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Pamper the ?doll?, activists tell men

THE LARGEST women empowerment movement in the State, Mahila Samakhya, has condemned the age-old tradition of ?gudiya peetna? (beating the doll) on the occasion of Nag Panchami. It?s a popular festival with a State-specific tradition in which dolls representing women and girls are whipped to shreds in public places.
By HT Live Correspondent | None
PUBLISHED ON JUL 30, 2006 12:25 AM IST

THE LARGEST women empowerment movement in the State, Mahila Samakhya, has condemned the age-old tradition of ‘gudiya peetna’ (beating the doll) on the occasion of Nag Panchami. It’s a popular festival with a State-specific tradition in which dolls representing women and girls are whipped to shreds in public places.

Mahila Samakhya project director Rashmi Sinha said at a press conference on Saturday that the tradition of beating dolls symbolised humiliation and violence against women and gave undue religious and social sanctity to boys, almost like a right to subject women to violence.

To create a positive approach towards women’s rights, the organisation will organise a special programme to condemn this tradition at Naimisharanya pilgrimage site in Sitapur on Sunday evening where this tradition is celebrated with much fan fare.

People would be encouraged to transform the tradition from ‘gudiya peetna’ to ‘gudiya jhulana’ (swing the doll). Street plays and cultural programmes would also be organised to attract the attention of the people gathered there. Sinha said the organisation raised the issue way back in 1997 in around 10 villages of Mishri block of Sitapur. Initially, no one agreed but through awareness drives and public meetings, people started following the tradition of swinging the doll. Many women had to face dire consequences for condemning the tradition, but exercises of sensitisation have certainly brought about change in the attitude of men towards women.     

Corollary to the tradition of beating doll is the custom of hitting symbolically the new bride with a stick as she enters her husband’s house. ‘Punsvana Sanskar’ is a tradition performed on pregnant women wishing to deliver a boy child.

She said traditions such as these encourage men to be violent against women and are responsible for the falling number of girls. Sex ratio in the State is cuts a sorry figure with only 898 women for every 1,000 men.

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