Asmat: Underlining The Gender Discourse

Author- Oohini Mukhopadhyay

The N.G.O., spread its arms for yet another important, fundamental issue at the Hansraj College, Delhi University with its workshop probing the over problematized socio-economic concerns. 

Amongst the various areas of their remedial approach which include Civic Sanitation, Education, Awareness of basic rights and duties, the Gender discourse comes with a lot of baggage and needs constant working. Which was today, the major agenda prioritized in the talk, “Look Who’s Talking At GUTENBERG 2016: Rethinking Gender and Marginalities.”


After Asmat’s much acclaimed Soda renovation, the village where the group worked with the rural miscellaneous and gained a much intrinsic and covert understanding of the muddy side of the world, this event today promised some consideration and reexamination acknowledging the dominant vices that have captivated the people in a maze of prescriptions.


The key issues raised were (observing the rural Rajasthan):

  • The gender bias:

The men and women clearly do not understand the concept of change. There is a clear absorption of the ‘normative’ sense of gender. The old story gets retold and underlined and highlighted but certainly its eradication will take a lot of time. The women in the village are sitting on the floor while the men on the khaats. The women working from the early hours, finishing up the household chores and then running to the fields and sites of work, still go unrecognized during pays and of course at night in the beds. Beaten up to submission and unaware of the concept of ‘marital rapes’, their screams go null and void.

The “Mukhiya” of the family, the Patriarch by default claims his position only through the acceptance by the female patriarchs and the stamping of the assumed and self- appointed “care-taker”  goes without saying in an unequivocal way. Ceremoniously the men are exposed to addictions of all kind, card games, the drugs and the most important addiction of patronizing the family.

  • The Taboos:

Menstruation comes across as the biggest and most prevalent “taboo” which overburdens the women and girls not just with a sense of ostracization for the brief period but with a shameful deceit of being the “faulty”, “fallen” sex. The women are not only unaware of proper ways of sanitization during their period but are completely aversive to even discuss the issue. The fact that they do not want to speak about this reflects the deep rooted sense of being the inferior gender bound to go through the “punishment” as divinely ordained.

The female patriarchs are the most influential members in the families of the villages. The elderly women (in age and relationships) adhere more conservatively to the heteronormative principles as carried by the family and society. They prove to be the perpetrators of the discrimination majorly because the greed of superiority takes over their conscience and comes out from their own frustration of being in the same spotlight earlier.

  • The Changes Observed:

The young generation however is slightly tilting towards understanding the deeper truth at a considerably decent progress. Family compulsions to conform does not spare them but they are open to free discussion and recognize the importance of moving away from the certain ‘pregivens’ .


The various government schemes and yojnas are effective in the ideological implementation however, need the emphasis on active physical implementation, which are nevertheless being carried out by organizations like Asmat itself.

The caste system in Rajasthan takes a back seat as it is much more overshadowed by the gender disparities however, not fully evaded and hence need more attention to loosen the stigmas further.

As the Guest Speaker, the Indian Journalist and writer, Manu Joseph concludes, consequences are unavoidable, yet the steps should be never ending.

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