Cook for husband before you enter labour: Seoul’s advice to pregnant women is return of slavery

The Seoul city government is telling women to use a hairband after delivering a baby to not look dishevelled.

 |  4-minute read |   14-01-2021
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Through the nausea, the puking, the leg or calf pain, the vaginal discharges, the burning sensation during urinating, through the body bloating, and then even through labour, a pregnant woman must not forget that while producing the child is her responsibility, ensuring the husband is fed and the house cleaned, is Responsibility No 1. Producing the child is not Responsibility No 2. It is also Responsibility No 1.

The expectation from women is the expectation masters had from their slaves. Slaves should be able to work 48 hours a day. Slavery was outlawed. In South Korea’s Seoul, misogyny is being institutionalised.

pregnancy-690_011421102048.jpg(Photo: Reuters)

This reminder to what a pregnant woman must do to ensure the husband is not inconvenienced during her pregnancy (not theirs) has come from the Seoul city government. Had it come from one politician or a random person of repute, it could have been dismissed as just that – an individual’s misogyny. But Seoul is offering misogyny institutionalised and posted on its website. The post includes tips for expectant mothers. At no stage should pregnant women avoid house work because that may lead to weight gain.

Unmindful of the hormonal, emotional and physical turmoil can throw a woman into, Seoul’s government is worried sick over weight gain and has come up with a way to avoid it. It has told women to hang their pre-pregnancy clothes where they are easy to spot as constant motivation to ‘get back in shape’.

The government has also advised women to stock the refrigerator properly so that when they are away delivering their children, the husband at home has food to eat. No much though. Just three to four meals of curry and soup because by the time the husband finishes it, the pregnant woman would be back home, no longer pregnant, albeit with a child. She can start cooking again apart from taking care of the child and her own body which has been through nine months of drastic changes. The only change she should care about is to be able to change into the pre-pregnancy clothes hanging there inspirationally.

The advisory also suggests women buy a hairband so that they do not look dishevelled after having the baby. The husband needs a pretty sight apart from hot food and a clean house. 2021, is it? Well, Seoul might argue that the guidelines are from 2019 and went viral only recently, but 2019 isn't exactly the Middle Ages, last we checked.

The best joke is yet to come. According to the Korea Herald, the ‘guidelines’ were overseen by the Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology before being posted.

A South Korean court recently ordered Japan to pay 12 South Korean women who were forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II a compensation of USD 91,360 each. But this everyday slavery, which reduces women to child-popping machines equipped to handle multiple tasks before, after and during child-popping, is being encouraged.

Birthing is perhaps the most difficult experience a human body undergoes but masters never cared about what the slaves underwent. They were slaves, they were supposed to undergo hardships, even those so hard that they proved fatal.

Many women in India will tell you that they were working till they went into labour. Doctors do advise remaining active helps during pregnancies. Pregnancy, after all, is not a disease. And yet it is true that thousands of women die during childbirth because they did not get the care a pregnant women is due for. According to a 2018 United Nations global estimate, 303,000 women a year die in childbirth, or as a result of complications arising from pregnancy.

This translates into 830 women dying each day – one every two minutes. India and Nigeria account for one-third of these deaths. Most of these deaths are preventable. To India’s credit, it had reduced maternal mortality by 77% from 556 per 1,00,000 live births in 1990 to 130 per 1,00,000 live births in 2016. Awareness campaigns, government intervention, rising incomes have helped turn the tide.

The maternal mortality rate cannot capture whether fewer women dying during childbirth means women have greater rights. After all, you have to keep women alive to come back home and clean the dishes the husband was eating in while women were away producing children.

In South Korea, the maternal mortality is 11 per 100,000 live births. Korea has undergone a rapid transformation from an agrarian society, through industrial modernisation, to its current place in the information age. South Korea is a developed nation and yet its development has left women behind in the dark ages of slavery.

Recently, Malaysia told its women to not nag during the lockdown because that would inconvenience their husbands. They were also told to look nice and proper while at home for the sake of her husband's mental well-being. Malaysia withdrew the 'suggestions' after protests. Seoul followed suit by re-wording the guidelines but not convincingly. But women will continue to be expected to be AI-powered machines that will do all tasks assigned and never let even a whimper disturb the peace of the house. 

There is a whole world of difference between expectations and reality. The reality is rebellion too is rising. Womb protests are rising all over the world where women are refusing to enter into marriages or have children even if they marry. And that is happening because the days of slavery are long over. Maybe Seoul missed the memo.

Also Read: How India's restaurant industry can bounce back after the Covid crash



Vandana Vandana @vsinghhere

Author is Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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