Image by Anja from Pixabay 

Death is predestined, needless to fear. What one should fear is being reduced to a living dead. You’re alive biologically but dead psychologically.

We have come across a long way talking about women, gender, and feminism. We live in a gilded age of graded inequality. It’s shameful that we are still facing various tabooed realities. Patriarchy provides a pompously inducive space for various prohibitions. Commodification and confinement of women besides day and night curfew is so prominent. Mobility and vocality become a social anathema. To rigidly control gender of a woman, various protectionist attitude is adopted wherein she’s bereft of all autonomy.

Wearing certain dresses, talking in a bolder, expressive way is restricted. More than anything questioning has been a taboo generationally. These days women who counter-question are slut-shamed, made to realize that educating them was a wrong choice, that they by nature should be docile (emotional conditioning). By nature, the very quality of education i.e liberation is snatched from them. They get divided freedom. Is this the notion Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao fosters?

‘Sex’ is yet another tabooed notion, not to be spoken out loudly, has been used historically as a tool to conquer over the other gender, making her an inferior sex by controlling the sexual choices.

Since childhood days the invisible surveillance cameras used by brothers, relatives, aunties to spy on. It’s a struggle to even walk or talk with your male friend, the argent life staking risks if you’re an inter-caste or inter-religion couple. ‘You’re too smart ‘and other jibes around never-married women are traumatising to next level. They face pressure to conform to the conventional pathway. Often having to justify their singlehood. Marriage in lieu of a social choice is a compulsion just because of the fear of overt–sexual autonomy that challenges the sex- taboo set by society around women.

‘Ma’am I was absent because I had period cramps ‘. Takes a hardcore courage to spell this forbidden subject among 60 students in a class, isn’t it? Starting of periods is not just a pointer of healthy reproductive system but it hoards various cultural and religious taboos around it. It feels so indomitable to break this period poverty. Its stigmatising how a single red spot makes us parade to the washroom to wash off before any boy casts a disgustful and mocking glance.

Purity has been a central notion to Hinduism. Its prominent in the notion of caste system, manusmriti never treated women any better than a shudra thus bringing in the notion of pollution in periods to subdue, subordinate and assert power over them.

Women today as the other inferior category aren’t allowed to go to temple, enter kitchen or touch pickles, sleep on bed, eat spicy food during periods. This discrimination slacks the confidence, kills mental peace, increase vulnerability and secludes socially. why can’t we recreate a positive euphemism to make her feel having periods is just a normal body functioning which would foster period friendly society and menstrual awareness.

Sometimes it’s just so easy to do away with a problem by not discussing about it, i.e by tabooing it. Caste forms the bedrock for the act of prostitution in India. Not all things that are legal are right. A line etched with pain and fierce in Mahasweta Devi’s “Draupadi” – ‘ what’s the use of cloth ? you can strip me, but how can you clothe me again? Are you a man? Hundreds of writings by savarna scholars indirectly try to prove how Britishers made prostitution an activity of shame in India and thereof, gave a prop to the caste system in India. In lieu of highting the ritualistic practices and scriptures of caste Hindu, that appropriated and supported sex labour by lower caste. Prostitution in simple terms means ‘selling sexual services for material/commercial/economic gains ‘.

Devadasi, a ritualized prostitution, known as handmaiden of god or ‘female slaves of gods ‘. Maharis in Kerala state, Natis in assam. Lower caste women were made the objects of sexual pleasure by priests especially children even before reaching puberty were singled out. A customary practice in and around 300 AD. Bedi tribes, who live in abject poverty and were generationally marginalised had a hereditary occupation of prostitution. They too like nat community were nomadic dancers and entertainers with the advent of the Criminal Tribes Act they sought to prostitution, were stigmatized and marginalized.

Jogini tradition of Andhra, a contemporary form of devadasi, a religiously sanctioned sexual abuse which forced lower caste women in the name of purity to become the part of of it. Forcing her to do sexual intercourse with every upper caste man, losing belongingness even in their own community, being exploited sexually. Intertwined caste hierarchies and gendered discrimination. Multifold marginalization is etched to it with social marginalization and victimization also reinforces political marginalisation. Such practices conveniently being played off as culture to exploit shamelessly one section of a community generationally. The chukri system or the debt bondage found in kidderpore or other parts of West Bengal. Women were coerced into prostitution to pay off debt.

There are deaths, suicides, violence among many other sufferings. And it's all unnoticed, untold. Statutory rape of a minor, delinquency of a minor, sexual servitude of a child. Majority of the prostitution in India is a forced prostitution i.e sex slavery. They experience post-traumatic stress, anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, emotional numbing and emotional/physiologic hyperarousal. Regardless of prostitution's status (legal, illegal or decriminalized) or its physical location (strip club, massage parlour, street, escort/home/hotel), prostitution is extremely dangerous for women.

Prostitute women are unrecognised victims and that the criminals (paid customers) are socially invisible. Incest, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, stalking, rape, battering and torture are points on a continuum of violence, all of which occur regularly in prostitution. Just payment of money doesn’t erase all of them.

Along the line of paralinguistics and cross-culture, there is various other undocumented everyday taboos a woman suffers. Unless we unlearn and educate ourself to voice against such discrimination there will never be substantially sustainable changes visible. Agency, Space and rights are never rendered but returned back. There goes a saying feminine urge to be masculine should be adopted by men. A single person can herald small changes for learning is a social and continuous process. 

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