From the very beginning of human civilization women have always been underprivileged. They had enjoyed equal freedom with men till the time people lived by ‘chase’ or even in their food gathering stage. At that time they were not settled in any particular place and while chasing the animals for food men and women played equal role in all their activities. Mankind was living in smaller groups and on group consisted of more than five hundred or six hundred people. Another important point at that stage was that people did not know that a child was born out of sexual intercourse between man and woman. That sense came to them only after they learnt to domesticate animals.
A big change came in the tribal thinking when they learnt ‘that union between men and women produced children’. Before that, all the children belonged to the tribe and each child had a mother but no father. But after acquiring this new knowledge they started searching for the father of the new born child and the responsibility of rearing up the child was shared between the father and the mother. Although, it gave some relief to the mother but at the same time it snatched away some of her freedom. She becomes the exclusive property of a man. This way, the family system came into existence and when the tribes took to agriculture and settled-life, it was the women’s fate to become confined to home as they had to attend to the children more than the father. These way women got the protection of men but at the same time they lost their economic freedom as the economic activities become the exclusive preserve of men. After losing the economic freedom they virtually became slaves to men. This was the picture of every society from ancient time up to the recent past. A reflection of this can be seen in Manu’s dictum, “In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to their husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a women must never be independent.” Similar dictums can be traced in most of the other religions also and religion being the source of law in all the countries, people observes these laws as their sacred duty. This idea has been elaborated by Mr Ghatak in his book.
The problem of women’s slavery has attracted the notice of many modern social thinkers and statesmen. Many secular laws have been enacted in most of the countries of the world. But as the implementation of these laws lies in the hands of men, the plight of women has not changed much from its earlier status. Under Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was established to consider periodic reports from state parties (153 States), regarding their compliance with the provisions of the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. This Convention was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 18th, 1979, and came into force on September 2nd, 1981. But not much effect of it has been felt as yet, especially in the developing countries of the world. The reason is very simple. Unless women strongly believe that they are equal to men and in no way inferior to them, their emancipation is not possible.
Shri Ghatak in his book ‘A Macro study of Women in India-over the ages; in and out of scriptures’ has carefully analysed the status of women in ancient and modern society, by referring to different religious scriptures and has found that they have been oppressed through ages by the members of their own societies. His scientific analysis shows that women in no way are inferior to men. The book will provide a great moral boost to those who are fighting for women’s liberation.
In this book he has provided factual citations from different authentic sources. His intention is not to hurt anybody’s sentiments. His main motive is to bring in light the past to improve the future of mankind.
Without granting equal rights to women in all spheres of life irrespective of religious, social and economic conditions, we cannot expect to change their status in the society. Education is a must for all; this was provided by the Constitution of India in 1950. Article 45 says “Provision for free and compulsory education for children-the State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years. “But even after 65 years of Independence we still see the lack of improvement in this sphere. Even the moderately broad-minded and educated people in this country fail to grow out of the bias against the fair sex.
The book contains facts like how an embryo is formed inside the uterus and is the deciding factor of a male or a female child. Who is responsible for a male embryo and a female embryo? Man or Woman? A study has been made on the factors affecting a child’s behavious and the psychological difference between a male and a female child on the basis of the research done by different psychologists and their experimental results.
The so called religious injunctions have played an enormous role in gender discrimination. Proof of this is found in our own religious books.
Till now the efforts made towards women’s emancipation have been limited only to the enlightened sections of the society. The age old stagnant social order must be liquidated. Women, from all sections of society, must fight their own battle with courage and conviction.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees equal rights to all citizens and equality before law and Article 15 says “No discrimination can be made on grounds of sex, religion, race caste, and creed”. In the light of these provisions the Government of India has been trying to help women to find employment and thus, to become economically independent. They are in government service and occupy posts in the judiciary, army, police and other departments. And yet, women are made to feel inferior to men especially at the time of marriage. Demands for dowry and the harassment of women in numerous other ways are not unusual.
Social organizations should involve women at large as active participants in their effort to earn a life of freedom and respect for the fair sex. Nobody can help them until and unless they themselves come forward to modify the social and religious injunctions against them.