Where Culture and Religion collide – female inequality within Indian communities
The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind of honest and revealing discussion from Sikh’s worldwide regarding yesterdays post on female inequality – and in my opinion, it has been long overdue. I can say with all honesty that I have, as of this post, not received one negative attack directed at myself. I have received many emails supporting my efforts to understand how and why this archaic female mistreatment and abuse continues within some Indian/Punjabi communities.
What has come to light is controversial and thought-provoking ,and it is clear to me that what behavior is going on locally with some Sikhs in the community, should not be accepted as a standard. Instead of the usual mainstream media hype about how bad Sikhs are, and the Indo-Canadian media outlets maintaining that it is not going on, or that its very isolated, and then dodging the subject, we need some truly open and safe, coverage and discussion.
Abortion of a female fetus,killing of female children and mistreatment of women in general is not a Sikh religious belief. Get over it. I cannot find a religious Sikh writing that says “you must treat your women like dogs and kill your daughters “. In fact, the Sikh religion is about equality for all, and to quote a comment from a Sikh reader yesterday :
“I’m not saying Sikhs don’t do these things, but it’s really important to note that they’re going against the faith when they do.Please don’t judge our faith on the basis of condemned and prohibited cultural practices.”
It must be remembered that there are massive differences between what is a cultural practice and a religious belief . It is a feature of some Punjabi and Indian cultures that atrocities against women are rarely reported and remain hidden. Sad, but true,and this is where perhaps religion and culture collide. I am told that a practicing Sikh man who subscribes to an old, prohibited Punjabi custom is not a good Sikh. In fact, the Sikh Code of conduct instructs that a Sikh is to have nothing to do with one who kills his daughter.
That alone speaks volumes. The most revealing comment I received yesterday was the most honest in nature, and shows how powerful a community’s influence can be on its citizens – for good or bad – when they fear to speak out against what they know in their heart is wrong. Please scroll down this link to read the post near the end , submitted by by Suki Dhillon, https://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2008/01/22/understanding-sikh-gender-inequality/#comments
That same powerful community influence and education could be used to effect such positive change that could lead to an end of any cultural practice that de-value a female child and all women. This is so easy to say – not so easy to enact, and Suki’s post sums up why better than I can say.
Stopping something that has been practiced culturally for centuries isn’t going to happen overnight, and it isn’t going to done without encountering a lot of resistance. No man is going to freely admit he beats his wife, or that he would kill his daughter if she shamed their family. No one. The pressure must come from his peers and his community to make him change his ways. No one should turn their backs on this behavior , for doing so makes you just as guilty.
Be a part of the solution, not the problem. Violence against women is universal, and no religion or culture is exempt. Confronting the issues with compassion and empathy, difficult as it is to do so, may mean the difference for one more woman, one more girl.