An interesting article appeared in the Wall Street Journal recently. It is entitled: Why the Vast Majority of Women in India Will Never Own a Smartphone. The emerging new middle class will purchase all sorts of things ranging from washing machines to even air conditioners but would not buy a smart phoneA for their daughters. The fear is a love marriage, something unacceptable to many families. Patriarchy supersedes technology.
Statistics are glaring: 114 million more men own cellphones than women. Once again women are denied the benefit of one of the greatest technological leap of our times. Smartphones are not just love machines; they have become an essential tool in our day and age and more than that are a great social leveller. They can help learn, increase skills, communicate better and above all increase their safety when they are out of the homes. But the fear is so deep seated that in rural areas village councils bar unmarried girls from possessing a cellphone.
The whole matter lies on the skewed view of placing the family’s honour on the tender shoulders of the girl child. An aberration!
Even those meant to protect us are quick to blame the woman for crimes like rape and even the ubiquitous cellphone as was the case a few years ago. when a police officer said: western culture, mobile phones and lack of entertainment as reasons for rape. Still trying to decipher the meaning of these words.
The question that begs to be asked is why is no one willing to address the cause and take measures to eradicate it. The bandaid solutions that are too often proffered are always steeped in gender bias. It takes two to tango, but in these cases only one is reprimanded.
From the day she is born, the girl child is treated differently at every step. She has one reason to celebrate at least she is not one that was killed in the womb as is sometimes the case. From the day she is born her life is decided by the men of the families she will ‘belong’ to: father, brother, husband and in her twilight years son and so are her choices.
Today it is the smartphone. God knows what it will be tomorrow.
In 2005 a letter was written to a girl who died in the in the womb. It ended wit these words:
Who are you: a statistic in the records of the hospital, a pain in the heart of many that will slowly fade away, a regret, a topic of discussions with its share of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’… I do not know..
To me you are the little girl who refused to be born in a world that she felt was not worthy of her… a child who took her one and only independent decision..
And we abide by it…