The history of oppression that women have been subjected to since time immemorial, had been taking shape in the Indian subcontinent with the invasion of the Mughals and the purdah system that they brought with themselves. This paradigm of sorts established its roots in India by blending itself with the common culture, especially the Rajput traditions due to the intensive interaction between the Rajputs and the Mughals. Since then the significance and relevance of the purdah has been debated upon. The rationale that goes into continuing it until now has taken several domains into consideration. The equations are complex and can be a combination of motivations which are either freely taken or forcibly imbibed in response to social pressure or coercion on the grounds of religion, culture, economy and psychology.
The reasoning that backs it still holds the patriarchal image of the society in the background veiling oppression and seclusion under protection and empowerment. Within the social constructs that define the dignity and honor of a woman, the purdah system has been propagated heavily across cultures thereby inhibiting a woman’s social, economic and personal value and limiting her movement outside the confines of the domestic territory. The osmosis that happens between the two cultures stemming from different religions resulted in the influx of values and traditions that were adopted into the local populations rapidly; the religious, cultural and social implications of the which can still be seen. The ghoonghat and the burqa have established themselves so deeply, that they still dominate across our country, which is exactly what I have tried to capture.
Sanghmitra Jethwani is a third year literature student at Hansraj College. On most days, she tries to capture the tales recited by the streets of Delhi through her lens, trying to find stories and faces that have been buried for too long now, on others, she attempts to find the meaning of life in between the lines of Urdu poetry, and believes that one day she eventually will.