As the world is gearing up to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, it is time to take a moment and recall the efforts taken toward the betterment of women in the society.
There is no doubt that feminist movements have come a long way and have been successful in achieving their goals in several instances. With leaders and activists standing up for women's rights, several evil practices like Sati — where the woman was burnt alive with her dead husband — have been abolished.
It's tough to imagine that the rights to vote or inherit property were initially denied to women in most parts of the globe, and no questions were raised about child marriage and dowry.
There are still several practices followed across the world that are extremely derogatory, and some are even a form of violence against women. It's high time we make a conscious effort to put an end to such customs:
The horrors of female genital mutilation
Recently, UN Secretary-General warned that 68 million girls might become a victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 2030 if nothing is done to stop the cruel practice.
FGM, which is a practice rooted in gender inequality, involves cutting the external female genitalia partially or completely. By WHO's definition, it includes any kind of injury to the female genitals for non-medical reasons.
The lonely life of the Goddess of Nepal
Nepal carefully selects a pre-pubescent girl from time to time to sit in the temple and be worshipped as a goddess. Though the practice might seem ordinary, the life of a Kumari (goddess) is not that great. The girl chosen for the ritual is completely secluded from society and takes her place in the temple daily till she reaches puberty. Once that happens, another young girl is chosen to replace her.
Chanira Bajracharya, who was once a Kumari, told the Guardian that young girls who sit on the throne must be properly educated and guided so they don't feel secluded when they go out and face the real world.
"It was a challenging transition...After retirement] I couldn't even walk properly because I had been carried all the time. The outside world was a complete stranger to me," said Bajracharya, according to South China Post.
Half-naked girls paraded in Indian temples
Another age-old practice has come under fire in the recent past. Young girls, who are close to attaining puberty, are dressed up like goddesses with only jewelry covering their bust area.
This shocking ritual is reported from the Madurai district in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The predicament of these girls does not end here. Aged 10 to 14, these girls are made to stay inside small temples for as many as 15 days and are said to be offered to the deity, reported The Covai Post.
Teeth chiseling in Indonesia
In Indonesia, a Mantawaian village tribe believes that women are pretty with sharp pointy teeth. To attain this, women undergo a painful surgery where an iron instrument is used to manually chisel the teeth until they become pointed, and all this done without any anesthetic.
Breasts ironing in Cameroon
In Cameroon, a certain community massages chests of young girls with hot spatulas and pestles to stop breasts from developing.
This is done with the intention of making the girl unattractive to men so that her first sexual interaction is delayed.
This cruel practice is not only extremely painful but often detrimental to the woman's health as it may lead to cysts, breast cancer, and breastfeeding issues, reported vice.com.
Wife exchange in Arctic region and Niger
People in the Arctic region follow the weird ritual of exchanging wives, and the logic behind this is that it confuses evil spirits.
The Wodaabe tribe of Niger in West Africa follows a similar tradition. At the Gerewol Festival, Wodaabe men wear an elaborate costume and makeup and dance to impress a new wife, reported the speakingtree.in.