As I sit down to ponder over the ‘burning issues’ that are bothering the Badaga Community, three issues pop up as very important. The FIRST one is the inequality with which we seem to be treating our women today. Though, this malaise is affecting all the communities in our country, I am concerned that the Badagas who treated their women folk with so much respect and love in the olden days, are slowly but surely pushing them into the second class citizens category.
In earlier days, the girls were married off at a much younger age [Kannu Huttadha Henga – beautifully brought out in the song mundhutti mandey hindhuga illey’from Berada Bellie Ballad’ but with the firm understanding that they [the girls] could seek divorce at any time if there was matrimonial disharmony and that they would be accepted back into the society without any blame and reservation. Getting married again was no big issue. She always, had the backing of her parents and her brothers as ‘guru mane’ gave unflinching support in all respects mainly financial. This was probably the main reason that the girl children were not given any share in the property.
Being brought up in an atmosphere where complaining and cribbing were not considered as routine, the Badaga women accepted life as it came and were always ready to sacrifice their own comforts. But then, the Badaga men, at least a majority of them, were, also, simple and hard working. Then came the curse of ‘drinking’. And with that, the problems and troubles of Badaga woman increased many folds and took a dramatic turn for the worse. The men folk took full advantage of the vulnerable nature of the women who had the additional burden of bringing up the children. Here, it must be mentioned that a Badaga girl was expected to be pregnant within a few months of marriage and invariably, there was a child to ‘celebrate’ the first wedding anniversary. Followed, of course, with many more children. “Mane thumba Makka” – House full of children – was part of the ‘blessing – Harakkay’.
H.N.Sivan with his daughters
Education has changed the fundamental thinking of girls. It has given them the courage to standup and be counted apart from the opportunities of economic independence by taking up jobs. Now we see a large number of Badaga women as teachers in schools and colleges. Many can be found in the government offices also. A few are making their marks in the IT field in multinational companies all over the world. Those who are, sort of forced to remain at home, have taken up MT – medical transcription. They are becoming aware of ‘online opportunities’ of working from home. Since most of the girls are educated in English medium schools, they are a more confident and assertive. Of course, this has brought out the unfortunate incidences of ‘marrying outsiders’.
Though still faced with the compulsion of early marriage, many girls have accepted ‘two children per family’ norm as the best option. But still, there was and is discrimination when it came to giving them share of property. The present law of the land is clear. Girls should get EQUAL share of the property. Needless to add, this has also brought the ‘unavoidable’ stress and tension.
Great Badaga leader Hubbathalai Ari Gowda‘s foresight in insisting on girl child education and equal share of property, that were personally ensured by him in his family nearly sixty five years ago, is appreciated by all.
The Badaga thinking, mainly mandated and manipulated by men, has found the clumsy excuse of not giving equal share of the property to the girl children by quoting outdated traditions. This is the problem.
I am convinced that one of the most important and burning issues facing us today is GIVING EQUAL SHARE TO THE GIRLS AS THE BOYS. I am firmly of the view that we have to resolve that we will give equal share to the girls if we have to save our community and country from falling into disgrace.
Let us take that resolution, HERE and NOW.
An email received from IPPF
|Dear Wing Commander
Look at the difference you’ve made!
Your support has helped us show world leaders how important it is to let women and girls decide what happens to their body, who they live with, the size of their family and their future.
We took your message, along with messages from 400,000 people in an incredible 151 other countries, to tell governments at the UNITED NATIONS negotiations over the last few months in New York, to put women and girls at the heart of their new Sustainable Development agenda.
193 countries agreed the next set of development goals, and they have committed to making sure that every girl and woman can live free from discrimination and have access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights within one generation. If they are implemented these new goals will change hundreds of millions of lives.
But if we want this new agenda to change lives – and save lives – it must become a reality on the ground. We will now be following how all governments implement this agenda in their country and to ensuring that there is adequate funding for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.”
We will be in touch in the coming months on this, but for now we wanted simply wanted to say a big thank you and to let you know the success you have contributed to. .
If you to see more about what we’re doing please visit our website: www.ippf.org/UNGA2015.
|From Tewodros Melesse,
IPPF Director General