Just last month, our infamous Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, became yet another blemish on India’s already spotted record of politicians who need to think before they speak. As if his views on promoting yoga and ‘good values’ as reasonable substitutes for sex education wasn’t enough, he’s gone ahead and stuffed his second foot into his mouth by making his ill-conceived views about women’s bodies public. While we're impressed with the flexibility of his jaw muscles, it's clearly not a required qualification for his job.
“As a medical man, I am depressed by this new trend as reported to me by many reputed obstetricians and gynaecologists.”
“A woman’s body is a temple, extremely important from the perspective of a nation’s future. Building a new generation of healthy women has a salutary effect on family, society and nation because each woman multi-tasks as professional in her chosen field, mother and teacher of her children, and, above all, custodian of collective values.”
India's Health Minister - Dr. Harsh Vardhan; Image Source: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
I. It equates women’s role in society with their own fertility.
India's Health Minister - Dr. Harsh Vardhan medevial ideas about women's bodies; Image Source: Media-salon.comi; indian women fertility
II. Subliminally suggests that women are not in control of their own body.
“It is portraying a woman’s body as a reproductive machine. When you start equating a woman’s body with a temple, the emphasis is not on her control over the body. Then it is an abstract place that other people are supposed to protect and worship at.”
Image Source: business-insider.com
III. Multi-tasking and fulfilling several roles is being touted as ‘glorious’ for women.
‘the most stressed out in the world’
“Indian society hasn’t kept pace with social expectations at homes not changing enough. It is this contrast, this conflict, that is causing the stress,”
Image Source - oprah.com; Women multitasking, Indian women multitasking
It’s time to change the narrative.