Women in Sikhism: Gender Inequality?

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Today in Gurdwara as I was listening to the Gurbani and hearing the Guru’s words it made me think about the state of Sikh women in the world of today. One of my favorite Shabads (Bhand Jamiyai Bhand Nimiyai) relating to women was played by Snatam Kaur. I thoroughly enjoyed singing as the voices of the sangat filled the Gurdwara. Little Charanjeet Kaur was in my lap listening and entranced in the Gurbani. Being a father of a girl and a husband I know the value of supporting the women in my family.

In this Shabad Guru Nanak so beautifully sums up the value of the woman:

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"From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. O Nanak, only the True Lord is without a woman. That mouth which praises the Lord continually is blessed and beautiful. O Nanak, those faces shall be radiant in the Court of the True Lord." – Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Raag Aasaa on Pannaa 473

MAN – The Dominant
I always feel a little awkward when I hear Sikhs boasting things like, "In Sikhism there is Gender Equality. Women can do everything than men can". Of course this is the ideal and the teachings of our Guru’s, however in reality and practice we have much to overcome to truly establish this so called "Gender Equality". In India especially it is quite common for women to be treated badly and not given the value and leadership roles that are deserved. It makes me think of Bollywood movies where the husband is this overbearing man who is the "God" of the house. Whatever he says is law and MUST be obeyed, or else she is beaten or scolded in some way. In these situations it seems the sole purpose of the woman is to take care of the man and the kids and do as the husband says. In general I think of a women being loving and coming from the
heart, and men being egotistical and coming from the head. I can understand the relationship of a woman serving her husband and contributing to the household, but much of the time it doesn’t come across to me as an equal partnership.


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Female Infanticide
Another major indication of this is the HUGE problem of infanticide in Punjab, where girls are not valued. The babies are aborted just because they are girls. The ratio of men and women in Punjab is so out of balance that it makes me wonder where all these men will find a wife in the future?

Preferential Treatment for Boys/Men
A less extreme example would be how the child/boy of the family is treated extra good and can do many more things than the girls. I’m sure other women could share more examples like this relating to being in a family with other brothers and how they are treated in and unfair way because they are a girl.

Physical/Sexual Abuse
Then there are the issues of physical and sexual abuse by other dominant men. Much of this is kept secret if discovered by families. I have also heard from other Sikh women’s groups about how many families take the side of the man and don’t give the support that the woman needs to deal with these issues. Just imagine that you are being raped or beaten and get no support from your family?? Again the women becomes the victim without support, from her OWN family. I can only guess how widespread these issues are.

Seva in Harimandir Sahib
It baffles me how a religion that has a core belief of Gender equality can justify not allowing Sikh woman to play Gurbani Kirtan in Harimandir Sahib or certain sevas which are "reserved" for only men. Ok…if this were some small random Gurdwara somewhere one might just write it off as a small thing. However when this is the case at THE Harimandir Sahib which is one of the most visible and visited place of worship for Sikhs, you would think that people would do what is right.

Khalsa Women – Panj Piaray
Some people email me from time when I post a picture of the Panj Piare in our sangat which most of the time has a woman. The comments I get are like, "women can’t be in the Panj Piaray". I think that is ridiculous since Khalsa has no gender and the "Panj Piaray" is any 5 Sikhs of the Guru, not any 5 men of the Guru. This is such a clear indication of how deep the issue of gender inequality is in the Sikh communities and how we rationalize things to suit ourselves and our own understanding.

When I last went with my family to Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, after Asa Di Var they were giving the "panj piaray" prashad, and I held my cupped hands up to receive it. The sevadar gave me parshad. My wife who was right next to me innocently had her hands raised and cupped ready to receive the Guru’s prashad, but the sevadhar would not give it to her because she was a woman. I then took half of my parshad and gave to her. The sevadhar and another person then tried to scold me that I couldn’t do that. I wrote a whole blog post on the topic of women and the panj piaray if you are interested in reading more.

The Kirpan – Protecting Those in Need
I think many of these things are negative cultural issues which will change over time, but I feel that as Sikhs of the Guru it is our duty to stand up in support for our sisters, daughters, aunties and friends. We should not just stand by and allow these things to continue. The kirpan is there to remind us to stand up against injustice, and to protect those in need. If we cannot do this for the women in our own family/community, how can we do it elsewhere?

Help Create Change
What can you do to help? To start I think to we can all make a difference by first looking at the actions of ourselves, family and circle of friends. There may be negative things that you or others do without even thinking about it. The first step to change is awareness of the problem. In your daily life be aware of these issues and stand up for women when something is being done that is not right. The things could be small, but they are just as important. Let us honor, respect and truly include our Khalsa sisters as Guru Gobind Singh would have, and stop these practices.

Please share your thoughts, experiences and solutions related to these issues so that we can work together to create change.

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35 Responses to “Women in Sikhism: Gender Inequality?”

  1. anildev_malhi says:

    The issue of gender inequality is a global one, its not only confined to the Sikhs.

    Having said that, i am indeed deeply saddened by the rate of female infanticide in Punjab. The main reason of infanticide is the ridiculous dowry practice which is still practiced by some Sikhs.

    Our religion forbids dowry. However, some parties still demand for dowry from the bride’s family. Dowries can range from automobiles to houses.Just imagine, if you have 7 daughters, it would be impossible to get them married. That, I feel is the reason for abortions in Punjab.

    Sikhs in Malaysia do practice some form of dowry, but its not to such an extent. The bride’s parents are expected to present the bridegrooms father with a Gold Kara, the bridegrooms mother with some Punjabi suits and jewellery. The bride also receives lavish gifts from her parents-in-law, therefore it’s something like a barter.

    Education is the key. With knowledge, realisation is achieved which in turn brings about a sequence of events that will eventually purge the burden of Dowry from Sikh culture.

  2. Manjit Singh says:

    Great thoughts Gurumustuk! I agree, more needs to be done and just claiming that Sikhs honor women equality but not following thru with it with our own actions would be close to being a hypocritical Sikh. I think same goes with celebrating boy births with laddoos and not girls. Hey, I passed out ladoos when my daughter was born, and actually felt proud of the fact.

    It all starts with fathers and mothers. They need to teach young ones to respect every thing from race, color, gender, religion etc. If parents themselves are racists, casteists, chauvinists, feminists, etc. that is biased against one or another form, kids will pick up what is being said and acted upon.

    Another excuse or blame is that there are pressures and influences from the majority communities such as Hindu, Christianity, Islam etc. But I think that is just an excuse, even Gurus were able to live among majority communities, governments, rules etc. and still afford equality to women. It is kind of like saying, well it is okay to keep slaves, drink alcohol, beat women, mistreat kids, smoke, cheat, beg etc. since government does not do anything about it. We as Gursikhs have to rise above and beyond that and get out of that comfort zone to make any changes otherwise we are just claiming to be poor victims of law and majority society etc.

    Thank you for the post and doing something about it!

  3. Prabhjot says:

    The challenge today lies in reforming sikhism at all levels. Gender inequality is only one aspect of it. Sikh leadership (modern mahants) is very poor and motivated by personal gains, sikh youth is disillousioned the current value system of sikh instituions. Very few want to read or listen to the Guru since it is very convenient to give some money at Gurdwara or hire a granthi to do akhand path and get the prasad in the end, without even listening at once to what has been recited during those three days of path. What a hypocrisy! It is the greatest form of disrespect I have ever seen for the Guru- so unfortunate for the religion with wisdom as Guru.

    Or may it is the god’s will!

  4. Rajwinder Kaur says:

    I thought I’d add a few lines based on my experience as a Sikh woman. Gender inequality is so embedded in our culture (and other cultures as well) that it will probably take who knows how long before we can actually say that “yes…women are equal” It is easier said then done…many people like to say that women are equal and have equal rights; however, within their own homes, they don’t practice it! I also think that times are changing, which gives women some hope. What is very frustrating is that women abuse, whether it’s physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, psychological, financial, etc, is not talked about in the open as much as it should be. Especially in India, how often are their consequences for someone who abuses a woman? Most often the blame is put on the woman – “she must have done/said something to upset him.” Speaking from a personal experience, my uncle who drinks a lot, beat his wife. As a result, she left him and has not returned home since. It’s been over 10 years. Even till now, most of our family blames her and accuses her of so many things and being angry at her for not coming back! I think what we need to realize is that children learn all of these behaviours/values/beliefs from their parents/families. Children learn what they see! In order to help make any change for the better, we need to begin within our own families first. We cannot change the whole world, BUT we CAN change how we live wiht our families.

    In regards to Harminder Sahib: It’s the first place I would expect to practice equality. No wonder why people, especially children, are so confused by the hypocrisy…they hear one thing but see another.

    May Guru Nanak Dev Ji bless all of us and help us understand the true meaning of equality. Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh.

  5. Rajwinder Kaur… thank you for sharing! Your comments are exactly the type that I was hoping would surface. It’s important for us all to share and discuss these issues to be of support and educate each other.

  6. Kiran says:

    I think what Rajwinder is saying is totally true! how can we expect to preach equality to the rest of the world when its not practised in most Sikh homes? its no wonder the children are growing to be confused, we must educate and talk to eachother baout such issues. I think it should begin in the home first and then be practised and preached to the outside world.

    Lots of pyar

    Kiran

    p.s its 13* in London today so not as cold as it is normally but lots rain with some sunshine

  7. Ravinder Singh Randhawa says:

    The challenge is culture in Sikhism. What we have to understand is that culture is embedded by those of us who surround us, who may or may not be Sikh’s. What we have to do is to step out of the culture aspect and realise the true words of the Guru’s. They were not saying these things just for us to agree and do something else in practice but also for us to practice the words taught. At the end of the day they are and will be the teachers and us the students. We should seek solace and comfort with the words and understand them and implement them within ourselves for a start then teach those around us the importance of following those words. The biggest benefit of all this is the self-happiness and contentment that you will have for yourself and your surroundings once things are corrected. All things start from within and grow from there, love is an amazing thing once it is realised. May we all feel the love in the Guru’s teachings..

  8. Rajwinder Kaur says:

    We cannot change what’s happened in the past; however we are responsible for the future – we are responsible for our children and what they learn and see. Yes, we cannot see and control what children learn outside; however, we are responsible for what they learn at home. I have seen some families where little children, as young as age 5, have already learned that women are inferior….I was devastated to see how this one child was talking to his mother. It’s very sad and discouraging to see children learning this behaviour.

    Also, I have noticed, based on my personal experience, that people who oppose women abuse are also discriminated against. I think most people think that women abuse only means that it must be physical. But no…it includes a lot of different types of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, psycholgical, spiritual, financial, etc. My field of work sometimes involves working with men who are charged with domestic assault. Not one of those men has ever admitted to abusing his wife. They all minimize the issue. I am not suggesting that all men are like that. Believe it or not men are also abused in some families. But it is predominantly women that are oppressed.

    I’m sure many readers have seen or heard that when a boy is born, there are celebrations and gifts/sweets,etc. And when a female is born, you’ll hear commments like “it must be god’s will” It’s really sad especially when these comments are said by women themselves. Men are not always the perpetrators; there are many women as well that abuse other women.

    I apologize for this long message. I hope it makes sense :)

    And oh ya, we have beautiful weather here as well in Toronto.

    Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh

  9. Kiran says:

    Again Rajwinder I totally agree with what your saying, women abuse too. So how would you suggest that we eductate the people in our own families?

    “when a female is born, you’ll hear commments like “it must be god’s will” My mum is like that too and many other women and men in my life. I myself thank Waheguru Ji for my own mind and that im able to think openly with it. You would think that being a psychologist in training would help me to help my own family with such issues but belive me its soo isn’t the case.

    If anyone could think of such ways in order to start eduating out backward thinking loved ones please do say, beacuse just like charity and seva, education should begin at home and then be preached and practised to the outside world.

    Lots of pyar

    Kiran

    p.s its cold in London this morning, with minimal sunshine.

  10. Rajwinder Kaur says:

    It is very difficult to change the older generations because they have lived thier whole life practicing such beliefs/values, which they learned from their ancestors. Helping children understand equality is much easier, I think anyways, because they are like a sponge. One way to practice equality within our homes is to have boys involved in chores so the girl is not the only one who is responsible. Having been the only daughter, I know exactly how it feels haivng so many expectations from others. It’s important to point out to our families every time you notice something that does not look right. Even if they disagree with you, that’s okay….at least you have pointed it out, which they will remember. Last time I remember someone made a comment when she heard that a relative had a baby girl….she said something like “jidaan parmatama nu manzoor” Meaning “as god wishes”….I pointed that out and said that “remember…you were also a female when you were born!” She has never made that same comment since! :)

  11. Learner says:

    Firstly, Gurumustuk thank you for your thoughts on this subject, your words come fromt the heart and have so much meaning. The advice/thoughts you share have such impact and are such a great way to begin making a change on this extremely important issue.

    Rajwinder Kaur and Kiran, you have both made such excellent points. Your discussion is both uplifting and inspiring and will definitely have an impact on anybody who reads it. I agree wholeheartedely with everything you have said, and it is for sure very difficult to change the older mindset! But I think as with many other practices in Sikhism, it starts with leading by example. If you don’t follow the traditional customs that deprive/hurt women and act from your heart to display the principles of our Guru’s (women equality), this in itself will cause people to think about their own actions, and be inspired by you. Then, as Rajwinder Kaur said, it is essential to instill the principles of equality within children, whose actions in their future will be impacted tremendously by what they learn now. It does begin with bringing about positive change within our own homes first, and then to the rest of the world.
    Again, thanks so much for your comments.

  12. singhni says:

    What Gurumustuk has written about the abuse of women is very true in general and particularly in Punjabi Sikh homes. On the other side, todays’ women are highly influenced with the feminism. Intoxicated by the ‘freedom’; they fail to differentiate between ‘abusive’ marriages and ‘difficult’ marriages, hence often leave the marriages where there is a hope. Lot more marriages can be saved only if we can implement a simple change for ‘mandatory marriage counseling’ before the couple goes though Lavaan. If a Sikh couple understand the meaning of ‘Sikh marriage’ and both husband and wife are aware of their roles to make their marriage blissful, chances of any kind of abuse will be minimized. Any kind of abuse is passed on through generations in a family. At least one woman in this lineage needs to be spiritually strong enough to bring a change. With her ‘faith’ and wisdom, she brings a change in her difficult marriage and then raises the happy, contented and responsible children; who value intuition of marriage in their lives; who value role of father as much as role of mother in raising children. Gurbani is ‘adhaar’ for a Sikh, our women needs to read, understand and practice Gurbani in their lives in order to bring this change. A women does not need to seek happiness outside of her, but she is capable of bringing that happiness in others lives.

  13. Nirlip says:

    Thank you for posting this. The great struggle has always been to separate out the culture from the religion. In a religion like Sikhism, this is especially important because it was and is such a progressive way of living in and thinking about the world, as well as thinking about God. And because Sikhism requires rejection of much of the “culture” and “social” which existed and does exist, so that a true path to God can be followed. Progress is desperately needed, otherwise youth leaving the religion in droves will continue and accelerate.

  14. Jaskooner Singh says:

    Hi everyone.

    Women is Punjab are given very little respect and are seen as merely valuable property that must be controlled so that the next generation can be born. One particular point is the use of women in chain migration to Canada. This is where through genuine arranged marriages a woman is used to go through numerous marriages bearing children from different husbands so that their entire family’s can migrate until her usefulness is ended. The women is given great, in what is seen in the west as synonymous with feminism, which is sexual freedom through this practice but has not gained any respect.

    The other issue is the extremely low expectations that are held for women from punjab. The cause of their degradation is the society they are born into and how they are raised but they are instead blamed for the “what else do you expect from women” attitude.

    We have this problem in our local Gurudwara where in debates in front of the sangat, the men now understand that you must not in any way raise your voice or put your self in a position where the women can claim that she holds the belief that she is being threatened, which leads to some atrocious behaviour by the women who know that there is no sanction on them.

    One of the favourite lectures by our “Bhai Ragi” in the Guruwara is the admonishmnet to the women to please control the children and to stop gossiping.

    The only way forward is to give the benefits of a modern education to punjabi women so that these issues are not used as an excuse by the existing bodies to keep them out of their due seva.

  15. Anupreet Kaur says:

    I’ve only had time to read through a few of these comments, but so far I have to agree with the fact that many women don’t preach equality in their own homes. I speak form experience when I say women often shy away from their husbands and are almost scared of discussing with them as an equal, this may be as much the mans fault as the womans, its impossible to tell and i don’t wish to generalise. I also feel that men get slightly intimmidated when women are willing to put in a louder mouth than they can!
    Also at family gatherings the men tend to sit in the living room and discuss politics or even religion, i always find myself sitting in on these conversations and all heads turn when i open my mouth to speak, its a look of shock!! And nobody seems to respond to what i say either! maybe its because im still a Teenager and my oppinions seem somewhat erm….understanders?!
    But im still the only girl in the room….oh well! Im lucky that my parents want me to be independent, but even so i still get the feeling i’m being pushed into the kitchen for the wrong reasons…if you catch my drift!
    Thanks for reading this HUGE essay! Apologies, any criticism and comments are much appreciated,

    waheguruji ka khalsa, waheguruji ki fateh
    Anupreet Kaur

  16. Anupreet Kaur says:

    Just something to add:

    I just wanted to know about your oppinions on culture and sikhi?

    I thought that being a Sikh there shouldnt be any cultural influence, punjabi influence, the practice of dowry and gender favouretism I thought was a cultural issue in the Punjab, and as such has nothing to do with sikhi.

    Also Lohri?!
    I don’t really understand why we do Lohri? i understand its a Punjabi thing….but i really have no clue!
    Appart from the Saag and Makki di rotti =D
    thats always good hehe..

    Please help clear my confusion!

    Much appreciated

    Anup Kaur

  17. kuldeep says:

    What really makes a woman strong is the power she wields behind the throne so to speak..Any bra-burning woman is not strong..She wants to be seen and heard..she is not heard at home..The real power lies in the woman who, though quiet and subdued wields the real power in  Sikh homes, it appears as if the woman is subjugated..but it is not so..the woman knows what is important for the family to flourish..Men in their early years..if they are the bread winners appear to be strong..but the real strong woman decides that the family unit is important and gives the floor so to speak to the  man..but concentrates on her family and house..but not for a moment is she down trodden..she appears to be but is not…. Its like retreating before the real attack.. when she rises like the at the right moment to claim her place..after fulfilling her duties to family…

    Having said that there are women downtrodden..but they are few..Any woman can rise from the ashes so to speak , if she wishes to..!Most women who value the family and children decide that her priorities are not herself (sacrifice is an important ingredient in the strength of the woman..and Sikhism )but her family..husband and children..The woman who wants to win on any issue is not strong..The woman who knows when to give in is the wise woman and there lies her strength..There is  a great difference between the west and eastern concept of strengthequality in a woman..So lets not start judging when we have no experience of or understanding of different cultural perspectives of women..!

  18. Anupreet Kaur says:

    thanks for replying!

    Apologies penji for being blunt.
    Is there any Gurbani that supports your side of the argument?

    Its an odd subject, but its not about bra burning or screaming for attention, women should claim their place in the home etc…….

    but its not about winning, its about being able to equate with your male counterpart when necessary. Its just odd thats all! i fail to understand it! Why because you’re a woman should you not feel free to act as 50% in a relationship….or be able to argue you’re own case? 

    Guruji blessed women with mouths…if he did not want us to speak…we would not have them.. ; )

    im not a crazy femminist or a very argumentative child .. im just trying to figure out my place!

    Thanks for reading, feel free to comment and critisize

    Much appreciated

    Waheguruji Ka Khala Waheguruji Ki Fateh

  19. kuldeep says:

    From your comments, I can see you are still quite young..experience is quite a teacher. While Gurbani holds answers to most of our problems..the wisdom gained from experience and obseravtion also has validity..Remember, our guru has said..’Hum jagat tamasha dekhan aayoh..'(quotation may not be correctly quoted)..Remember, this is a play..do not get attached to it..We have to shed our egos, anger, attachment, pride,lust,etc..Become an observer of life..it will teach u many things..

    Re 50% partnership in a marriage. A marriage is not about percentages..its about partnering each other and helping each other to meet God..sole function of our lifes. My husband and i do not have a 50% equal partnership..there are times/situations when he is dominant and others where I am..it depends on what skills we bring to a marriage e.g. I am a thinker, great organiser, coordinator, etc..My husband is quite tunnel-visioned but whatever he does he does well..I have a global perspective of things..so I can master a lot of things but superficially..He can master a few things but in depth. We needed both perspectives in our marriage. He was good in his one job..I was able to manage my family, household and job requirements well to a certain extent. i cant do what he is good at and he just cannot see the global picture of issues..so if I wanted him to be equally involved (50%) he would have failed miserably as i would have too if I had to focus on one thing absolutely ( I just couldn’t). He has a great determination to see anything through despite his limitations. i would give up easily if I found things too hard.. and so on.. In a marriage we have to look at each others’ strengths and weaknesses and work with them.  This takes great patience and understanding. There are times when both sides are exasperated because the other is not seeing the point or not doing what the other is doing but its really not possible for them..That is why understanding is an important ingredient. As long as both partners are pulling in the same direction..ie  their fundamentals are the same..then these differences or apportioning the relationship becomes irrelevant. If u think in percentages about a relationship its not a relationship at all..

    I do have to add this and I am sure I am going to make a lot of people angry..but I will do it anyway.. I do believe this is the age of the mouth..People say too much/think too much…If only people would observe, listen, understand, their lives would be much better..Women’s normal /natural intuition has been jeopardised with the development of their thinking powers/education. Feel more/listen more/intuit more..its  a great journey and u will meet God in the end..because gurbani says..jin prem kio tin hi prabh payoh..’ With love there are no percentages..no equal partnership..you sublimate to the God within each soul..and then your duty becomes to serve the person with the God within..!! not argue about percenatges..Au revoir..Please accept my apologies if I have offended anyone..

  20. Anupreet Kaur says:

    Wow

    I really enjoyed reading that, thanks =D I’ll take it into account. Haha. experience is deffinately one thing im lacking…severely!

    But hey, thats why us lil pepople look to others for guidence.

    Thankyouji !

    Wjkk Wjkf

  21. kuldeep says:

    You’ll be o.k.. Don’t worry..Life is great. Enjoy the ride!

  22. Sat shri akal JI.    i am totally inspired ur thinking.

  23. Anupreet Kaur says:

    whos thinking?! lol

  24. Sharan says:

    Gurumustuk, you write well, it’s nice to know there are people who think like me.
    I was in Punjab recently and while I was visiting a very famous temple, I spoke to a couple of the sewadaar’s about the absence of women in the kirtan, one of them replied that ‘women should stay at home and do what they are born to do, sewa of the family.
    I was shocked, even though in the past I was questioning why Sikh women are not given the same respect as Sikh men I never thought that Sikh men are the cause of it.
    Female infanticide, Dowry, abuse, are all problems linked to women.
    Even though the problem starts at home, where women are not involved in decision making, where a woman has no right to speak up, or have an opinion, on a larger scale it starts with the leaders of Sikh religion who themselves are not following what Sikhism stands for.
    A Gurdwara  is a place of worship for the sangat, yet the sangat has no voice, How many Sikh women have the same status as a Sikh man? How many Sikh women are the presidents of a Gurdwara? How many women do we see speaking about Sikhism on T.v or radio? How many Sikh women do you see become committee members, and if they do how many actually have a voice.
    This is an issue, Sikh women need to be equal to men not because they are better but because they work just as hard, and because thats what Sikhism is about, equality for all.
    Women need to stand up for themselves and men need to back them to give them the right to be equal.
    Today If we ignore the fact that Sikh women can’t take part in certain sevas because they are “reserved” for only men, then the future doesn’t look to bright for Sikh women.
    we need to ask questions to get answers, it starts with all of us, we must do our share.

  25. Amrita Gill says:

    I agree with this article. I believe many men and women are treated differenly. But I believe its not only Sikhs there are other religions and individuals who treat men and women differently as well. I believe it becomes extremely difficult for some children more often females to understand their parents views and meet with them especially if they live abroad. Growing up many girls living abroad want to be equal and the same just like the girls they grow up with who r of different cultures. They want to do the same stuff their peers do. For instance in many families where the male is more dominate does not get  questioned as much as the female does in regards to going out with friends. Also, the male tends to get away with more stuff then females do and families take the side of males. Not only this but girls are taught to do housework since it is necessary for their marriage. I do not agree with this. I believe both men and women should pitch in with household duties and not leave women to 100% of everything. I also believe that many parents are so strung up on marriage that they tie their entire life around it. Girls are said to be the respect of the house so they tend to let their girls go out less while boys can roam around, lie and do everything they want.  I have also tested this myself I have tried speaking up and acting like my brother….he tends to get away with this rude behaviour and right when I do..I do not get away. Also if a girl wants to be a succesful/independent and do something on her own they do not let her. Girls living abroad do not understand why and life can become difficult. Since these girls are stuck in the middle…they have half the values of their parent’s country and half of the values of the country they grew up in. In Countries such as England, Canada, and USA ppl are treated the same and are taught to treat eachother equal. But some individuals families do not teach them this. Many men are treated better than women. I believe a change should come fourth somehow…even thogh many families are changing I believe more need to. Even in religions it is said everyone should be equal. We are all humans and should be treated like humans and not have labels. I know women can not be exactly like men but change in some areas such as favoritism of males over women should not occur. Also women should be able to freely express their thoughts being able to have a voice in situations.

  26. Anupreet Kaur says:

    Hi,
     
     I came across this page while surfing for sikh sites. I stay in India, and married to a “Gursikh Family”. Why i put it is quotes well everything what is happening in past 5 years is what probably guru has not taught us………
    The first instance of women not being equal came whne my mother in law scolded me and almost cried for two hours and did not speak to me for 4 days when my husband washed a glass in front of her. She told me men are not supposed to do this ……..men are very high and women are the ones who are low and have to live like that…….
    My in-laws do panj bani path but i failed to understand where in our religion it is stated that men shoudl be treated high and women low…….
    when i was preganant she kept insisting it shoudl be a boy as if it was in my hands…..:-) when i used to say what if it is a girl she use dto say you can have it later first give me a boy…….and they very proudly say girls are bad……without even a little remorse…..or acceptance that they should chnage the idea……
    I read the thoughts and realised that each day we experince this and still remain mum why? I keep asking that question myself…and only end up saying will not let my son be like them……..
    Guru Gobind Singhji had women warriors ………what happened to all that where have we lost it? I stay in India and keep hearing good sikh familes troubling their DIL for dowry or if they have borne a girl child……
    It is so painful i have gone thru it ……..
    Wish we could do somthing to change the thought process of such people…….

  27. Anupreet Kaur says:

    Hello,
    Wjkk wjkf!

    Just read the latest comments coming from people such as Anupreet ji and also Amrita ji. And whilst what i have read is very upseting its also nothing new.

    Its a very common story.. and one that must change. There is no time for discrimination and such weakness within the sikh community when we as sikhs are already having to deal with huge outside threats.

    I think all it takes is one woman per community to stand up and go against the odds….Women should have a voice in decision making…women should be brave enough and strong enough to stand up for themselves and make themselves heard! And the families of such independent women should be beaming with pride that their daughters have been blessed with such courage and determination.

    Thats all it comes down to. Mindset… its clear to me some people think that by doing 5 banis a day every day is enough to make you a sikh…..its one thing doing a bani and its annother thing to understand it!

    Bani wasnt given to us to sit there and memorise and recite like robots… it was given to understand and enterpret so we as sikhs can become better human beings.

    Having a baby girl is a blessing…having a baby boy is also an equal blessing….and these cultural influences that treat girls like low lifes has to stop

    If there are no girls……….how are the next generation going to come into being!?!

    Look at the banis of Guru Nanak Dev ji ……. “why revile women when it is she who gives birth to kings?”

    Anupreet ji and Amrita ji….dont loose hope! dont let the pressures of your families surpress your own self esteem…..be strong within yourself! And i suppose all any woman in your situation can do is teach their daughters to be independednt and their sons to be respectfull.

    wjkk wjkf
    pul chuk maaf

  28. Raymon Kaur says:

    I found your webpage after a couple of male close family members who are Amritdhari’s comment on why women are not allowed to do certain things within the Gurudwara and even tried to justify this clear inequality in the treatment of Sikh Amritdhari women.

    I was so troubled by this to tears because I truly believe that Sikhi is about gender equality. They were saying things like ‘men and women have their place’ and ‘women have no place dealing with the monetary situations and even doing sewa (forgive me for I don’t know the proper term for this) reading from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

    I was trying to discuss with one of them a few days earlier that women are just as capable and saying women have their place is just another way of saying that they are not worthy of doing Sewa which the men dominantly perform.

    I have to tell you that I was so shaken by what i was hearing that I found it hard to converse with them after this. My heart was broken.

    But I, today was searching the internet for someone to speak sense, and tell the unbiased truth, that women are seen as equal within the Sikh religion (even though this is rarey put to practice) and primarily by Waheguru and I found your webpage and my heart has lifted! Thank you.

    I will be roaming around your site for more info, Thank you again. I now have a feeling that I am deemed important and of worth to Waheguru. This is what matters.

  29. Taranjit Kaur says:

    I think the Sikh religion is fading away, however the PUnjabi culture still remains. Two different things. I am a Sikh woman myself not married yet, I have a brother who is 21 years old and I am 6 years older than him, but he behaves like he is 6 years older than me, not because this is allowed, thats how he behaves. He thinks he can swear but when I swear to him or at a situation he says don’t swear infront of me in a quite yet aggressive way. He is more stricter on what clothes I wear than my parents are. I am doing a PhD on Honour and Shame in SIkh communities and violence, he thinks its crap, they like the idea of PHD, but the subject will just have to do…they have little choice.  He talks about my marriage more than my parents, that I need to sort it out. You may think this issue has nothing to do with Sikhism, but it has everything to do with gender equality and I am a Sikh woman. People ask me what you doing your phd in, I don’t know how to say it… because they throw a million questions at your face such as what can you do with that subject.

  30. Singhani says:

    HI there……
    gender inequality in sikhism is total unacceptable …
    living in a domestic violence situation for any women and children is highly devastating

    please consider the following scenrio…

    i was born in ‘gursikh’ family and have a twin brother and little sister..
    for almost two decades… there has been constant violence (physical and emotional) against my mother, me and my younger sister and fovourtism towards my brother
    being twins means to my father that i am ‘responsible’ for my brothers education, and other so called responsiblities. after completion  of year 12.. (which was really tough as i had to study and take reaponsiblity of my brothers studies as he did EXACTLY the same units and hear out the abuse you had recieve if my borther didn’t socre to his exceptations.. it was as it was my fualt)… ‘didn’t support him properly’.. however it wasn’t that bad then cause he also was trying to an extent and it was less duanting’… but by waheguru’s blessing scored greatly…
    although i understand that families should be supportative and help each other out.. but where do you draw the line????? ‘God helps those help themselves’

    anyways staying on …. we started uni and it has been equally tough as now doing the same degree and same units.. my brother no longer is motivated to acheive and therefore it is so tough to do 4 + 4 units..
     
    whenever i tried to raise this issue at home i find it really be/c my mother is powerless and the threats and abuse you recieve are just unbearable…
    therefore 4 months ago i was forced to move out of home… but ended up coming back after making an so called ‘ agreement’ … however, as i was sucessfully manupulated .. the abuse continues and has been tougher be/c everytime you try and stand up yourself ,… you are told to be an obdediant daughter.. although i must say the physical abuse has stopped to an extent .. but if your not a obidient daughter you get the threats and abuse.. so the cycle continues….

    i was hoping to move out again.. but am scared of the safety of my mother and younger sister…. as anyone abusive will not look at their own actions but to torture those around them…. i know the guru has told us to stand up for ourselves and fight against this but ……. realistically how many people support a family in a foreign country in a situation like this….
    i mentioned it to my friend that i was forced to move out home… and the response from her was very uupseting as she thought i was really bad person…. and a shame to the family..
    sometimes it seems so hard to believe that sikhism was the first religion to convey the importance of gender equality but in our RELIGION it does not seem to show… WHY????

    for example… my mum has been totured physically, emotionally and verbally but will not stand up to this abuse be/c she is scared but more so be/c the awarness is not out there and acceptance continues
    i know what the right thing to do is… STAND UP AND VIOCE AGAINST THIS… but being a daughter, sister…. it can be really tough as i have NO SUPPORT from my family (my mum cannot do anything)..
    i would love to hear from others and maybe put forward a few suggestions on what would be the best thing to do… STAY OR GO>>…
    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

  31. Raymon Kaur says:

    Singhani, I am in a very similar situation which has by the grace of Waheguru…now dissipated.

    I feel I should tell you this.

    Sikhi is full of the strongest of strong women that exist on this Earth. Show your father and the rest of your family that you are one of them. That you are born from a STRONG mother.

    I let my father know that I am just as strong as he is, and just as powerful as my own mother. He knows that I don’t take any of his B.S. and that I am a STRONG, BEAUTIFUL, SIKH WOMAN WHO IS JUST AS POWERFUL IN SPIRIT AS MY FATHER SEEMS TO SHOW. Please don’t mistake my comments, my father did and said many terrible things.

    The passion he shows in anger, you show your father in defiance. I don’t mean in physical actions. You are descended from the strongest Sikh women that stepped foot on this Earth. Show him that you are one of them. Leave home if you have the means to do so. Show him that you will be responsible for your own success just as your brother should be of his.

    Sikh women are not obedient women! No one is your Boss…Waheguru is your Boss, your protector and your father. Nobody in this world can touch you or make you feel you are nothing.
    We are women. We are in Gursikh family. We are special. Respect your parents, love your parents, but do not allow them to strip you of your identity.
    Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Wheguru Ji ki Fateh!

  32. Singhani says:

    hi Raymon Kaurthank you … for your feedback.. i shall also take this on board…  thx thats really great adviceu are very right …. no one can say that women are inferior or of a lower status to men….. it does not exist and should never exist….we should all remember the shabed by Guru Nanak Dev ji.. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born….although i have been living in Australia most of my life… i have the values of a sikh but could never work out where violence fitted in…. AND KNOW I KNOW IT IS WRONG TO ACCEPT i know its a growing issue and most of the time it’s just psychological be/c its just fused into peoples heads that having a daughter is just ‘bad luck’.. which is total B.S. i think one of the main issues is dowry…. thats why there is famale infanticide.. even though GURU RAM DAS JI said

    Any other dowry, which the self – willed manmukhs offer for show, is only false egotism and a worthless display. O my father, please give me the gift of the name of the LORD as my wedding gift and dowry G.G.S.,p.79
     i probably will move out ….. and it would be great to raise an awarness of these practicses…. its not just the job of a single person, but that of a whole community to stand together and voice this..p.s. i read ur response …. i would agree 100% – discrimination does not exist and it cannot be bought into any concept what soever….. SO STAND UP…. MAYBE DO IT AS A GROUP… but keep fighting… sewa is not only for men but also for women…. remind them of the shabed of Guru Nanak Dev Ji

  33. Mankawal Kaur says:

    WJKK WJKF

    Just recently, a  Sikh girl moved out of home be/c it was tough for her to live among the abuse her father tormented on her, it was physical/ verbal/ emotional and psychological .. i knew that family. Outwardly, it never seemed to me that there was so much trouble and there ever existed a case of domestic violence and child abuse. but i must say .. that the girl was always very quiet and she was also shy.  one of the very symptoms of abuse. it was as though she was crying from the inside….

    It was tough for her be/c her mother was abused (physically, verbally…) for over 2 decads and as being a daughter it just kind of carried forward. And now she also witnessed the same abuse towards her younger sister.. but to a lesser extent. However i was amazed on the preferential treatment her brother was receiving .. it was kind of like she was there to be used, told what to do and then thrown away..

    I was very confused on what advice to give her, be/c i understood the terrible pain she had to endure and will continue to endure in the coming years but be/c her mother and little sister were still living there .. she was VERY MUCH scared for their safety.
    i also knew that SIKHI does not support the discrimination of a single gender as mentioned by Gurmustuk Singh Ji.. in the shabed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji

    She is now staying with some friends at college be/c there is no family here (New Zealand) but continues to fear for the safety of her mother and younger sister..

    HER FATHER HAS GIVEN HER TWO OPTIONS:

    STAY AT UNI.. AND BE DISCLUDED FROM THE FAMILY AND LOSE CONTACT WITH THE FAMILY MEMBERS
    OR COME BACK HOME

    therefore, she decided to move back home after a short agreemnet. However, the abuse has not lifted… although it is not so much physical it is still psychological/ verbal and emotional…

    She now wishes to move out again ..

    i was close friends with her, and have not judged her for so called ‘running away’… i donot know how to advice her but surprisingly many people feel that it is shameful to stand up for ur safety and wellbeing and ur a disgrace to the family in moving out, And u have no right to call urself a sikh..

    AND WHICH I WOULD LIKE TO PUT TO QUESTION.. WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE?

    HOW WOULD YOU DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN A DIFFICULT MARRIAGE AND ABUSIVE MARRIAGE?
     
    DO NOT THE YOUNGER WOMEN OF THIS MODERN GENERATION HAVE THE RIGHT TO STAND UP AND FIGHT –

    and where is the support?

    PLEASEEE DO PROVIDE FEEDBACK… it will be greatly apprepriciated

    WJKK WJKF

  34. Dearnice says:

    Hi!
    I’m not sikh but I fell in love someone whose religion is sikh. I know there will be no future for us because he can’t marry me. His parents wants him a punjabi girl. We love each other and on my part I’m willing to give up everything just to be with him. He told he gave his words to his parents already and he will accept whatever his parents decision. I deeply felt his love to me is pure and true but it is sad that we can’t be together. What will happen in case he broke his promise to his parents and he will go with me?

  35. Sarbjit says:

    Sat Naam.

    I agree that we have a long way to put gender equality into practice. Great web page. I am actually about to start and MA about women and Sikhism and their role as I have also noticed the inequality ever since I was young.
    Thanks for the blog. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ke Fatheh.

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