3:26 PM | 12 July 2020
For the past three months, I have seen patriarchy at its peak. I’ve seen women being exploited in the name of religion. I have seen painful births and tearful miscarriages. I have seen couples struggling to become parents and couples seeking secret abortions. I have seen bruises smelling of domestic violence and I have counselled new mothers for post-partam depression. I have begged women to take their pre-natal supplements on time and I have also eaten the *mithai distributed by proud grandparents. From being unable to name their child to being denied the right to decide how many children they want to bear, I have seen our kinswomen withering away in the stench of stolen rights.
I have seen women requesting BTL (bilateral tubal ligation: a surgical contraceptive procedure) and I’ve seen women on the operating table for the fourth time and, yet, refusing to acknowledge that another C-section could be detrimental for their health. I have seen women unprepared for motherhood conceiving under the pressure of “Shadi ko chheh maheenay ho gaeye, abhi tak koi good news kyun nahin hai?” (“It’s been six months to your marriage, why isn’t there any good news?”) and I have seen women bearing the brunt of male infertility. And I see humanity rusting away.
You know what’s really sad, in fact, disgusting? That it’s women themselves who play a huge role in providing fodder for this life-threatening cycle – by keeping silent in the face of these inhumane injustices, by seeking revenge from the next of their kin and subjecting their daughters-in-law to the same customs, and by teaching their own daughters to accept these injustices as customs that are “zamanay ka dastoor” (norms of the society).
Is there anything at all that we can do? Maybe not much except counsel each and every one of them – the mothers, the fathers, and the mothers of these mothers and fathers. It’s not an easy task, yes. But the thought that being privileged enough to be able to call myself a doctor is more of a responsibility than a badge of honour that I can show-off; that I am here to ‘heal’, not ‘cure’; that my faith and religion tell me that I will be questioned on how I used my skills and education – both His blessings – to help His people; that as a doctor, I can not only change the course of a disease but also the future of many generations to come – this is enough to ease this difficult task. So I continue to do what I can: talk to these women and all the women around me. And I urge you to do the same – with your househelps, your patients, your friends, the women around you. But most importantly, with the woman within you.