Frequently Asked Questions
First Online: January 14, 2001
Page Last Updated: January 29, 2014
|What are some of the problems
facing the women in India?
The problems Indian women face are
same as those faced by their counterparts in other nations.
Additionally, there are some unique problems in India for women.
The Dowry system prevalent in India calls for a large
sum of money to be paid to the groom at the time of marriage.
Brides that cannot meet the husband's expectations are
sometimes harassed after the wedding. (see: Dowry System)
Desire for male progeny has caused natural imbalance
and numerous problems for women.
Unwanted touching of women in public places -- this problem is
known as Eve teasing in India.
Unequal share of inheritance -- in most Hindu families,
only the sons inherit the wealth of the parents as married girls
are considered no longer part of the family.
Lack of public toilets --this is more of a hygiene
problem of India, but making even more difficult for women to
get out of the house.
Ill treatment of widows -- many families blame the
untimely death of a husband to the misfortune of the woman. In
extreme cases, the widow is made to wear only unattractive
clothing and shave her head, although this practice is on the
|Why do Indian women wear the
dot on the forehead?
Traditionally the dot (known as bindi, kum-kum) was the symbol of an auspicious privilege enjoyed by
married Hindu women in India. The practice has now evolved to cover
young girls and women of other faiths as well and has become part of
See: The Holy Dot
|What is the status of women in
The answer is a complex one -- women
are both abused as well as revered in the Indian society; sometimes
within the same household.
The Hindu religion calls for worship of the womanhood, and
several rituals are conducted in honor of women. At the same time,
it denied such privileges as performing the last rites and equal
share of inheritance.
The conditions of divorced women, widows, and unmarried working
women need substantial improvement.
|What is Burning of
Brides? Does this really happen?
In the 1980s numerous cases of newly
married brides mysteriously dying in kitchen-stove explosions came
to light in India. The deaths were found to be related to the dowry
system when the bride is expected to bring a lot of money to the
husband. The burnings consisted both of suicides and murders.
In ancient and medieval India, there was the tradition of wives
committing suicide upon the death of their husbands, known as the
Sati or the Sahagamana (co-departure). The women decorated
themselves in their bridal attire before immolating themselves.
The dowry system is a deeply rooted problem in India and
sometimes substitutes the inheritance the woman will receive from
her parents. Officially, both the Dowry and Sati systems are banned,
but one hears about the dowry deaths often in Indian
The last known instance of Sati took place in 1987.
|Do Men Cook in India?
Even though traditional household
work is performed by women, interestingly, a large number of men
cook/can cook in India. Men are called upon to prepare festive
meals, especially during religious occasions. The most famous of the
Indian cooks is Nala - a man.
A large number of Indian males grow up away from their mothers
(due to poverty, purposes of education) and have learnt basic
cooking due to necessity. Professional cooks in restaurants and
eateries are invariably men.
|How do the women in India spend their time?
Indian women spend time with the family members -- mostly other female relatives. The educated women have friends they have made in|
school or work. (Contrary to perception, a large percent of women in India work)
Indian women also spend time with chores, raising children, watching movies,
and caring for community.
|Why do Indian Hindu women go in seclusion during their menstrual cycle? Is it still relevant in the modern
Some experts believe that it was the mechanism of relieving the
women of daily chores and physical activities (of duties of
joint-family) and allow for private time during their menstrual
Women during their periods were also considered unhygienic
or dirty and that's probably the reason they were excluded. This is the same
reason many women prefer not to visit sacred places during their cycle.
waning, this custom of "sitting out" is still practiced in some parts
of India among traditional families. However, this practice is not relevant in
the modern era.
|What was the role of women in India's freedom struggle?
The role of women during decades of India's freedom struggle was
very big, thanks to the vision and encouragement of Gandhi. See the
article Gandhi and Women for
examples of how women got included in the India's nationalistic
agenda from the beginning.
Many women leaders emerged, and even many more engaged in social
service, social reform, and improved the life of women in India.
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