar manner, with their sexuality openly being promoted through Bollywood? With poor language being used to address them?
After reviewing various reports, connecting with the Indian culture at a ‘grass-roots’ level, I tried to understand some of the dynamics of India as a gender-neutral nation, and how we got to a point where the girl child is killed before she is even born. According to the last 2011 census report shows that sex ratio of females is 914 against every 1000 males. UNICEF considers India to be the most dangerous country in the world to be born a girl.
Many outsiders would think that it would be rural or uneducated people who participate in this unrighteous practice. I was shocked to my core to learn that doctors, lawyers and many other highly educated people take part in these illegal gender-selective abortions. Certain doctors even offer ‘packages’ for families to undertake an ultrasound and abortion on one. Many times, daughters-in-laws are brought to the hospital without knowing the full family plan and forcefully operated on.
To date, no medical professional has ever been prosecuted in India for this crime.
Indeed, I have personally seen this common practice of mothers being brutally beaten for giving birth to a girl child; I know a mother, who’s husband bit her face (and many other parts of her body) like a vulture. He was not even reported to the police.
Ironically, in a case that did go to court concerning domestic abuse (after the women gave birth to a girl), the judge scolded the police officer who had arrested those involved in the beating. The judge apparently said, “Everyone wants to have a boy, what wrong has this family committed, that you have hastily arrested them?” The family were released from the court leaving the daughter-in-law even more vulnerable.
I thankfully did not experience this kind of brutality for being born a girl. I was however reminded of my liability from time to time. I vividly remember at the age of 14, I was studying in my room (which I shared with my siblings). It was around 11pm and I had borrowed my father’s alarm clock from his room. He came inside the room and slapped me on my face announcing, “you don’t need to read, we will get you married with a dowry.”
I can’t remember how long I cried that night. I had many similar challenges as being a girl. Due to the pigmentation of my skin, boy’s family rejected me for marriage. In fact, I was not even recommended for potential matches. My father and the rest of the family viewed me as ‘the defected one’. My heart was continuously broken in my childhood. With a great difficulty as I was told my family were finally able to marry me, at the age of 21.
The man was born and raised in the UK. When I arrived my new husband informed me that he married me due to family pressures. My heart once again was crushed, but this time it felt like his feet crushed my heart into the dirt. When I left my parent’s house and arrived in the UK I hoped to experience love and respect from my new family. But this was far from the case.
Firstly, my husband gave me a corner in his room near the boiler whereby I slept in a duvet for a year. The only time he ever talked to me was when he wanted his clothes ironed or food prepared. The father-in-law swiftly sent me out to find work, which I did within 2 weeks. I felt such pride, as I struggled to speak English. He gave me his bank account number to transfer all my wages into his account. Little did he know that by forcing me into the big wide world so soon upon arrival that he taught me confidence and independence.
It took me one year to make the decision to escape this anguish. I had to leave even if it cost me my life. I had a deep calling from the inside and I had to take massive action to shake up my in-laws and my cultural roots.
How can we solve these problems? The obvious way is to look outside in remedies such as changing and enforcing the law, improving social systems and cultural attitudes. But I feel that the most powerful solution lies within the woman herself. When we as women present ourselves with dignity and uphold our own self-respect we can influence the world to recognise in us not just our sexuality or our weakness but our infinite power and dignity. Women need to secure a more fulfilled life for themselves and after years of heartbreak from society and family, I have taken the responsibility to hold my life in my own hands.
First and foremost I was able to do this by paying attention to how I feel and think. When I felt certain emotions, I reflected on my thoughts. I meditated and prayed to purify my mind. This consistent practice has helped me to heal my heart to a point, where I first became functional and secondly my heart started to heal from all the traumatic experiences.
Then what I call divine magic commenced. New faculties started to open up in my brain. I started to find skills in which I had no formal training. All of a sudden my thoughts, speech and actions started to align. They all started to come from the heart and I felt that I was aligning with God’s purpose for me. Somehow when I dropped the attitude of being a liability the higher power started to fill my heart bit by bit with his soul-nourishing love. I merely had to think about one thing and somehow whatever I needed to get to my next stage of growth started to manifest.
It is almost like divine was putting every little piece of the jigsaw in the right place for me and I was just flowing with it. The stage I am in right now in my life is a full acceptance of my past adversities and the ability to state freely that I am a kickass adult, who is spiritually awakened and has the capacity to serve the world with her thoughts, words, and actions. I admit, it is hard for me to believe, that women today are more concerned about their entertainment value, then the depth of their connection with a higher power. But I accept this as they too consider themselves to be a liability in some form or another.
India is a proud country – a pride that is very much rooted in her long-standing spiritual significance and complex cultural heritage. It is now time for India to harness that spirituality and heritage and use it to forge forward in the world. It is time for India to treat daughters as goddesses and angels who can nourish the world with divine love and spiritual light. It is now time for India to shift the perspective of daughters from liability to asset.
However, thus far I have spoken of India as if she is entirely to blame. We must accept one thing first and foremost. We are all – regardless of gender, religion or age – responsible for the suppression of daughters that we witness in India today. We can take responsibility and start a journey of self-reflection and self-discovery. By doing so we can build a solid connection with our source energy (higher power) and ourselves.
I want no women to be burnt alive in the name of dowry. I want female foeticide to be a distant memory. I want women will be the foundational power of the world, standing tall with their head held high. This is my vision and after deep reflection last month my personal mission statement transpired. My mission is simply “to nurture and sustain every individual who connects with me by any means”. In doing so I will demonstrate true, unconditional love and integrity and share deep spiritual insights on life derived from my own inner work. I now wish to help other women in finding their mission in life to help them convert their perceived liability into an asset
Preet Dev is a spiritual Mentor and entrepreneur living in London for the last 17 years. Preet is an advocate of clean, stress free, toxin free living. The value Preet brings to her clients is the lifestyle -guidance for all things healthy. Through her coaching, products, and services, by invitation only private Corp memberships, resources she helps other CEOs and entrepreneurs balance their health, wealth, and productivity.@selflovemaster