Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How far have we come, really?

I wrote a post a few days back about career choices and your daughters and it got me thinking about other issues that parents of daughters might confront. Now, when I was growing up, marriage was still the destination for all girls growing up and my parents worked very hard to provide for their daughters' wedding in addition to a multitude of education costs. The wedding was still considered to be one of their biggest expenditures and whenever my parents bought jewelry, I could see the wheels turning in their heads, calculating the total gold each time. They strived to be in all respects equal opportunity parents but in some part of them, the old Indian fears gnawed at them and the pressure was definitely on to save for our future. I do know that most boys' parents of the same generation did not feel the same pressure. When it came to paying money to get into an engineering college for me, there were people who cautioned my dad not to overspend as ultimately, I was going to get married anyway and to save for that big event instead of spending on this. One person even told my father that he would not have thrown his money away to send his daughter to an engineering college.
My question is this - do parents of daughters today, Indian parents especially, feel any of the same stresses that my parents and others of their generation felt? Are they compelled to save for a wedding nowadays (in any form, jewelry or otherwise)? I am fairly confident that a vast majority of parents will treat their children the same when it comes to education. When it comes to personal safety, I think it is parents of boys that have to think differently with awareness of abuses and pedophilia growing. So I think it comes down to this then - while demanded dowries are more and more a thing of the past, do parents still feel like they need to give a large trousseau, say 10 years or 20 years down the line? Are they saving especially for that? It is true today too that the cost of a traditional Indian wedding is many lakhs of rupees and the brunt of it is borne by the girl's family - is that going to be an expectation of future generations that the boy's family MUST spend equally? I am curious how this will all unfold in the future...

Monday, November 10, 2008

What of the children?

I came across this horrifying report here - A 13 year old Somali girl was raped, raped by 3 men and then stoned to death for daring to report it - stoned to death on adultery charges. And the 3 men, no the three animals? Err....there is no mention of them in any media report.
I am alternatively aghast and appalled that something like this happened and that there is not more of a hue and cry about it. This incident (the stoning) happened with about a thousand spectators. Not one of them stepped forward to question the verdict or stop the stoning. One is left to imagine that the stones were thrown by these very people, watching and thirsting for the blood of a child.
I cannot get my head around this whole incident - a 13 year old was raped. It happens in the world, yes, I know. Perverts exist, I know. And yes, blaming the victim is the most common form of defense, I know that too. But do these men have to subjugate a small 13 year old and rape her to feel all powerful and invincible? If our society cannot offer it's best protection to shield small children from atrocities like this, what is the point of going to war to defend the country? What, at the end of the day are we protecting? And stoning to death this small child, who has already suffered unimaginable trauma? Shame on you, Somalia! Shame on you, world! Shame on every one of us that has read this and chosen to move on, chosen not to speak up about this. I feel ashamed in the name of all womanhood and motherhood, as every woman and mother should. My heart goes out to her family who not only have to live with her horrific death but also with the shame of the slur on her name. Asking for justice is clearly not an option it looks like, so the best we can do is pray for them.