Why do religions control women so much

HinduismRevered as goddesses, controlled as women

"In general, the classic Brahmin ideal of women is the good wife who serves her husband, who consecrates her life to her husband, who gives herself to him, who, yes, it goes so far that one actually says that the wedding replaces the religious one for a woman Initiation. It is her religious initiation and the woman’s religion is service to her husband. So, in a nutshell, this would mean: service of the species is worship for the woman, so that is the idea of ​​the Brahmins. "

So the religious scholar Professor Birgit Heller from the University of Vienna.

"So women are by nature, from the Hindu perspective of bhakti religiosity and brahmanic religiosity, by nature actually those who are obedient and ready to make sacrifices and the like, if they correspond to their actual nature. Everything else is more or less aberrations of their true nature. "

The wedding buffet with vegetarian dishes, rice and filled flatbreads is covered with fly-proof grids. The guests: the gentlemen in cloth trousers and jackets, the ladies in silk or brocade saris hang on the lips of the priest, who swings a container of clarified butter over a fireplace and quotes Sanskrit texts.

Opposite the prospective husband and the bride, all dressed in red, sit on a pedestal. The young woman looks straight ahead with a lowered gaze and an impenetrable expression.

"There are old texts that are still used today in the wedding ritual, where, for example, a hymn is addressed to Indra, one of the important Vedic deities. And in this hymn a hundred sons are prayed for the bride, for example. The daughter is also valid Already at this time as a shame and the son is the light in the heavenly world. This is explained by the fact that the father lives in the idea that he is actually being reborn in his own son and that the woman is simply needed for this and she is important to him. "

Hinduism as a Patriarchal Religion

The religious traditions, mostly referred to as Hinduism, are part of a patriarchal religion. Their social structures, relevant values ​​and behavioral norms are shaped by men. Not only the initiative and creativity, so the definition of the religious scholar Friedrich Heiler, also the direction of the religious organization always lies in the hands of the men.

There are now women who are trained to be Hindu priests. And: a prime minister ruled the country for 15 years. Your daughters-in-law are politicians. A former police chief, ministers, successful business women, doctors and university professors have made some Western observers hope in the past that significant changes are underway in India.

Western-style individualism and emancipatory aspirations are still incompatible with the Hindu religions. But the fact that women have advocated their goals within certain limits is not new.

"There were important, very self-confident, educated women. Often they were the daughters, the sisters of the Hindu reformers who were involved in the reform movements, which were also very much encouraged by their fathers, the brothers and the like, who then also got involved So there is such an educated class of women who got involved here. And then there is a second, no less important root for these diverse movements and these are these so-called grassroot movements, these are movements that come from the whole grow below. "

And yet: These exceptions seem to confirm the rule again and again. The religiously legitimized dominance of men, which is based on a multitude of texts. Passages in which the woman is reduced to her role as devoted wife and mother. Writings in which women are portrayed as personified seductresses who lead men away from the spiritual path.

"There is actually always evidence in the texts that women have to be controlled. And that has to do with conceiving an image of women that is so heavily based on sexuality, physicality, fundamentally feminine Then in a societal structure that is patriarchal, that lives from the fact that the father knows who his son is and that he can be sure that the inheritance will also pass to his son and the like, there must be female sexuality, so to speak be heavily controlled. And that becomes very clear in the texts we have. "

Women as "seedbed"

On the one hand, highly revered as the mother goddess, on the other hand women are only considered the seedbed, as it is called in the so-called Manu law book. The seed is decisive, not its receptacle, it says in these scriptures. The wife must bear children to her husband. And, again and again, it is emphasized that it should be sons in particular.

"An infertile woman may be replaced in the eighth year of marriage; one whose children all die in the tenth year, one who only gives birth to daughters in the eleventh year. A contentious woman without delay."

As Shakti, as a female principle, they stand by their husbands. They complement them. For the Hindus, without the female principle, the cycle of the world would go upside down. But at the same time, women are also seen as potential seducers. In order to contain the danger they pose, they have to be limited.

"Yes, on the one hand they are dangerous for the ascetic men. There are various texts that say: Beware of women and don't even spend time alone with your own mother or sister, let alone with any strange women Ascetics must be afraid of women. On the other hand, there is of course this wild form of sexuality, which is also experienced as a chaotic-destructive force. And therefore: As long as women are under the control of men, this danger is pushed into the background or even eliminated . "

For a long time, male politicians had opposed a repeated demand from the ranks of the female MPs and rejected a quota for women in parliament. Women are not prepared for leadership positions, it has been argued. Or also: Popular politicians would then launch their daughters or their wives into parliament. And: Such demands are made by feminists who are strongly influenced by Western ideas and are far removed from Indian reality.

Finally, five years ago, a quota for women was introduced in the Indian parliament. Since then, a third of the MPs have to be women. Professor Birgit Heller:

"Indian women's rights activists very often describe the western women's movement or western feminism as being rather abstract and cerebral. And they think that this is simply not appropriate for India, is not transferable. Which does not mean that there are not entirely meaningful contacts or There are also relationships, but there is an independent development of Indian women's movements, Indian feminist ideas. "