Can you imagine Sati system still prevailing in our society? With many movements around the world, people have successfully changed many norms and customs that used to act as an instrument to oppress women. The transition of the societies have been gradual and rocky. Right from winning the voting rights to asking for a same gender marriage, societies around the world are paving their ways to a better road. But there are still a few cultures who follow their same old traditions and some of them might definitely leave you in horror and chills.
- Coils for Slender necks.
How high are you willing to go for a slender neck? No, we are not asking for your budget with the surgeon but the rings that you might have to bear. Women of Ethnic Kayan community of Myanmar and Thailand has to go through brutal pain in order to have slender necks that are considered to be the sign of grace and beauty in their culture. This tradition is centuries old and is inculcated in the girls as they turn five. These girls are made to wear shiny brass coils and the number of the coils increases with the age. An adult woman bears about 20 to 25 coils around their neck. While they believe that it elongates their neck, the coil only pushes down the ribs and collarbone due to which they have deformities. These women are only allowed to remove this 10 kilos of rings on their wedding night and the removal process is quite painful and long.
- A Sexual Cleansing for Widows
You might have heard about spiritual cleansing or palate cleansing but a sexual cleansing will definitely take you by on an awful surprise. In certain parts of Tanzania and Kenya, widows are to go through a process of ‘sexual cleansing’ in which they have to have sex with their brother-in-law, in order to pacify and exorcise the spirit of their dead husband. If a widow refuses to do so, she is forced to move out of her matrimonial home with no right on her husband’s inheritance and livestock. They consider the sperms to be a cleanser with the power to purify the widow’s body and soul.
- Ingesting Vomit!
The title itself might have given you a gag reflex but it is a reality for many living in a country in Africa called Mauritania. During the school holidays, from the age of six, the girls are sent to a ‘Fattening Camp’ where they are force fed a diet which is very high on calorie with at least two kilograms of millet, 20 liters of milk and two cups of butter, intaking about 16000 calories in one single day. Girls who refuse to eat all are punished and also made consume their own vomit. This practice of force feeding is called gavage or ‘leblouh’ and has been in existence for about centuries now and is followed to make these girls fetch a perfect match for matrimony. It can be due to the reason that the country is drought prone and an obese woman is celebrated and chosen over slim women.
- Devadasis: The servants of God
Despite being outlawed, the tradition of offering young girls as celibates that serves the deity and the temple still prevails in many parts of the Southern India. Devdasis, i.e., the servants of god or goddess are barred to marry any mortal while only dedicating their entire life in the service. Originally, they were the temple dancers who used to relish a high position and respect. Over the time, this practice has become more like a ritualized prostitution where the virginity of the girls are auctioned off.
- Having a LipDisc
A tradition that started to keep the women of Mursi and Surma tribes of Ethiopia away from the slave traders, bearing a large disc on their lips, it is now considered to be an beauty enhancement. It involves the process of cutting open a lip, removing two or three teeth from the lower jaw (depending upon the disc size) and a small disc is inserted in the lower cut hole. When the cut healed, the small disc is replaced with a larger one. The girl receives dowry based on the size of the disc. Larger the disc, bigger the dowry.
- Get your breasts straight!
Because breasts gather unwanted attention so what is the best thing to do when you cannot cut them off? Tada, the mothers of Camroon and many such African countries found an alternative, Breast Ironing! Yes, as grueling as it sounds, it is an extremely painful and terrifying process that is carried out to delay early age pregnancies as bigger breasts attract more attention. This practice has caused very awful after-effects of cysts, inverted nipples and deformed breasts. Some have damaged their breasts to an extent that they cannot breastfeed their newborns.
- Controlling a woman’s libido through Genital Mutilation
As the womanhood starts approaching, women from parts of Africa, Middle East and Asia go through a process of Genital Mutilation, in which the external Genitals are cut off or circumcised in unhygienic conditions, using stones, razors or knives that too without anesthesia. Some communities also have a procedure to conduct a partial enclosement of the Genitals with only a small outlet for the urine and menstrual flow to come out.
- Amputating fingers to mourn over deaths
Among the people of Dani tribe of Papua, Indonesia, they have a tradition of amputating fingers while grieving on the death of their family members. This tradition was only to be followed by the women of that tribe. They believe that death is a permanent loss so the grieving should also be more permanent than emotional. This practice has now been banned but still you can find elderly women of the community with chopped off finger tips.
- Move to cattle sheds when you are menstruating
Considering to be impure while menstruating, women in parts of Nepal are asked to move to the cattle sheds and sleep there among the cows and the buffaloes. This practice is known as ‘Chhaupadi’ which has been ruled illegal but yet is largely observed. This practice does not allow women to touch anything in the house and those who touch them has to undergo a ritual that will help purify themselves.