Age-old norms like child marriage, sati pratha, ban on widow re-marriage and illiteracy among women have encroached on the Indian society because of the Islamic invasion, a senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary claimed on Sunday.
Speaking on women empowerment at an event titled ‘Nari Shakti Sangam’ at Delhi University, RSS ideologue Krishna Gopal said that in the medieval period, a number of restrictions were imposed on women and girls to protect them from invaders. Stating that the medieval period was a very "difficult" time, he said, "The entire country was struggling with subjugation. Temples were demolished, big universities destroyed and women were in danger."
"Lakhs of women were abducted and sold in markets the world over. Be it (Ahmad Shah) Abdali, (Muhammad) Ghori, (the Mahmud of) Ghazni, all of them took women from here and sold them in markets across the world. It was an era of great humiliation," Gopal said.
Before the Islamic invasion, women used to participate in "shastrath" and even gave verses to the Vedas, Gopal claimed and added that the practice of child marriage started as a way to protect the daughters from invaders by marrying them off at a young age. "As a result, they stopped going to schools, gurukuls ... and became uneducated," he alleged.
"There was no sati pratha in our country.... But jauhar (self-immolation) started happening, women started becoming sati. Restrictions on remarriage of widows were imposed with a large number of men getting killed in wars, resulting in a shortage of men," the RSS leader claimed.
He then went on to say that over the years, the situation has changed. Girls outperform boys in board exams today and women make huge contributions in various professional fields, he said.
Gopal also cautioned women against being influenced by Western culture and exhorted them to remember Indian values to pass those on to their children. "Use technology, fly airplanes, work in the ISRO, become a scientist, doctor or engineer -- do whatever you like, but remain a woman."
"A woman is the pivot of her family, remember that," Gopal said, highlighting that it is a woman who imbibes values in her children.
The RSS leader stressed on taking care of the family and managing the kitchen at home, saying it is as important as having a career in a desired field. "Do you know that Indiraji (former prime minister Indira Gandhi) used to manage her kitchen herself when Nehruji (Indira Gandhi's father Jawaharlal Nehru) was the prime minister?" he asked the gathering.
"In our country, women are in respectable positions. We must see our past, look at the present, retain what is good, rectify what is not right," he added.