Women’s Clothing and Gender Inequality

BAD'14I am participating in Blog Action Day. Blog Action Day is a free annual event, that is organised since 2007. Its aim is to unite the bloggers from all over the world, by posting about the same issue, on the same day, in order to raise awareness and trigger a positive global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.  Past topics have included Water, Climate Change, Poverty, Food, Power of We and Human Rights, with over 25,000 blogs taking part since 2007. Blogs from 111 countries are taking part in Blog Action Day 2014 over the next few days. This year, the focus is on Inequality.

Gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right. Measures of gender equality include access to basic education, health and life expectancy, equality of economic opportunity, social and political empowerment. But this very basic human right is denied to most women.

Although there has been evident progress, many alarming issues regarding gender discrimination still prevail today.

In 2001 a militant group demanded that Muslim women in Kashmir wear burqas, head to toe garments that cover their clothes, or risk being attacked. Men threw acid in the faces of two women for not covering up in public. The group also demanded that Hindu and Sikh women dress so as to identify themselves: they said that Hindu women should wear a bindi (the traditional colored dot) on their foreheads, and Sikh women should cover their heads with saffron-colored cloth.

Cut to October 2014, veteran singer K J Yesudas suggested that women ‘should not trouble others by wearing jeans.’ Imagine, a public figure like him blames women’s clothes for sexual crimes! Statistics reveal that majority of the sexual crimes are committed by men. However, our society believes that it is women and their clothing that is responsible for this and it is up to the women to stop these sexual assaults.

So right from childhood, we have been taught that wearing short clothes, going alone at night, talking to strangers lead to sexual assault. It is implied that if a woman drinks or flirts or is sexually active, she is available and/or asking for it.

Is it that only skimpily clad women are assaulted? No, women have been assaulted even if they are covered from head to toe whether in a burqua, sari, salwar-suit and/or jeans. Women are raped not only in a deserted by-lane but even at homes or a place swarming with people. So, it is not a woman’s clothing that leads to her rape. By using the woman’s clothing as an excuse for a sexual assault, we are overtly stating that the man was a victim and he is not responsible for his actions.

It is a woman’s fundamental right to choose what she wants to wears and that should not be dictated by the rules preached by some men of the society.

So, my question to you today is “What will help reduce this gender inequality which violates a woman’s freedom to dress the way she wants ?”

Also linking this to 7 Days of Rediscovering Your Blogging GrooveDay 6 : Ask a Question

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20 thoughts on “Women’s Clothing and Gender Inequality

  1. First of all this is a great thing you are participating in Shilpa! The religion, as I have been observing is doing more bad than good to mankind. I don’t understand why woman has to wear traditional clothing while man enjoys whtever he wishes to. Other than Kashmir things in Afghanistan became worst after the interference such islamic groups- same happens in Indian villages by Khaps!
    I think when more women will lead a liberal lifestyle, women equality will become a norm automatically. Process of change is always painful by the result is rewarding. The more we talk about it the more things will change!

  2. Women’s clothing is NOT an excuse to eye her, pass lewd comments at her and/or touch her!!! I have asked this question each time I read horrible news reports of rape and murder! Education is of utmost importance and change in family values, the rigid patriarchal system needs to be broken down, and bridge the income inequality – Oh I can go on and on…this is a mean task but all of us have to help the cause, raise our voices, teach our kids….

  3. You bring up an important issue. Debatable in some ways, because often the issue of women’s or anyone’s choice is also dependent on popular cultural acceptance and many other factors. But of course that Yesudas making that silly comment was totally silly I think. A popular cultural icon needs to be more responsible in his or her statements.

  4. Only when men realizes that women are not just sexual objects but their equals; and give them the respect they deserve as most of the women tend to give to their better halves, brothers and fathers, probably this would help bridge the gulf in gender equality. If husbands respects his wife, automatically the son would learn to respect his mother, sister and wife and probably the women outside the family as well. My current take is that it’s a family affair. From the beginning itself, sons in the family should be guided toward respecting the females in the family. Who knows, it might help.

  5. If only people understood this basic fact ..They end up blaming the woman on which the crime is committed and not the aggressor…Their statements are devoid of logic…Do children who get raped ask for it? And so what a woman drinks or wears short clothes, her body , her choice..Definitely doesn’t mean she’s asking for it…!!

  6. It is pathetic when celebraties make such statements. They are only bringing out to the world about their ignorant side.
    One thing we can do is to raise our kids in such a way that they don’t get into this path. Teach them to respect and to be kind. Teach them compassion. Teach them the art of saying NO and how to accept NO as No. And to teach them, we need to follow these in our life, every moment. Change starts from within US.

  7. Yesudas’ comment was ridiculous, no doubt about it. But, many of the persons (male and female) who have criticised Yesudas themselves make snide remarks about the attire of women around them. In fact, many of us equate personal preferences (attire, non-veg food, smoking, drinking, etc.) with character.
    When it comes to inequality of any kind (gender, caste, etc.), we only look at others through a magnifying glass. Let us start introspecting as well.

  8. Great post, Shilpa. It really got me thinking about how women are dictated to about issues of clothing and how it is used as an excuse for them to be abused if they don’t dress the way religion or other authorities state they should. So wrong. Thanks for enlightening us once again.

  9. To hell with each one of them.Did you watch TV where a Sadhvi from Karnataka wanted prostitution to be legalized as women clothing are the cause of rapes.
    Time girls stood up for their rights and fight for gender equality.
    I am conservative,but,will never ever object to what must girls wear.

  10. The best way seems to be to educate our boys from childhood that there should be no difference in the way a girl vs a boy is treated! Change in men’s attitude is best done when they are young and by their parents. Hopefully, today’s generation of parents will achieve that!

  11. Spot on, Shilpa. The hypocrisy of society that blame women for crimes committed. Yesudas ridiculous antics shocked me and I am surprised why he was not taken to task by society.
    A tale of a sick society we live in.

  12. Very well written Shilpa. That comment by Yesudas was just stupid. I agree with Roshni, educating boys is probably the only way to achieve gender equality but that shift won’t occur overnight.

  13. Very sensitive post shilpa …. clothing has nothing to do with rape, it is said that in one of the study done in our country, it was found that most women raped were found in salwar kameez and saree… instead of blaming women for their clothes, it is better to teach boys/men to respect women, which must begin from family

  14. Thank you everybody for sharing your thoughts and adding your voice for this basic human right which is denied to most women. Appreciate your thoughts and views 🙂

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