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‘Breaking the institution of marriage will not ensure women’s liberation’

Publication: The Print
Date: October 29, 2018
URL:      https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/breaking-the-institution-of-marriagewill-not-ensure-womens-liberation/article25355113.ece

‘There existed a society in the distant past where men and women lived on an equal footing’

Criticising the modern-day feminists who are projecting destruction of the institution of marriage as the only way for women’s liberation, Shivaganga Rumma, a progressive thinker and Kannada professor at the Central University of Karnataka (CUK), held that the institutions of marriage and family were, despite many shortcomings and flaws, supportive of life and mutual cooperation that the world had built over centuries.

She added that there was no better alternative at present to these systems of life.

She was delivering her presidential address at the 18th national convention of All India Poetess Conference (AIPC) at Rangamandir in Bidar.

“When marriage becomes a wall for both men and women, we will have to demolish it. But, at present, we have no better alternative to it. Moreover, breaking the marriage system itself would not ensure women’s liberation. When the whole system is patriarchal, an institution within it like marriage cannot be expected to be democratic. The destruction of marriage would rather create more problems,” she said.

Putting women’s exploitation, discrimination and oppression as well as women’s liberation struggles in a historical perspective, Ms. Rumma said that the institutions of marriage and family came into existence with the advent of the concept of private property as a historical necessity to institutionalise men’s ownership on private property. “Gender discrimination did not exist in the beginning. There existed a society in the distant past where men and women lived on an equal footing. In fact, the woman was the one who discovered agriculture and became the centre of production when the entire humankind was turning from food collation to food production. When the increased production paved way for surplus and private property, the men who achieved domination on the surplus pushed the women folk down to make them their subordinates through systems like marriage and family. Regardless of our likes or dislikes, the institutions of marriage and family would eventually wither away in the future for the very same reason that they had come into existence: private property,” she said.

Disagreeing with arguments that strongly suggest that writers and literary activists keep their ideologies at bay while creating literature, Ms. Rumma said that literature without ideology was a predicament for liberation. “Even if you want to maintain distance with ideology, philosophy and politics, they don’t leave you untouched. The preaching that women should not adhere to a particular ideology, that they should keep themselves away from politics and they should maintain neutrality itself strongly advocates status quo of gender discrimination and oppression,” she said and added that literature should reflect life and aspire for better.

Cooperation Minister Bandeppa Kashempur, AIPC founder Lari Azad, organising committee convenor Mangala Kapare and other AIPC functionaries were present. Earlier, a colourful procession was taken out through the major streets of Bidar.
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