Following the incident of rape in Delhi, which left a 23-year-old physiotherapy student dead, the struggle for women's rights and safety has gathered momentum in the country. While one would like to think that women across the country echo the same feelings and are probably equally restless about the patriarchal structure around which they have to arrange their lives, the RSS women's wing seems to be a study in contradictions.
One one hand they encourage women to come out of their homes to join a political organisation and organise camps to encourage sports on the other hand they keep reiterating that a woman's primary duty is towards her family and its well-being.
An Outlook article by Neha Dixit, explores the amusing mechanisms within the women's section of the party, called the Rashtra Sevika Samiti.
The article traces how the pracharikas or the workers of the group take pride in the fact that they are not backing or demanding women's rights. Rather, they seem to be content with the fact that they are working towards the creation of a 'Hindu' nation. The women's wing, which has close to 55,000 branches across the country also seem skeptical of the feminist movements working their way against patriarchal domination in the country.
In a particularly interesting section, the reporter talks to a young woman about the dynamics of the man-woman relationship, to which the said RSS workers reveals shockingly misogynistic ideas. What is even more strange is probably that, in the mammoth women's organisation she works in and for, such ideas are endorsed as perfectly credible.
The reporter quotes twenty-something Sharda from Jabalpur:
I turn to Sharda from Jabalpur. In her late twenties, Sharda has been a whole timer for five years. She tells me that apart from the shakhas, the Samiti also counsels women in their respective areas. There is a manual that is followed. When I ask her, “What advice would you give to a victim of wife beating?” she answers, “Don't parents admonish their children for misbehaviour? Just as a child must adjust to his/her parents, so must a wife act keeping in mind her husband's moods and must avoid irritating him. Only this can keep the family together.” Similarly, divorce is also a non option for women. She says, “Our task is to keep the family together, not break it. We tell the women to adjust. Sometimes, we try counsel the husband too.”
While women of the country might be busy taking potshots at men and the likes of Mohan Bhagwat, perhaps it's time to take a deeper, critical look at their own kinds.
Read the full Outlook article here.