There was a furore some years ago over some woman employee not being granted maternity leave as she is unmarried. A libber lawyer finds this against the law and some women’s oganisations have been protesting against the discriminatory nature of leave sanctions. From this, one can gather how far the Indian woman has come, from Sati Savitri scruples
If one were to trace the evolution of woman, the Indian woman would be a perfect study as her travail has been the most colourful. In a short span of four decades, she has gone through various phases — each giving her a meteoric leap. Whether it’s the mode of dressing, manner of speaking or conduct in society; the Hindu Nari has proved that she is not one to stagnate. And now this — maternity leave for unwed mothers-to-be!
Apart from the fundamental right to conceive when one wants to, this demand creates a whole new wave of thinking. Society will now have to smile on women who carry a baby with a father nowhere in the vicinity. The maternal instinct which urged some women to seek a husband will now make them look out for someone to merely ‘father’ a child. Women can now have a baby without having to cope with a chauvinist husband, a host of relatives and meddling in-laws! They can also bring up the child their own way. With all these advantages; more and more women will opt for a permissive lifestyle, a baby sans hubby, and mother status without the wedding bells and dowry.
That’s on the plus side. Let’s take a look at the disadvantages. Parental instincts will, get squashed and fathers will end up boozers, wondering what their heir is shaping out like. With no progeny to provide for, men will squander their earnings on wine and women, thereby fathering more children. Women will have to depend on ayahs to babysit as there will be no obliging hubby or mother-in-law to share the responsibility. They will have the added burden of playing both father and mother and managing on one income.
All said and done, it’s more fun for a child to grow up with both the parents. A father and mother have each an important role to play - one cannot stand in for the other. The firm touch, the gentle approach, the discipline, the love — all these go into the world of a child. If women want to assert their independence, let them do so in various ways. Why make a third person suffer in the bargain?
Progress does not mean upsetting the applecart. If women want to prove that they are free to choose and carve out their own lives, notwithstanding social norms, it is their choice. There are certain value systems which are necessary to provide stability. The question is not of ‘moral turpitude’ or otherwise. It is of commonsense. Once society sanctions a certain hitherto forbidden act, there is no end to it. All progress need not be a war with society.