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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? Durable Link to Item
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 decline.

Why do Indian women wear the dot on the forehead? Durable Link to Item
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 the make-up.

See:  The Holy Dot

What is the status of women in Indian society? Durable Link to Item
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.

See Also: 

What is Burning of Brides? Does this really happen? Durable Link to Item
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 newspapers. 

The last known instance of Sati took place in 1987.

See Also: 


Do Men Cook in India? Durable Link to Item
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.

Is it true that men in India do not know the woman till they marry her? Durable Link to Item
Oh dear. That is true in every country

Joke apart, it is true that many men and women go in for arranged marriages in India and have very little knowledge about the person they are about to wed.

I've heard that many women in India are virgins until they are married. Is that true? Durable Link to Item
Indian culture attaches great importance to purity and virtue of men and women. Many people who follow this doctrine typically have not had sexual experience till they are married.

How do the women in India spend their time? Durable Link to Item
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 era? Durable Link to Item
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 cycles.

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.

Although 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? Durable Link to Item
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.

 

How do the women in India shave  (legs, underarms, or genital areas)? Durable Link to Item
Depilation is considered a private matter in India and is not discussed in public.

All common forms of hair removal are practiced, including pastes made with natural herbs.

 

  • Submit new questions here. While we regret that we cannot respond individually, we will update this page with the most frequently asked quetions.

  • Discuss the status of women in India in the Friends of Kamat Forum

 

The Women of India
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Portrait of an Indian WomanLight Heart Cures PovertyA Hindu widow sans vermilionA Woman of Havyaka Brahmin CommunityLost in Deep Thought
Radha Awaiting KrishnaPortrait of Indira GandhiPortrait of a HousewifeBirth of a ChildI hope my husbands longevity is increased by my larger dot!
From One Generation to AnotherWoman in Sari Decorates the Front YardWedding-BoundPortrait of a Muslim WomanIndian Woman Preparing Breakfast on a Wooden Stove
Umabai Kundapur (1892-1992)A Construction Worker Carrying BricksHalf Girl, Half WomanMuslim Woman of KurvaKamaladevi Chattopadhaya
Draupadi - The Queen of Mahabharat EpicLadhaki WomanMuslim Woman of Kurva Island

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