In the Hindu religion for example, the man is accorded the status of a divine Lordship. For the wife, he is supposed to be a “god”. Deification is one Hinduism’s characteristic features. If the husband is not like Narayan, the universal Preserver of creation, then at least, the husband could be like Shiva, the Destroyer, whose excesses are often overlooked because of his status of one of the most powerful forces of universe.
Societal perception about single women, or women whose husbands have left does nothing to help too; a single woman in the Hindu society automatically faces a lot of discrimination and harassment even in the hands of her neighbours Things have somewhat changed in the urban and more educated milieu, but for the majority, the breakup of a household and divorce is still more or less a taboo, or at least something which should be avoided at all costs; to risk physical violence and endless verbal abuse becomes the part and parcel of their daily existence. Indeed, in the Hindu world, to be born as a woman is in itself a curse, and many women know that how their parents had hoped for a son and heir rather than a burden who needs to be looked after and married off with considerable dowry rather than bringing in the fruits of his labour for the parents from an early age or when they are old and wanting. Also ingrained in women rather than men is the concept of a being ever faithful to one man, their husband forever. It is not only a virtue to remain a virgin and present it to the man who “takes” her as a husband, but it is a sin for her to take any pleasure in sex at all, and be totally faithful to that one man for all her life. As for the men, men will be men! They might just have many other sexual partners, they might have been married before, they might be well known womanizer for none of these are ever condemned by Hindu religion. No one speaks out against issues with a man’s character, but for a woman, her character is always under scrutiny, always in suspect. In fact most Hindu male gods are polygamists and playboys. Krishna, the incarnation of Narayan had a long affair with Radha whom he for some mysterious reason never married.
Most kings in the past were also polygamists. Even as late as the 19th century and early 20th, many men were polygamist, mainly in the upper castes, or those who were privileged land-owners. The “kulin” Brahmins and Kayasthas, castes of privileged priest and courtiers used to have numerous wives in different villages more often than not. The practice seems to have been owing to the fact that people were eager to get their daughters married off as soon as possible and in those days women were usually married off at a very young age, almost as soon as they reached puberty.
The absence of marriageable men does not seem to me the problem at all but rather the demand of a hefty dowry was the chief cause of this practice. It was considered a social taboo to have in their family marriageable daughters, girls of more than ten or so, still not married. To marry them off, parents had to part with a hefty sum of money and other forms of wealth. So bad was it that the family in question could face ostracism if they supported an unmarried daughter for too long. Some poorer people happily married their daughters off to those travelling Brahmins, some already at an age when they were becoming senile, and who could well be their grandfather’s age! One can easily conjecture from this that poorer families who could not marry their daughters off early enough probably found an escape route by marrying them to an old fogey. Although these things do not happen in this age, many people secretly harbour a negative attitude towards women, and some shockingly even express those views among friends and family without being looked upon as someone with dangerous ideas or sick mind. All this has been common knowledge for years, and so is the violence against women in its various forms. But somehow people do not want to acknowledge the fact except by either saying it’s very rare these days (violence) or they are not involved..