How Can We Raise Strong Daughters? 10 Suggestions….

 

As a feminist activist and director of The 50 Million Missing Campaign to end female genocide in India, one of the questions I’m often asked in interviews is “How do we raise strong daughters?”

I have to admit, that there’s a part of me that is always uncomfortable with this question being asked in context of violence on girls and women.  Because what I feel it does, is that in a round-about-way it puts the onus or blame of gender-based violence on the victim.  It’s almost like saying, the reason girls and women get battered and/or killed is because they are weak.  And if they weren’t they wouldn’t.  Sexist and misogynist violence effects even the strongest of women, simply because the system (social, religious, legal etc.) permits it. In fact determinedly perpetuates it.  Victims of violence, be it race, religion or gender based violence, are NOT inherently weak, but are weakened by constant social battering.

So I believe the process of raising strong daughters is to off-set the very social and cultural conditioning and values that are meant to rob us of our strengths and potentials as individuals.  These are ideas and values that many of us, even those opposed to sexist societies, imbibe and perpetuate unconsciously.  Below I talk about 10 such things that we, as mothers, fathers, teachers, and guardians need to be mindful of, in how girls are raised in society, so we don’t rob them of their inherent strengths and potentials.  So that we consciously provide our daughters with an environment where they can realize and proudly assume their powers in full.  And are able to let “their strong woman within” shine through.

1.Teach her to know her Self by listening to her inner voice, instincts, thoughts and inclinations.

2. Teach her to be comfortable with what’s different in her even when it is at odds with what society says she should be.

3. Teach her that she is exceptional in her own way, and that you are going to be by her side as she discovers, explores and expresses her individual identity.

4. Teach her that choices she makes come with responsibilities that she must also assume. But that they also come with the freedom to make a new choice if she finds her first choice to be wrong.

5. Teach her that she has the right to be wrong, and that’s the path of discovery and growth.

6. Teach her that if she believes in herself, and her dreams and goals, she does not need the approval of the whole world.

7. Teach her that she will face harshness in this society, and she will face rejection, and that it does not matter as long as she believes in who she is and what she is doing.

8. Teach her to value experiences and work that allow her to be herself.

9. Teach her to value people who love her for who she is not what she does or has.

10. Teach her to celebrate each time she takes a stand against social or cultural pressure to conform and stands true to what she knows and believes in, even if at the end of the day, she won’t get a public award or standing ovation for it.

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The Psychology Behind #Rape, #SexTrafficking, and Women’s #Virginity

virgins wanted A 2013 survey by the India Today group and MDRA on the sexual habits and attitudes of men and women in India makes a surprising revelation.  It shows that despite the appearance of a certain sexual liberalism in Indian society, and increasing prevalence of premarital sex, 77% of men say that they will not marry a woman who is not a virgin!

In an article titled “Bride and Prejudice” [Title given by the magazine, not me!] in the India Today magazine, I explore the reasons why Indian men remain so fundamentally conservative, even in the educated, middle and upper class sections. I also explain why this fixation on women’s “virginities”  in its basic perception of women’s sexuality also feeds other forms of sexual constrictions and violence inflicted on women in India.

Hrithik, Don’t Fret, Your Divorce Won’t Destroy India’s Marriage Institution

Hrithik Roshan & Suzanne wedding Pictures 2Dear Hrithik Roshan,

I have received your tear-soaked letter about your impending divorce. It was duly delivered at 6 a.m. on December 14, at my doorstep in both my weekend newspapers.  In fact it was in the headlines, on the front page of both newspapers! At first I was irritated. I thought these idiots are copying off each other and just fooling me into paying for two different subscriptions.  But then I thought — what if this is a matter of utmost national importance? And so I read your letter slowly and carefully, registering all the critical information it gave, in both newspapers. 

I am proud to say that I’m now enlightened. You say (more…)

Women as Domestic Appliances and Internalized #Misogyny

THE 50 MILLION MISSING CAMPAIGN BLOG ON INDIA'S FEMALE GENDERCIDE

by Rita Banerji

When I bring up the issue of internalized misogyny in Indian women, I’m not necessarily talking about the mothers-in-law who abuse and kill their daughters-in-law for dowry.  What I’m talking about is how women view themselves.  It is the subtle misogyny, a form self-loathing, which often passes over women, even urban, educated, working women, without their even noticing it.  

Take for instance a conversation I was having with my mother one time about one of her male relatives.  She told me, with this look of complete disgust, “He’s like a woman.”  She was referring to how he never takes a stand on nor assumes responsibility for any family project, and lets her do it all.  Does she really think that that is what characterizes a woman:  weakness, laziness, and incompetence?  I’m a woman, she’s a woman – so does that mean she sees us…

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Indo-Canadian Artist Soraya Nulliah Talks About Female Gendercide in Western Countries

As I run a campaign, The 50 Million Missing, to raise global awareness about India’s female gendercide, one of the things I find I need to do, is highlight that this gendercide is not limited to IndiaIt is happening in Indian communities in the West too.  In countries like the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Norway.  See this article I wrote on Pickled Politics.

Recently, I interviewed Indo-Canadian, feminist artist Soraya Nulliah, for The 50 Million Missing’s blog, Gender BytesSoraya has been using her art to raise awareness about the hidden gendercide in Indo-Canadian communities and the violence it entails.  In 2006 she held a solo exhibition titled ‘SHAKTI’ on this theme, at the  Nina Haggerty Centre in Edmonton, Canada.    As one review of her exhibition pointed out: “Under the rich textures and colour, there is a sad theme: the reality of violence against women…”

Below is my extremely inspiring interview with Soraya.  All the paintings in the post are by Soraya Nulliah.

Rita: Your family is of Indian origin, but you grew up in South Africa and Canada and now live in the United States.  So why did you choose the subject of violence against Indian women as the theme for your paintings and your exhibition?  (more…)

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