Saturday, April 09, 2005

No shoes please

In Pichor (Madhya Pradesh), there's actually a custom in some tribal villages where the women are not allowed to wear shoes. Nor slippers. No footwear.

Under the blazing sun and in the freezing winter, they're expected to walk barefooted. Any woman who breaks the rule is punished by the panchyat.
This rule, though, applies only to the married women. A daughter is treated on par with the son, but not the daughter-in-law.

One young bride decided she didn't like this rule. And when punished by the panchayat, took flight. And found refuge with a local women's rights organisation.

As reports filtered out, word reached the saffron ears of the then-CM Uma Bharti. The sanyasin wrote an angry letter to the district collector.

There was a huge hullabaloo immediately, with the district collector arriving in the village, with some 65 pairs of shoes. He gifted one to each woman that he could find, telling them to wear shoes wherever they like.

However, I hear that these shoes were duly wrapped up and tossed into a corner of the thatch-roofs, the tribe's ladies plod on, barefoot... and life went on.

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