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Discriminated since childhood

- By: Karuna Choudhary -

Growing up in an urban village in Delhi, I was the youngest daughter in the family and the only girl child who went to a private school which made me feel that I’m the most beloved in the family. But lately, everything seems different.

I have slowly come to realize how my family discriminated between me and my brothers. I grew up in a rigid patrilineal joint family. My family believed that girl children shouldn’t be sent to private schools because that way, they could save money for the girls marriages, however, I’m the only girl child in the family who went to a private school, all thanks to my mother.

Moreover, women were never allowed to eat healthy and choicest food. I can still remember how my grandmother was biased towards my brothers. She would always serve them nutritious food, for example, my brothers would be given milk, on the other hand, we would have to drink tea.

In our family, women do not have the freedom to work outside. My mother had to struggle and fight so that she could support me with my tuition fees since my father and other family members refused to pay. She used to work as a teacher in a kindergarten school. Due to this family tradition of not letting women work, my mother had to eventually quit her job. We, girls have to compromise our needs and wants for marriage and dowry. We are not even given financial independence, education rights or power to make decisions.

My village had a panchayat which decides property rights. My family belongs to the Numberdar (sarpanch) who are involved in decision making. One day, I went to the local assembly and wanted to be a part of the meeting. But, I was asked to leave and stay out of it. I was told that women have no rights to the property and decision making since they will become an outsider after they get married. I had been verbally abused and called bigdail by people because I wanted to be part of the decision making process.

I gradually see the changes in the lifestyle and socioeconomic development of my family, but their mentality continues to stay rigid. Living in a patriarchal society and family, I have learnt how to deal with this cruel world and bring changes in every possible way. My education made me stronger and fiercer. I have a better perspective, ideology. I believe that I will be able stand firm in my decision because of my mother who supported me for my education.

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