Sai Aduru

As Interviewed by Vishwa Aduru, March 22, 2015

Sai Aduru: In Her Own Words

I lived in India for twenty-four years before coming to the US. I was lucky that I didn't have any of my rights violated. However, one of my cousin’s had her rights violated quite a few times. My cousin, at a young age, fell in love with a man from a lower caste which was not accepted by her parents.

The caste system is a segregation of people based on the type of work they can perform. The caste system was first introduced by the Aryans when they invaded Southern Asia. Generations to come had to follow the parents trail and remain in that caste. For example, a king’s son would become a king, priest’s son would become a priest, and so on. Kings, ministers, priests and accountants are all considered part of a higher caste, whereas construction workers and barbers are considered part of a lower caste. You are born into a caste and you are only allowed to marry someone in the same caste. If you disobey and marry outside your caste, you are likely to be abandoned by your family.

Eventually my cousin married him without her parents’ approval and was abandoned by her parents. Couple of years later, after some convincing from friends and family, she was accepted back in home. Being a vegetarian my cousin had to cook non-vegetarian dishes at her in-laws in spite of her disliking. The husband then abused her, and she got a divorce.

Women's rights in many Indian marriages are violated when a bride would have to bring a dowry to the groom. To get married, the bride’s family has to give the groom money, assets or valuables for acceptance to marriage. Usually, grooms who have high earnings get rewarded with high value. In different states of the country they demand different things. In some states it is land, and in others it is money or jewelry.

The government of India didn't do much to stop sexual assault at the time. Citizens formed groups and organized rallies around the city to increase awareness of their rights. Media has also been a huge factor. Nowadays they are interviewing women and publishing their opinions for the public to read.

Parents would not allow their daughter (victim of sexual abuse) to report the incident as they believe they would be embarrassed from questioning by neighbors and chances of her getting married would be difficult. Also if the public is informed about the assault, the victim might be harassed even more, and the parents wouldn't want that.

In order to help their family keep up with medical expenses, women had to work for most of the day. They had to obey whatever her supervisor wanted her to do, and if he wanted to, he could abuse her.

A few decades ago women were only good for housework. They were only allowed to come outside for family gatherings, and not for any social gatherings. Nowadays, I believe it has improved a lot. Women are now allowed to speak freely and allowed to work equally with men. After India’s independence, women had similar rights to the women in the US (freedom of speech, expression, right to vote, etc.). If there is a situation at home, women are allowed to share their thoughts and help the situation. Back then, women's thoughts weren’t valued enough to change the outcome of the situation.

In order for equality, men and women should of course be treated equally. There shouldn't be jobs only available to men. There is still some abuse going on in India, and that should be stopped.

Right now women’s life is getting better in India. In years to come, I hope the government, media, and others will be more helpful to treat women equally in all respects.