With reference to the Girls by Mrinal Pande, examine thoughts on the issues raised by the story.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Pande's work speaks to the condition of being a woman in India.  The unnamed narrator, being treated in a secondary or even tertiary manner, and experiencing marginalization in both social and personal contexts are what Pande sees as the defining elements of being a  woman in modern India.  Pande's work is one that suggests being a woman in modern Indian society is to be seen as a second class citizen.  The prevalent issue raised in the work is the exploration of this condition of gender relations in Indian society.  

There is little doubt that such a message is relevant in today's India.  Pande's story in which girls and women are treated as second class citizens is reflective of a culture in which gender bias and discrimination are institutionalized. When officials of the United Nations recently spoke about how violence against women is the most pervasive example of gender- based discrimination, they speak of what happens in India.  Pande's work speaks to how the discrimination and social marginalization of girls in India sets the stage for expressions of violence and savage treatment of women on many levels.  

The issue of violence against women in India has received much in way of public scrutiny and attention, most notably seen in the Delhi gang rape case.  A social setting in which sexual violence and physical assaults of women are ongoing and pervasive across the nation is rooted in the gender inequality that Pande's work illuminates.  Council of Foreign Relations' Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman articulates this condition:  "In India, girls are valued less than boys,and this results in many inequalities in society."   Pande's unnamed narrator, a girl who does not even have a name, is a  representative voice of this inequality.  The social stigma that many Indian girls endure helps to lay the groundwork that enables so much of the violence and discrimination that they must face.  Coleman suggests that the political and lack of social safeguarding against such action is a reflection of a cultural perspective, the very same cultural understanding to which Pande's work speaks:  "Culturally, there's not enough exposure and conviction against those who are perpetrating acts of violence against women... [there is] a culture of complicity around violence against women."  The exploration of this "culture" is the central focus of Pande's work.

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