INDIA: India is a land of diversity with a profound culture, unique traditions, and social taboos. The country has seen developments in the economic, political, and military structure. However, the social taboo aspect of India still lacks development. Some of these taboos might not be a problem for men but it continues to be a dilemma for some women.
In India, whenever a woman chooses to live her life on her terms, she becomes ‘out-of-control’. Whenever a woman does not want to be a mother, she becomes insensitive. Whenever a woman chooses to chase her goals, she becomes selfish.
Here are some of the social taboos that are predominantly faced by Indian women:
Menstrual taboo is a social stigma surrounding periods. Throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, periods have been depicted as a “hygiene crisis” that needs to be kept concealed at all costs.
In many parts of India, women still struggle to overcome the stigma associated with menstruation. There are many shocking, daunting, and ridiculous facts related to menstruation in Indian culture. The widespread belief that menstrual blood is dangerous leads to behaviours that expose women to several health risks. The lack of awareness results in girls having to resort to rags torn from old saris and other clothing instead of investing in sanitary pads.
In developing and under-developed countries, periods are the major reason due to which girls miss school. Period shaming, lack of menstrual products, clean water all factors are involved in girls missing out on their right to education.
Menstruation is not limited to gender. The sad reality is that most of us are unaware of it. These topics are often ignored and are not discussed openly. Transgender women experience symptoms like soreness and pain during periods just like heterosexual women. However, they aren’t able to bleed. However, transgender men experience menstrual bleeding.
Social taboo surrounding the LGBTQ+ community
Homophobia is deeply embedded into Indian minds. From refusing to acknowledge the LGBTQ+ community to committing violence against them, the situation of the community is pitiable.
The concept of Homophobia was introduced during the British Colonial Rule in the 18th century. Homosexuality was considered an “offensive deed” in the British Raj. This led to a rapid decline in their acceptance. The majority of the Indian population is still following the 18th-century mindset.
Families in rural India are still homophobic. To protect the dignity and honour of their families, rural people kill homosexual individuals. Many individuals are a victim of corrective rapes which are perpetrated by their family members.
However, the situation is better in the urban part of India. Urban India is aware of LGBTQ+ rights and is willing to accept them. Social media, pride parades, and meetups are contributing factors behind the awareness.
It’s high time we start acknowledging our privilege, use gender-neutral language, and educate ourselves to make this society inclusive of diverse forms of LOVE because, in the end, LOVE IS LOVE!
Impact of body shaming on Indian women
In Indian society, beauty is defined by an individual’s colour, size, and shape. Due to this, the majority of men and women suffer from body shaming. Social media has played a significant role in promoting body shaming by showing fake beauty standards set over the years.
Body shaming is responsible for causing serious damage to a person’s psychological, emotional, and physical health. Constant body shaming can lead to self-criticism, insecurity, low confidence, low-self esteem, and even depression.
An individual’s worth has nothing to do with his/her weight, height, or other physical aspects.
Women with high levels of body shame report higher amounts of infections, poorer overall health, and more frequent digestive trouble and headaches.
Drinking, smoking and Indian women
Consuming alcohol and smoking is an important topic for debate in India. However, when a woman is smoking or drinking it is considered a sin. Judging an individual for their personal choices is a favourite hobby of Indians. But, when it comes to judging women, people can go to the extent of character assassination.
Indian women are capable of making their own decisions. Then why can’t they smoke? Smoking is extremely injurious to health and can have devastating effects in the long run. But, judging someone for their personal choices is equally hazardous. Stop stigmatizing people who smoke based on some trend that sells you this mindset in a phrase of “socially unacceptable”.
Discussing taboos can be often difficult and confusing. However, changing your perspective and communicating can be a game-changer. Communication is the key to all worldly solutions. It can change society’s perspective towards taboo topics like menstruation, body shaming, gender equality, sex, etc. Now is the time to bring India out of the idea that taboos are a part of our tradition and religion.