Violence and Oppression within Tradition


Humans are social beings and traditions play an important role in the society we live in. Every society of the world has its own sets of traditions and rules adhering to it. Our identity as an individual is also largely affected by the traditions we follow. As we all know, the society we live in is patriarchal in nature, and so most of the traditions that we find surrounding us are shaped in such a manner that they are to the advantage of the male population. Although both the sexes are equal representatives of the society, it is most often the women who have to suffer the brunt of the traditions. There are many examples which prove that women have been violated and oppressed in the name of tradition from time immemorial.

The oppressive nature of traditions is found not only in India but all around the world. This is proved by the huge resource of literature we find dealing with such topics. The downsides of tradition are written about in both prose and poetry. As literature is known to be a reflection and mirror of the society, all evils of the society committed in the name of traditions also find its way into it.

In India, various acts of violence and oppression are committed in the name of tradition. Some of them may include the old traditions like sati, forcing the widows to live a life of solitude and misery, prohibition of girls’ education, child marriage, female foeticide etc. Similar topics are found in world literature too.

One noteworthy fact here is that not only women but men too often have to suffer because of the traditions. They are forced to hide their real emotions to become ‘manly’ and child marriage is as disastrous for them as the girls. There can be many other examples of the same.

The fear that people harbour to question or oppose something as fundamental as the tradition itself it expressed through the medium of literature too. If people are not able to speak against something openly then they take up indirect means to serve the purpose, literature being one of them. The authors, who are also part of the society are affected by the evil traditions too and hence many of them have written about them and continue to do so. Some of the writers who have written on this area are – Toru Dutt, Jayanta Mahapatra, Bina Barua, Rosario Castellano, Adrienne Rich, and uncountable others.

The traditions are formed in such a way that women, who are its major victims are often unaware of the atrocities they have to undergo in its name. All the misdeeds are easily swiped under the carpet in the name of traditions and people are often afraid to question them.

Violence and Oppression in the name of traditions is a universal process. It has been going on for an immeasurable period of time and is not about to stop anytime soon if we don’t pick up our courage to speak against, oppose it and revolt against it.

The process may be difficult but if we are able to change even a few of the evil traditions existing in the society today, the future generations will always bless and thank us for it. And if the process is continued by every coming generation than we may hope for such a time when traditions no longer are the cause of violence and oppression, but it only acts as the upholder of our customs and culture. We may not get to enjoy the ultimate fruit, but if we are able to plant the seed in the barren land for a tree of hope and courage to sprout out from it then we can consider ourselves successful enough.


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Hi! My name is Gitika and I am a final year Masters degree student of English. I love creative writing and reading novels. I enjoy exploring new places and spending time with my friends and family. I hail from the beautiful state of Assam and my family is my strength.


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