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Coexisting with pre-existing Impediments: A modern-day narrative of patriarchy


Shakti is a 26-year-old crime journalist in the high-tech city of Bombay. Every day she

wakes up, fetches herself two leading newspapers, prepares her morning coffee while going

through the city news column of the Daily Happenings newspaper. Today she read yet

another disturbing tale of an acid attack on a minor girl of 14. Though she comes across such

incidents on a day-to-day basis, the ease with which such barbaric offenders manage to

escape the law enforcement petrifies her. She felt the numbness slowly taking control over

her senses. Her heart, brain, and soul aches for the sufferer. A few minutes later she gained a

little strength and acknowledged the reality of what and how it is. She got ready for her

wearing job and left her apartment for catching the daily metro.

While sitting in the metro, she noticed a lady diagonally opposite to her, getting scolded

by her husband. Within the next two minutes, her husband removed the gold earrings from

her ears and a gold ring (most probably their wedding ring) from her finger. She begged him

not to sell them off for it is the only gold jewelry left with her. The husband shut her up

berating that had her parents paid more dowry on their marriage; he would not have to sell off

her jewelry for paying off his debts pending to the drug dealer.


Soon the metro reached the Churchgate area and Shakti had no other option but to

proceed towards her office. As soon as she entered her office through the spotless glass

doors, she met the fellow editor who congratulated her for the success of their thorough

coverage of the acid attack case of the 14-year-old girl. However, he also informed her that

the acid attack case offender has been discharged because the body of the girl was cremated

even before conducting a post-mortem as she was never hospitalized. Also, there was not

enough evidence against the offender to initiate the trial and there were rumors that the police

has colluded with the accused and have been able to show his age as less than 14. Therefore,

the normal procedure followed for acid attack cases cannot be applied to a juvenile.

She furiously stepped towards the cabin of the Editor-in-chief’s room, vociferating

for justice. She sought his permission for questioning the police and their actions. She also

solicited the assistance of her fellow editor to come forward and raise his voice as they are

the ones who have witnessed the plight of the sufferer. However, her fellow editor asked her

to calm down and instead focus on th8e new tasks of the day. Ignoring his suggestion, she

asked the chief to look into the matter, and appeal against the decision of the court. The chief

after hearing the poignant cries of Shakti asked her to sit down and have a glass of water. He

assured her that her hard work has not gone in vain for she has already received credit for the

meticulous coverage of the nationwide hot topic. The continuing heated arguments between

the two came to an end when the chief reveals that the girl’s family has accepted Rs 50,000

from the offender’s family and taken back the case. She stumbled while her hope was

shattering.

Dejected she sat in her cubicle when a female cleaner approached her desk and

recounted her helplessness of a female sufferer’s family. Belonging to that stratum of the

society where women are viewed as a source for availing governmental schemes for girls, she

very well knew that long-term investment of time and effort for women or their rights is far

too much expectation from this male-dominated society. Being able to live, play, and educate

is already a privilege, therefore claiming equality and justice is outrageous. The safety and

respect of women are in hands of their men, father, brother, husband, and son. Their decision

is final and irrefutable. Hearing this crude reality forced Shakti to introspect how modern

women are taught to coexist with pre-existing impediments right from childhood instead of

questioning their validity. How despite being a beloved daughter of her dad, she never

bothered to wipe off the tears of her bruised and maltreated mom.


Shakti knew of all the existing anomalies in the system, yet she and thousands of other

women are taught to focus on their individual lives while shutting one’s eyes to the palpable

realities. The acid attack victim’s family’s helplessness to claim justice, the inability of the

woman in the metro to speak up and refuse, the bleak reality of cleaner’s existence, and the

ignorance of Shakti towards her mother. Right from childhood, the existence and

development of a woman are highly dependent on the beliefs of the community/society she is

born in. Modern women face patriarchal limitations in some manner while those born in

backward communities have their own set of challenges. From female foeticide to forced

pregnancies, from honor killing to rapes, from forced marriages to dowry deaths, from

stigmatization to female genital mutilation, all such problems can have a patriarchal link

whereby men in a superior position try to enforce their desire and wishes on women. Women

are not able to defend much and thus are crushed under the aegis of the prevalent system. Though

efforts are being made throughout the world to bring equality, yet it is still unknown that how

many Shaktis will have to feel Shaktiheen to finally realize their Shakti?

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Source: unlabelledmagazine.com

Brief Bio of the author: Rabiya Joshi is a 4th-year law student at the University Institute of Legal

Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. She has a keen interest in socio-legal issues and

their real-life implications. She aims to utilize her legal skills as a tool for bringing out a

positive societal transformation.

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