Challenging patriarchy, these Maharashtra women are calling their husbands by their first name

Amid the debate over patriarchy in our country, a small Maharashtra village is making news after some nine women became members of a unique club.

In several parts of India, a woman avoids saying her husband’s name or any elder men in the family. Instead, she uses a pronoun or ‘father of my child’. Across India, it has been observed that the women don’t take the first name of their husbands due to the fear of consequences of not following the norms. Hence, these norms are keeping the centuries old practice alive in the 21st Century as well.

Shokingly, in 2016, a kangaroo court sentenced Malati Mahatoto from Odisha to be ostracised from her family and the entire village after she addressed an in-law by his name, according to a Global Voices report. When it comes to men, they also reciprocate the tradition by not calling their wives by their names, however, they face far lesser censure, if any, when they don’t follow the practice.

Amid the debate over patriarchy in our country, a small Maharashtra village is making news after nine women, including health workers and housewives, have become members of a unique club. The club is situated in a village called Walhe in Pune district. The club is a space women discuss and debate about the nuances of patriarchy.

The club is one of 56 being run across 13 states in India and is part of #KhelBadal, a campaign to dismantle patriarchy being run by Video Volunteers. Rohini Pawar, who for the past seven years has used her video camera to expose practices ranging from child marriages to ostracisation of people living with HIV/AIDS face, runs these clubs.

Video Courtesy: YouTube

In a bid to encourage the women to shed patriarchy and call their husbands by their names, Pawar shot a video of herself in which she took her husband’s name for the first time. “My mother-in-law and husband were quiet for a long time after the video ended. Prakash, my husband, turned around and told me to call him by his name from then on,” recalled Pawar, according to the report.

“Many women didn’t know the concept of patriarchy, then when I told them about it, they got interested and a sense of demand. The tradition is so deeply rooted that we hadn’t given it thought until this discussion club.”

Apart from taking the names of their husbands, the woman are also discussing about what they should wear, whether to apply vermillion or not among other issues.

“Each one of us is a victim of patriarchy. I am too. But this club gives each one of us the confidence that change will come. And I know that it won’t be limited to just a few families, there will be a chain reaction when every woman at the club goes home and shares what we talk about and do,” said Pawar, according to the Global Voices report.

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