Is there a difference between the freedoms that men enjoy as compared to those that women do? And if there is, is it a difference that should persist as a general and socially acceptable manner in which society functions? These are some of the thought provoking questions that Oxfam India’s new video, ‘These Indians are in the Spotlight for all the Wrong Reasons,’ addresses. Watch the video here.

The video features four women and four men, from different geographical regions of the country, who are required to stand in their respective spotlights and answer questions with yes/no for an answer. For every yes, the spotlight turns brighter and for every no, the spotlight is dimmed. The questions were of a nature that reflected personal freedom, such as, whether or not they could walk home alone at night without worrying about their safety, whether they could work after the birth of a child or whether they would be required to take their spouse’s surname after marriage. At the end, the people standing in brighter pools of light enjoy considerably more freedom than those standing in darker ones. No prizes for guessing the results. All four men stood in pools of bright light, while the women stood in relative darkness. The spotlight here, serving as a marker of freedom, indicates the rapidly depreciating level of freedom that women enjoy in a patriarchal society.

The video is followed up by a quiz that you may take it here, in which the viewer can assess their own personal level of freedom along the same lines, in the face of similar questions. My result stood at a lowly 4/10 while a male friend scored as high as a 9. This scorecard was just as shameful as poor marks on that report card in school. Except, for the poor marks in that class test, you had only yourself to blame. For this below average scorecard, we, society as a collective whole, must hang our heads in shame.

The Indian Constitution, the sacred laws of the land, grants every citizen the Right to Freedom, provided they are not antithetical to the independence of the nation and do not disrupt public order. Therefore, politically and theoretically, a distinction between the sexes in terms of the freedom they enjoy, does not exist. This variation is largely a social construct that is constantly reinforced by the stereotypes and social practices that are considered a given, and very rarely questioned. In a society where women continue to be blamed for incidents of rape, and ‘provocative’ dressing is considered a justification for this heinous act, equality of the sexes appears to be a distant possibility that may never quite materialise unless each individual decides to take matters into their own hands. Equality begins at the very base-the family. Unless male and female children are treated in the same manner, with regard to education, respect, inheritance, work and marriage, equality cannot be expected in the larger domains of public life. India stands at a rank of 127 among the countries of the world in terms of Gender Inequality, according to the Gender Inequality Index of UNDP report of 2013.

Oxfam India aims at creating an equal and just society through their work with the underprivileged sections of society. They emphasise on the rights and freedoms that every individual is entitled to. Their work is spread out across several areas of justice, such as economic and gender justice. Poverty, health and education are primary focus areas.

Image Credits- oxfamindia.org
Featured Image Credits- junkee.com

Abhinaya Harigovind
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