What if women were treated like cows in India?

Vichitra Amarnathan
Vichitra AmarnathanJul 01, 2017 | 10:55

What if women were treated like cows in India?

Ever since the gau rakshaks took to mob lynching in the name of protecting cows, a question that's been raised repeatedly on social media is - "Are women less important than cows?", or "Why is harassment or rape a smaller issue than beef?"

Taking this one step further, artist and feminist, Sujatro Ghosh encouraged women to wear cow masks as a form of protest and recently released a series of photographs of women donning cow masks in different settings.


It is indeed ironical that one can be punished with life imprisonment in India for killing a cow and some are even pushing for capital punishment while the punishment for raping a woman may range from 7 years to 20 years rigorous imprisonment depending on the gravity of the case. When it comes to conviction rates and the delays in passing judgment, the less said the better.

Let's go with the "powerful" statement that Ghosh has made, and for a moment assume that cows are indeed better off than women in India. What would life be like then? Here's what you would go through if you were a cow in India.

You would be separated from your mother within 24 hours of birth

Almost always (97 per cent of the cases), calves are separated from the cow soon after birth so that the milk meant for the calf can be accessed. Thankfully, in our hypothetical case you are not a male calf. Had you been one, you would end up as veal. If you're a female calf, your future is doomed (I'll shortly come to why). You will be raised on milk replacement and reared to be a milch cow.


You will be tied to a post all day

You will spend the whole of your short life tied to a post with a rope that is about a couple of feet long (if you are lucky). You should be grazing on meadows, but you will be foraging for food in dumpsters and garbage if you are lucky enough to get to move about. You will eat scraps and occasionally even plastic. You will be that hungry and emaciated.

At a young age, you will be tied to the rape stand

That's right, it's called a rape stand and it is called that for a reason. This is where you will have a vet (who manually or mechanically jerks off a bull to get semen) thrust his hands up your anus and positions your uterus just right to forcibly inseminate you and this will be done over and over again. Conviction rates for this sort of rape will be zero per cent. You will be perpetually pregnant and you will never get to care for your children. And you thought you should protest about sexism and double standards by comparing yourself with this being!


You will be injected with hormones to make sure you produce copious amounts of milk not natural to your body

As an average milch cow, you will now produce four times the amount of milk your body is designed to produce because you are injected with hormones and drugs. You will either be manually milked or hooked to milking machines three to four times a day. This may leave you bleeding from your udders and in severe pain because you are highly likely to have mastitis. And you will go through this year after year after year.

[Photo: Suchitro Ghosh]

You will die young

I couldn't make up my mind on this one. Is this a bad thing or a good thing? Ideally, as a cow you should have a life span of 15 to 20 years but given that you are raped so frequently to keep you pregnant and are treated essentially as an object, you'd think dying early is better.

As luck would have it, you are considered useless by the age of five because your body is ravished and worn from being impregnated so many times, all the drugs, and the milking. Now that you are considered useless, you will be sent for slaughter.

If anything, as a feminist, I am appalled at how cows are treated not just in this country but across the world. Cows are objectified and enslaved because their bodies can make milk. And no, none of the gau rakshaks care about the well-being of the cow. This is a completely politically motivated movement that has nothing to do with animal welfare. If they really cared about cows, India wouldn't be the largest producer of milk and leather.

So aside from creative license and artistic sensibilities, Ghosh, I'm afraid is anything, but a feminist. If he had to so much as spend one day as a cow, he would know why feminists, in particular, cannot support the dairy industry and why cows have the worst of it.

And comparing women's safety to cow vigilantism is as good as saying that we should have mob lynching of rapists. Would that be ok? To take the law into your hands and apply mob rule is ridiculous no matter what the crime.

In the end, the argument of "are women lesser than cows" just makes for a cheeky comeback. Nothing more.

Last updated: July 01, 2017 | 10:55
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