" If you educate one girl child, you are educating two families" - I read this somewhere and even believe it to be true to an extent. But looking at life in practice, I have also come to believe that women are the greatest enemies of women. In most of the crimes against women be it dowry, domestic violence, ill treatment of domestic help or teaching the girl child that she is inferior, weak and to be protected by men, it is women (mom, sister, mom-in-law etc) who play a major role. However, what I heard during a train journey, in a conversation between a mother and her daughter, made me realise that it is not just crimes against women that are perpetrated by women, rather in every small way, this inferiority is reaffirmed. The duo's conversation saddened me and made me wonder, are we really educating our girls in the true and right sense?
We were coming back from our vacation. We had a group of five people as our co-passengers, an old lady (mother), her daughter (educated, well spoken) and three grandchildren. The journey started in the afternoon. The children were well mannered and the ladies themselves were very particular about the cleanliness around them (which is very rare in the train). I was quite happy to see that.
After their dinner, the mother put the children to bed and the elder ladies (mother-daughter) sat down to discuss their extended family members. Their conversation goes like this: (I was not eavesdropping, they were oblivious of their surrounding)
D: ma, how old is neha now?
M: she must be 30+, but she is yet to conceive.
D: she has been married for how many years?
M:3 years completed. 4th running.
D: oh.. neha is going face difficulties now. What must her in-laws be feeling. All the relatives must have started talking about it. What is the use of her beauty and education if she does not produce a child soon within a year or so. She is becoming old and I think if she does not have a baby soon, she will be finished. God only can help her.
... and she went on and on about how bad not having a child as soon as anyone gets married is for the girl!
I was shocked to say the least. If the mother had spoken something like this I could have understood because she belongs to a different school of thought. But the daughter, an educated girl, with a girl child of her own talking like women are under some sort of obligation to become a child - producing machine from the minute they are married or God help them - was shocking to say the least. What has "education" meant to this lady when her thinking hasn't changed enough to respect her own gender..