For ages, we have seen women in India referring their husbands as “ae ji; shono; XYZ ke papa” and the like in as many regional languages as you can think of or know. As much as many find such ways of addressing their spouse adorable, the custom is actually deeply rooted in patriarchy.
It might seem hunky-dory in movies or popular culture, but the fact that women are not allowed to take the name of their male partner smacks of the unequality in an Indian marriage, where the woman isn’t even ‘deserving’ to call her husband by his name, while the same restriction doesn’t apply to the man.
So, in an attempt to break the stereotype and establish a more equal equation with their husbands, women in Maharashtra are practising calling their husband by their first name in a club. “If we can’t say our husbands’ names, and they can call us whatever they like, does that mean they don’t respect us? Shouldn’t it be equal?” Rohini Pawar, a woman rights activist asks the pertinent question to the women of Walhe village in Pune.
Though it’s not easy for most of them, and the discomfort is evident, they do manage to say the name, amid gasps, smiles and taunts.