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Gender discrimination is very common in south Asian countries. Girls are being discriminated with boys from their childhood till adulthood. This is the story of a girl who faces the same problem in her life due to which her life becomes miserable from birth till death .I heard this story from my grandmother. A lady, name Gopi who lived with her family in India who told her true story to my grandmother. She verbalized that when I was born, I was the only female child in my family after three generation but my family members have strong belief that if a female child is born, so its unlucky for us and all blessing are gone away from us. If something wrong happen with family they started blaming me that it's all because of me. My own house is just like a jail for me and I felt myself as a prisoner. From dusk to dawn I have to do all house hold chores as a maid and on other hand my brother goes to school and was getting education.
Several years passed with all the physical and mental torture. By the age of fifteen my father decided about my marriage without asking me. I had never seen my husband who was double of my age moreover he was indulged in lots of bad habits like smoking and substance abuse which they never disclosed with my father before my marriage. From the initial day of my marriage, the attitude of my in laws and my husband was very rude towards me. Unfortunately, my father in law had died because of heart attack but they all blamed me as curse and called me 'munhoos'. However I accepted this situation and tried to be good wife. There was no purpose of my marriage except giving pleasure to him and bearing violence. Further, I had never received a respectable position in the family and always over burden with all house hold work. I hardly got time to maintain my health during pregnancy due to which in the fifth month of my pregnancy I got miscarriage. After three months I again become pregnant and my health become worsen day by day due to lack of rest and improper diet as time passed, I gave birth to a premature child who died after two days of his birth. After this, my mother in law proclaimed me in village as a witch who ate away two children of her son but no one thought about me. During five years I gave birth to three children. I continued to suffer misery in rest of my life in terms of physical and mental torture.
I observed from this story that woman has always been considered as root cause of every problem. Birth of a female child is considered as a "curse" in our society and hence she is an endangered sex, right from the time she takes her first breath of life or even before, she is bound to be oppressed and discriminated against by males throughout her lifetime. The issues which I would like to highlight through this paper are problems faced by women, societal reaction, cultural practices against girls and gender discrimination by families. Day to day, most of the women in our society are the victims of such issues. These are the major hindrances for women which pose several physiological and psychological disturbances.
In our society especially in rural areas people discriminates between boys and girls by giving all rights and freedom to their male child. However, the girls are always restricted from activities like getting education, basic rights of living and not permitted to go outside. They are not involved in family matters and only male members take all decisions for them. As in the above story, I analyze that there are causes and factors which are faced by this innocent lady who was unaware about her own basic rights because of educational deprivation from her family. Moreover in the male dominant society she was afraid of speaking about her own rights. Even though, she is responsible of doing all household work but after that she was regarded as a maid of house and always victimized by her husband. Furthermore, in Asian countries the poverty is the leading cause of gender discrimination among all societies. According to Mohsin (2004)
In Pakistan some traditional and cultural norms play an important role in placing a girl-child in a frame of mind in which she believes she is inferior to a male child and dependent on the support of a male for every task. (p.48)
In this story gender discrimination is the main issue which was faced by girl but this can have impact on her later life. Thus, only because of her gender she had to face hardships throughout her whole life. Even the choice of getting marriage is also not entitled to women and social culture norms was the dominating factor which leads to her early marriage. According to Bayisenge (2008) "a number of factors such as poverty, social cultural and religious norms, civil conflict, value of virginity and fear about marital sexual activity are major factors that contribute to early marriages."
Early marriage by name is a single issue but it can give birth to several other debilitating problems. Likewise early mother hood, greater risk of miscarriage, birth defects in newborn, discontinuation of education and adjustment problems. Because after marriage women are tied with loads of responsibilities such as child rearing which makes it difficult for young girl to maintain her good health in this situation. Early pregnancy in teenager can increase the mortality and morbidity rate which can ultimately caused by gender discrimination in the above story.
The other major impact of this issue is domestic violence which she had faced throughout her lifespan; in childhood physical and psychological abuse by her parents and after marriage victim of physical, psychological and sexual abuse by in laws and husband. Hence due to lack of freedom to raise her voice and lack of education she could never fight for her rights. According to Patel (2003)
Women and girls face terror from physical, psychological, sexual and economic abuseâ€¦.studies estimate that between 20 to60 percent of women worldwide have experienced physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner or family memberâ€¦it cuts across boundaries of culture, class, education, income, ethnicity and age. (p.111)
Every day in our surroundings violence happen, sometime we see and sometime we use to hear from people. As we look around us, most targets of domestic violence are women as compare to men. Every individual has right to get freedom, good health, education, safe environment and physical and social satisfaction. And if these rights are destroyed by their partner or family she should raise her voice for their rights. But in my experience and knowledge government plays big role in discrimination but there are some common obstacles too that is women has lack of confidence and awareness about the availability of support system which hinders to get help.
As a nurse we can play a major role to overcome this problem in health care setting and at community level. It's our responsibility to educate and aware people about rights of women, importance of girl child education, and impacts of wrong beliefs followed by our society. Involve elder people in session as they are the ones who are decision makers of families. The significance of female education must be emphasizing as she is the one who will nurture her children. If the mother is healthy physically and mentally the next generation will be healthy. As a health care professional also provide awareness regarding domestic violence as a health issue and it should not be ignored. Being nurse I will provide a good helping hand to affected victims and develop their confidence to take their decision for their life and find resources available to support them.
To conclude, I would recommend that through different resources like media and newspapers we should brought forward such issues like gender discrimination and women's' education with more focus to empower our Asian women's more. Further, cultural norms should be modified with the help of head of community groups by involving them in teaching sessions.