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For her, it was always a lockdown

Many women have been confined to the home for long, running chores, rearing children, and tending to the elderly.

For the sturdy, hearty and dutiful Indian housewife, forever confined to her boxed household, it was always a lockdown. From running domestic chores, rearing and nourishing her children, tending to the elderly, looking after her husband, to repeating this quotidian cycle perpetually, she has always lived in a lockdown.

Before and after marriage, her life begins and ends inside the four walls, unnoticed, unpaid and unappreciated. Societal norms born out of patriarchy have conditioned and chiselled her in such a way that neither does she understand nor does she know about the possibilities of a life that she could have lived outside this space.

Even if she does, she does not have her right over the resources required to realise them. She has to come to terms with her lack of education and lack of liberty. She is taught never to comment and complain but to live her dutiful life. Never raise her voice and question but walk on the path of modesty with utmost reservedness and righteousness.

While it is a work in progress for the Indian women to find a space in the public sphere, there is an inspiring female workforce, highly adept and educated. Yet the chunk of Indian women who do not venture out of their households form a majority.

India’s female labour force participation rate (LFPR), which comprises women (15 years of age and above) who are working as well as who are willing to work, is a meagre 23.3%. Which means over three of four women are neither working nor willing to work. They are running their respective households and living their respective lockdowns.

Most of us saw more than a few aspects of our lives getting shattered by the lockdown. Suddenly we could not step out to work, attend school or college, meet friends, visit the movie theatres, shop in the markets and malls, have brunch in cafes and restaurants and party. But our housewives walked into the lockdown with utmost ease. Their life surprisingly was as similar as it used to be before the lockdown. It is so because for them it was always a lockdown and they have been living it since forever. They still had the same set of chores, and the same set of duties to figure out and fulfill, to respect and live the modesty imposed upon them by our larger society.

The coronavirus will undoubtedly be eradicated and the lockdown shall end. We shall step out and regain our social milieu. But our housewives shall be left behind in the clutches of the lockdown we have given them. The lockdown that shall remain until the virus of patriarchy dies.

porassharma825@gmail.com

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 12:59:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/for-her-it-was-always-a-lockdown/article31488982.ece

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