Duggar Women’s Familial Exclusion Due to Socio-Cultural Rituals: An Overview

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Ms. Diksha Bhagat, Prof. Anupama Vohra


Exclusion a widely acclaimed term is explained by World Health Organization (WHO) as “a state in which individuals are unable to participate fully in economic, social, political and cultural life, as well as the process leading to and sustaining such a state” (United Nations, 2016, p. 18). Social exclusion excludes a person or even a group from enjoying basic rights reserved for human beings, which leads to their deprivation and impoverishment. It checks the participation of an individual in various social, political, economic and cultural spheres resulting in their exclusion and alienation from the mainstream. Women across cultures are treated as the ‘other’ and being addressed as members of ‘the second sex’ are excluded and alienated from the mainstream which curtails their right to freely participate and act, and mars their prospect of proper functioning as an individual, thereby resulting in their exclusion. Their freedom is constantly curtailed and kept under check on the basis of various norms and rituals that are specifically designed by patriarchy to ensure their social exclusion: “...her wings are cut and then she is blamed for not knowing how to fly” (Beauvoir, 2011, p. 660). Their body is used as a tool to subordinate, subjugate and exclude them as it is targeted impure and inferior to men. Further, instead of acknowledging the biological differences between the bodies of men and women, a woman’s body and bodily processes like menstruation is treated as a “curse” (Beauvoir, 2011, p. 62) rather than a blessing which supports life process: “The menstruating woman spoils harvests, devastates gardens, kills seeds, makes fruit fall, kills bees; if she touches the wine, it turns to vinegar; milk sours …” (p. 202). The present paper attempts to unravel diverse forms of familial exclusion that Duggar women face due to rituals, cultural practicesand their female body as a site of impurity.

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