Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

A teen girl was admonished because she had worn a tight-fit dress, which was a little above her knees. Embarrassed by the situation, she quickly had to change into a usual, boring pair of loose-fit jeans and a t-shirt.

Later that month, that teen had performed the puja of the diyas on the occasion of Diwali in the absence of her father. On being asked why she couldn’t perform the puja, the father replied furiously, “Girls should not be allowed to perform the main puja of the diyas on Diwalis. The men of the house solely must perform the puja.” Tears gushed out from her eyes as crackers burst and lanterns were released into the air in her neighborhood on this festival of lights.

Earlier that year, the father of that adolescent girl did not want to be involved in the conversation about her daughter not having her periods for six months. He got infuriated and immediately directed her to her mother, saying, “This is not something that I should concern myself with. You must talk about your menstruation problems only with your mother”.

These dilemmas emerged from a family where boys were gifted cars, but on the other hand, girls were ingrained with notions that discriminated them on the basis of their gender right from their birth. Disparaging women became just too normal in her family, that she started thinking that that’s the way how girls are treated. This teen girl had to deal with issues like these on a daily basis, because of her parents’ old-fashioned notions on sexism. As she grew older, she started getting into brawls with her parents more frequently. This started taking a toll on her mental and physical health. She started developing anger and anxiety issues and started losing a lot of weight. This, in turn, affected her studies and grades.

Her mental health had started becoming unstable because of this ceaseless cycle of expectations and traditional customs. The conditions at her home had started worrying her, which made her to feel overburdened. She also started having anxiety attacks recurrently.

One day, during her biology board practical examination she accidentally cut her finger while she was conducting the dissection of flowers in the lab. When the teacher asked if she was fine, she broke down and started sobbing out her troubles to her teacher. She later explained to her teacher that she was preoccupied with the thoughts about the situation at her home and therefore couldn’t concentrate.

She now started to feel anxious even around her own friends, let alone strangers. She barely spoke to anyone now. Stage fright, nervousness, sweating, hyperventilation, and possessing a sense of impending danger now became a part of her life in normal activities too.

One day when she was chatting with her friend in school, her friend showed her a reel on gender inequality on Instagram. She got intrigued and instantly decided to join Instagram. After watching three-four reels, it hit her. In no time she realized that her father shouldn’t have scolded her just because she endeavored the performance of rituals on Diwali, that she can wear whatever she wants to because it's her life therefore her choice, and that it is not taboo to talk about menstruation with your father and that in fact it should be talked about more often so us women can get the sex education that we need.

After exposure to the circumstances of gender discrimination at her home through Instagram, one fine day, she decided to express her wrath to her parents. She expected that they would understand that these scenarios at home were worsening her mental and physical health, but all in vain. In fact, her parents sent her off with the words “You are a girl, so you should know how to compromise in life.”

Upset and distressed, she had now reached her limit of tolerance. She started to feel weak and tired. Though the good news - she was in twelfth grade and next year she would be going to college, far away from a home where now the walls too were made to understand that girls must be disparaged and stigmatized. With the good news, came a bad one. She was apprehensive of going to university that year because her anxiety issues had now paved a way towards unfriendliness and unresponsiveness. She feared that she might not be able to make friends in college at all and wondered if people would make fun of her. Well, we will see what’s in her fate. Surely, she has an unpredictable future.

Thousands of similar stories pertaining to issues like gender inequality can be entailed right here because even in the twenty-first century, girls face discrimination both at home and workplace. Although we do talk about the consequences of gender inequality like loss of productivity, work-related stress, harassment, lack of morale on today’s women, but barely do we talk about the emotional effects it has on the women.

A study suggests that the number of sex-selective abortions is still on the rise in India, indicative of the fact that women suffer discrimination a long time before they are even born. Although today we are well aware that gender inequality exists vividly in workplaces, but the fact that gender inequality takes place at our own homes still needs a voice. Even in the twenty-first century, women are still not allowed to wear skirts above their knee lengths, wear makeup, loosen their hair, receive higher education and drive vehicles, and instead are expected to reach their homes before eight at night, learn household chores, and be solely indulged in academics, let alone envisaging a career in sports.

This isn’t just a made-up story; this is my story. People of this era now ought to change their mentality. They must understand that not only are we being deprived of our basic rights but that these instances can overburden one so much that they can become mentally exhausted. It's high time now that our society understood that girls are no less than boys, women hold the same power as men and women are capable of doing all the things that men are of.

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