While I’m infuriated by the appalling condition of our gender discriminated society and the demoralising environment I live in today as a woman, I cant help but see the implications this has on our health and wellbeing.
The conservative and restraining views of women in India has not only made us a dog bone for the dogs, but has affected the way we live our lives.
Why is it that she stays home while her husband works?
Why is that she adopts her husbands last name?
Why is it that the she cooks, cleans and looks after the rest but herself?
Why is it that the man gets a full education but she doesn’t?
Why is that there is a serious gender inequality even within the working environment?
Because from the time a girl is born, she is forcefully positioned as the inferior gender, growing up to see it, feel it and experience it all around her. This gender inequality is causing serious implications on our society.
Why is it that more women die from cervical cancer in India than any other country? A cancer that is a 100% preventable!
I then realise, not only does the average Indian woman live under the condition of being the primary caretaker, avoiding her own health while placing everyone else’s in front, but the restrains towards her gaining an education is a major root cause for this problem. Lack of knowledge and social stigmas are inhibiting her from undergoing basic necessary check ups. This “shush” attitude towards sexuality and sex is discouraging women to undertake such tests. A pre-cancerous test such as a Pap smear is taken once you are sexually active and every three years thereafter. Hence if you show up for one before marriage it causes an upheaval, so you just don’t. Moreover this attitude is translating into our healthcare system, presumptions on a woman’s sexual status are being made based on her marital status and if she claims to be unmarried, it is taken for granted that she is sexually inactive. A false presumption that is costing lives!
We have a long way to go but times are slowly changing. Today India has early detection centres around the country. Mostly offered in private centres or hospitals while medical colleges are providing camps for Pap smear / VIA /HPV DNA for cervical cancer.
So now what do we do?
We work from bottom up, top down and spread awareness about the causes and prevention of the disease. Education does not only happen in school but all around you and through people you meet. So be that person, educate your women about the importance of undertaking these tests and encourage them to know and treasure their bodies.
“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.” Audre Lorde