I wrote a piece about the unfortunate harassment and exploitation, “army wives” face as a result of the structure of the organisation. That piece got a lot of attention, and a lot of people asked what we can do to make it better. This is what you can do.
Written by Aarushi Ahluwalia.
I wrote a piece about the Indian Army. More specifically, I wrote a piece about how women who are married to army officers and men are treated by the army, and how our labour is exploited in the interest of service to the organisation through arbitrary hierarchies and AWWA. I am not sure what caused it but the post blew up, I had over 20,000 views on my website on that one post alone. I don’t normally write follow-up posts, but I am writing this for one reason only, I called for action, and it would be rather useless to do so if I didn’t offer constructive solutions, and so I will do so in detail.
Before I do that, I want to thank all the women (and of course, the men) who have reached out to me to share their own stories, offer their support and validate my feelings. The ones who felt the need to apologise for not being able to support me publically, please don’t, if I didn’t understand how noxious this mire of promotions, ACRs and social backlash can be, i wouldn’t have needed to write that post. I stand for you today because I am able to do so, and you can stand for me someday when you are able to do so, and even if you are not, it doesn’t matter, we’re on the same team and we all fight in different ways. To all the men (and it was mostly men) who felt the need to attack me whether that was here, on Instagram, on Facebook or Twitter, thank you. Honestly, i wouldn’t have any content without you guys. I would encourage you, though, to take a moment and wonder exactly where you get the confidence to invalidate a woman’s life experience when you have exactly no experience at being a woman. Have you found it? That’s called male privilege. To the people who pointed out to me that while it is good to raise problems, i should also offer solutions, you are right, and I am here to do exactly that. To the people on WhatsApp groups, bitching at me and saying the kind of dirty, disgusting things you pretend you’re all above (yeah, people did send me those screenshots, oops), be better than this. Seriously, if something has the potential to make you feel sick at yourself a year later, don’t do it today, don’t sully your soul, that muck doesn’t wash off so easy.
Please understand that the intention behind sharing stories, especially personal narratives, is to bring to the fore issues that are silently faced by thousands, if not lakhs of people. I stand by everything I wrote, and every single thing I wrote was the truth too, and believe me, the stories I shared were tame compared to the true details because the point was not shock value, it was to draw attention to issues. If I were going for shock value, those stories would have been a lot more shocking.
Now, as i promised, because many people, and some of them rather accusatory, asked me to share my “great” ideas on how to do things better. I have no great ideas, no pompous ideological speeches, no whataboutism, I don’t have your tools, but I do have concrete, everyday suggestions on what you can do to make the lives of women, specifically those married to army officers, better. You can take them if you like, and you can ignore them if you prefer, but if you do actually agree that there is a problem, this is how you start to fix it.
- I understand that referring to women as ma’am may be part of your culture, and honestly, it’s fine. It’s fine if you actually know and enquired my name. Don’t assume I am Mrs. Husband’s Name (not all women change their maiden names), don’t use ma’am as an excuse not to acknowledge me as a human being, don’t reduce my identity. That’s what it is about. It’s about identity. You may think who cares so much about a name, but the reduction of a woman’s identity to that of her husband or father is the beginning of a lifetime of reduction. Don’t participate in that. Does it hurt you to acknowledge a woman as a person and ask her what her name is? Does it hurt you to honour a woman’s request to be referred to by her name? It’s not exactly respectful to dishonour a person’s wishes to uphold your tradition. Where is the chivalry in that?
- Notice and challenge the unnecessary hierarchy amongst women on a daily basis. See, marrying an army person is not joining the army. We are not subject to its hierarchy, and an alternate hierarchy is ultimately always detrimental to the organisation. Don’t foster it. Women don’t need to refer to one another as ma’am, pander to one another or act within a hierarchy. It’s not our job here. It may be in our offices, but we get paid for that.
- If you must organise women’s events, stop using them to patronize or infantalize women. Believe me, from a Jawan’s wife to a Colonel’s wife, I’ve offered my ear to everyone who wanted to complain about welfare meets and rangoli-making, and almost everyone hates these events because they are problematic. Women don’t need to learn to make rangoli, if they want to do that, they’ll find a way to do it at home. If you want welfare, have seminars on women’s rights, women’s policy, world politics, job skills, freelancing opportunities, healthcare. If you can’t hire professionals to teach those things, post open calls amongst army circles for people who have the professional skill to VOLUNTEER to teach them. I would do it, I have done it in the past, and it went well too. This idea that women are only interested in colour, beauty, clothes and decoration is dated, let it go.
- Seriously, enough with the dress codes. We are adults. We know not to show up in pajamas at a dinner party. Imposing the saree culture on women is doing two horrible things: it’s making people hate sarees and it’s perpetuating a single-minded idea of beauty and femininity. We don’t need this. Women aren’t decor pieces. If they want to wear sarees, they will. If they don’t, why do they have to? Who does this really help?
- Also, enough with the jokes. I went to this super formal event last year, and as part of it, a man did a stand up bit. All the jokes were about wives and army wives and their inane priorities. When I asked the man who performed later why all his jokes were so sexist, he said: Why do women have to take everything so seriously? Well, because you won’t stop pushing us into a corner and then making fun of us for being in a corner. If you hate your wife, why are you married? If women’s interests are so benign to you, why are you so invested in controlling us? It’s not okay to sterotype and typecast women, we’re all different. Besides, punching down is frowned upon.
- It is not okay to threaten women and hold their husbands’ careers hostage to get them to behave how you want. You cannot even justify it, so instead we deny that this happens even though everybody knows. Just don’t do it. It’s a question of integrity, I cannot make you have it, but if you want to get on a high horse, get on a moral one.
- Stop passing orders to women through their husbands. If you want something from me, talk to me. I am not your employee, and nor am I an employee of my husband. Ask me for what you need, give me a choice, and if I am able to help, I certainly will. Anyone would.
- Stop assuming all women are free all the time. The truth is that no women are free. We’re all busy. If we’re not working, we’re running households, raising families and fostering communities. We’re not available to abandon that whenever it is expected. Ask. Just ask if people have the time to contribute in some way. You’ll be surprised at how many chores turn into pleasure when you have a choice in the matter.
- Encourage and understand childcare responsibilities that may fall on the fathers. Don’t assume all the work is for the mothers to do and disallow your employees from being good and available fathers when they are physically able to do so.
- Offer women drinks at parties. It’s not about alcohol, it’s about being acknowledged as having a choice. Agency is a big part of the feminist movement because the reduction of agency is where a woman’s crumbling autonomy begins.
- Don’t engage in malice against women. Be brave, shut it down, refuse to engage. When a woman’s character is being questioned in front you, shut it down. When lady bosses are being maligned, refuse to participate. Check your own biases. Refuse to gossip about this guy’s wife and that woman’s clothes. You are better than this. I have never faced gossip as malicious as I have in the army and almost all of it for marrying a divorced man and being a step-mom. Is this who we want to be? I hear the same people tell their daughters to achieve their goals and shoot for the stars, as they judge wives for being outspoken. Men assume I will just sleep with anyone and cheat on my husband because I smoke cigarettes and make jokes with dudes, is this who we want to be? Have the courage to stop it when a woman is being maligned right it front of you. Don’t participate.
- Open a channel of communication where people can come to you for help, no matter who you are. I value community more than anything in the world, which is why it is especially disheartening that the army which is designed to foster community is using it in such a dystopian fashion. I have made amazing connection through the army from jawans, to officers, to spouses, to the dogs being raised by the guards at every gate, and I was able to do this because i speak honestly and freely with people. They can come to me, and i will go to them, as a human being. I will help people, and I will listen to people, even when I don’t like them or when doing things for them will have no “benefit” for me. Help people, without the math of what the proper thing to do is. Watch people’s kids, help someone with a job application, tutor someone, talk to someone because they are worried about their family back home, invite those who live alone over so they feel like they have a support system, reach out to someone going through a divorce. All those wholesome things that the army loves to pretend they are about, do them. They are wonderful.
- If you are a woman, refuse to hate on other women. It’s a choice. Make it.
These are not structural solutions so the argument that they cannot be implemented because of red tape does not apply. These are things you can actually do, on a daily basis.
If you find that you often hear women who complain being referred to as problematic, and you are not sure why, read more about that phenomenon here.
41 thoughts on “So, how Do We Fix The Issues Army Wives Face?”
I Would like to tell you that I am an “Army Wife” and I can verify that whatever version you are saying is a glorified fairy tale. Let me tell you my experience.
I have been living outside your “lush green” Cantonment because Army cannot provide me with suitable accommodation.
My husband has been gone on a detachment and I am living on limited resources given the covid situation. NO ONE has bothered to ask me or my husband how I am doing.
My husband has to make multiple calls everyday to ask some one to send the ration we are paying out of his salary still I hardly get any ration sent to my home. (Ration is not “entitled” to anyone, a part of salary is deducted, if you understand the concept of CTC you might get that)
When we tell about this to seniors we are told-you are staying outside why not order online. We already do that but then where is the FAMILY here ? I guess real family won’t leave you out to dry in any situation.
This is not the only complaint I have, there are many. just giving an example of my daily life as a “Fauji Wife”
Sorry. This was supposed to a reply to the gentleman’s comments above
The army is a way of life. Everyone seems to have an opinion and you have one too. It’s not about civilians and military wives. Military wives world over marry into a way of life. A life that grows on you. Enjoys separations and field postings in remotest areas. Where sacrifices are made to priorities. It’s unbelievable – the transit turmoil. The military is also built on ethos. It’s a bond that families will be looked after when husbands are not in station and out in the front doing what they are paid for. Ask a lady staying in separated family quarters, she will tell you the truth of the secure environment she is provided. If she wasn’t, she wouldn’t have been staying there. We have, over the years, built respect for women, addressing a hierarchical structure for safety more than anything else. This is because our men are not from affluent backgrounds and are unlike western soldiers with underlying professions. They are from villages earning a livelihood. Indian society biases towards men.
Women have for long remained the nurturers of a home. These women come from villages. They start living in military cantonments, experience a different way of life. Facilities, organised activities etc. from the mundane life of looking after the family to being exposed to a better quality of life, far beyond her chulha. Here officers’ wives take pride in their husbands’ command, because the army respects them by making them inclusive. The lady gives these families of jawans, something to look up to and something to emulate. If the officer’s wife is conscious and focused, then the changes that she can incorporate and bring out are satisfying and beautiful.
The young lady who has written this article here, is free to voice her opinion, because that’s her perspective. No one ever tells you to leave your job and attend a function. Sometimes you are requested. But don’t you get requested at your organisation too? You make arrangements to go on leave don’t you? Or take a day off for the PTM, so how come you only have a problem only with this? You have all the liberty to say no. I have never ever come across the husband’s reports being spoilt because the wife didn’t behave. This is your guilt speaking and not the truth.
You live in beautiful and green army cantonments and enjoy privileges and facilities. You live in the house authorised to your husband. You often drive along in a vehicle which belongs to his regiment. You dine in the officer’s mess of which he is a member. You use CSD facilities at lower cost and with a separate line for officer’s families. You go on LTC, which is basically his right. Your kids’ study in army schools, you get education allowances. At dinner tables you serve yourself first. In different stations, you live in army guest rooms and are treated respectfully. When in trouble you don’t call a civilian, you call his Coursemate’s and his friends. If that’s not there you call your army neighbour. In the military hospital you have a separate day given for your indulgence. You use army gyms, army walking areas, people are even reading your article because you are an army wife. Makes you feel proud doesn’t it?
Madame please don’t equate yourselves with only ladies. Just remember the ENTIRE ARMY TREATS YOU LIKE ONE. We have our women always first no matter what the rank. Even a general stands up for the junior most officer’s wife. The general’s wife has seen more days in the service with her husband that’s why the wrinkles in her forehead or circles under her eyes. Through experience, patience, tolerance, but above all empathy for the families of the men who her husband commands.
When in battle if there is bad news, you are the one responsible and appointed to convey it. When there is a child born, you ensure the lady is looked after and happy. When someone is sick, you spend time by talking to people and making sure she gets the best of treatment. You also indulge in fun activities, because these ladies are at home looking after families 24×7. They need a break too.
Finally, your angst against the system is not justified. Family welfare at squadron or company level is completely by the squadron commander/ company commander’s wife. There is no senior lady present there. You are free to organise it at will and take charge and own it.
Once a quarter, a regiment family welfare takes place which is a mix of education, fun and eats. You stand up for your elder’s, don’t you? Or is that not your ethics? If you don’t then this message is going to be wasted. You serve the elder’s before you eat, don’t you? Or is that too not part of your culture.
The army or the military is different from the rest of the world only because of the uniqueness of the organisational working culture. Here women although not on the payroll, feel pride to assist. Let me also tell you, that you represent the very few ladies who feel this way. The majority love the life. Yes, there is scope for improvement, lots of positive refinement has already been done. But, to say you only fashion parade and dance, is wrong. It’s like saying, they played the music, and I didn’t dance, they mourned but I didn’t cry, they clapped but I didn’t perform. Everything comes together as a group, you plan, you decide, you enact and execute. Nothing in the army happens because of one person. So, if you feel strongly about something go forward and raise your doubts. Don’t be part of it. Trust me at the end of it, no one will say a word. But don’t be choosy, that your perception has to be followed completely, without argument and the others are all novices in event management. Everything is not about a job. Hope someday as you grow older you understand what it is to most of us … A WAY OF LIFE.
What you have written is just a glorious idea and utopian belief of what the organisation should actually stand for. Unfortunately, as an army officer’s wife myself, I can vouch and tell you that the level of mental harassment some senior officers’ wives put the younger lot through is just mind-boggling!! Added to that, is the actual fact that husband’s career and ACR is in fact being held at ransom based on his and his wife’s ability to please the senior’s wife. And then there are most of the ladies strutting about wearing their husbands’ ranks instead of their rings. It’s a reality and we need to accept it and make things more conducive. Open your eyes, wake up and acknowledge the reality!
Completely in support of you Arushi …hats off to you …keep up t good work
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Thank you 🙂
I have few suggestions to make:
1. Upgrade the organizational and structural hierarchies… employ HR managers in Army who take it up as job to do ” internal field force engagement ” and community programs.
2. Let their be free lancers – wives who are interested to take up voluntary tasks in AWWA or any other welfare activities.
3. Bring in Subject Matter Experts( SMEs) to deliver lectures, rather than making Mrs XYZ speak on issues just by the virtue of being some senior officer’s wives.
4. Husband and wife are not separate entities ( atleast socially in Army fraternity), hence I believe the exposure needs to be given to the men as well.
Will keep adding to this list as I get more ideas.
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and yeah missed to mention the punch line !
” Learn to say NO”
and ” No means NO “
Ma’am (I call you so out of respect and not due to some sham tradition),
As I read your articles, each word felt as if it were echoing my own thoughts.
IMHO, AWWA/AFWWA/NWWA/DWWA etc need to shut down immediately. These “welfare” organizations do everything other than actual “welfare”. High time a real VOLUNTARY organization took its place.
As you said most, almost everyone hates to attend these “events”, Imagine the frustration when being ordered to organize one, let alone the whims and fancies of it.
Holding people’s career; mind you a great many joined the services in true spirit; hostage to impose your haughtiness and even shamelessly denying it is an open secret.
As for as sexual harassment you mentioned, the man inside the uniform comes from the same society as others. The holier-than-thou attitude is our greatest facade.
I could go on but as you rightly said, noone can question because siache……………….
Loved reading your pieces though. Like a breath of fresh air to say the least.
Loved “in war you get hurt…” part. Wish more of us had this attitude.
And a nice idea btw, I wouldn’t mind being called a *my wife’s profession* husband.
P.S. My best to you and your husband (I guess he’s a brave kind too), for neither you seen to have been subjugated nor does he seem to have tried to). Godspeed.
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I agree and support most of your suggestions and have started following also many of these from past few years. But trust me handling and trying to solve any issue one dimensionally might burry one problem but it will led to emergence of others. You might be able to cut a branch of poisonous tree but the root will remain and will lead to a new branch in some other direction.
COMPLETE & SUSTAINED EFFORT TO ERADICATE COLONIAL CONCIOUSNESS THRUST INSIDE US OVER PAST FEW DECADES IS THE ONLY VIABLE AND LONG LASTING SOLUTION.
No foreign concept can bring permanent solution to problems in this land , be it
Communism, Secularism, Socialism, feminism, LGBTQ etc etc. As I have mentioned in your another article that , best possible way fwd for us to eradicate these class problems ( Gender, caste , region , language etc ) is only in getting back to our INDIC ROUTES and completely decluttering ourselves from the shackles of COLONIAL MINDSET AND CONCIOUSNESS that BRITS have successfully ingrained in us, as successfully initiated by Lord Macaulay.
I can personally vouch for it ( admission) , that uptill few years back I was also a part of all the problematic aspects that you brought out and I don’t used to realise it back then. Probably few years back I would have criticized you the same way as many others were. But it’s only after getting closer to INDIC ways of discourse, thought process and life I ( and probably others also) observe this change. Today when I look back and try and analyze why I was in that way or many others are or were in this org, other institutions and society in general. The biggest factor I analyzed is THE SUCCESSFULL ALIEANATION OF US AS SOCIETY, ORG, INSTITUTIONS, MEN, WOMEN , OUR KIDS FROM BASIC ETHOS OF OUR ROOTS & TURNING US INTO BRITS IN EVERY PRACTICAL ASPECTS LESS OUR SKIN COLOR AND PROBABLY MINISCULE PORTIONS OF OUR DAY TO DAY LIVES.
Post correcting few problematic aspects of our ancient discourse, we need to get back to our great tradition of debate , discuss, SHASTRARTHS and act based on those.
No one can guarantees an ideal world but Our INDIC discourse and solutions have best remedy for our all existing problems in institutions and Society.
But first we need to stop acting like what Lord Macaulay aimed once ” WE WANT TO PRODUCE A CLASS OF INDIANS , WHO WILL LOOK INDIANS BUT THEY WILL EAT, THINK AND SPEAK LIKE BRITS”.
A fellow countrymen of yours.
Will be looking forward to work with you and all our fellow countrymen for overall betterment.
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Still awaiting your views , in order to have a meaningful discussion for our mid course correction as a country and institution.
Your fellow countrymen
Professional Armies have a fighting culture. Indian Army’s ethos, traditions or social culture is hardly British. Neither is it imposed. It’s intrinsic to the organisation that’s been in existence for over 300 y. What’s INDIC or BRITISH got to do…what roots are these that you’re talking about? Whose roots? Indian Army’s got troops and officers from all regions, religions and even tribes. They’ve a composite culture that’s entirely indigenous to the nation that is India! Going by the rhetoric of roots…there’s obviously a connection to a certain thought! That’s as alien to the Indian Army as what you’ve accused it of being…a British Ape!!
I don’t know why you had to react so erratic and agitated. I really wanted it to be meaningful , intellectual and genuine discourse.
Firstly regarding your seemingly accusation on me of having connected to “CERTAIN THOUGHT ” , REALLY?? I mean you people can turn anything political. In that case I really don’t know what’s your connection to some other type of ” CERTAIN THOUGHT”. In my opinion it is people like you who have given legitimacy, prominence and political power to goons like BJP and VHP. Because anytime someone have to have a genuine , meaningful and constructive intellectual discourse people on your side of ” certain thoughts” jump in with agitated responses as in your comment , which in turn let these Rouge elements come in and hijack the entire discourse.
When I mention roots , I am not for a second telling us to go back and start wearing centuries old attires , in fact I am personally strictly against dress coding of any type, I have always told men who wanted their women to wear sarees to look traditional, to first have guts to wear Dhoti himself and go to thier offices before opening thier mouth, nor I am suggesting for once to start following each and every ritual of ancient India. You are a perfect example of what I was mentioning , the colonial CONCIOUSNESS, because when you heard ROOTS , the only thing which probably came to your mind is politics, religion , class caste and so on, that’s what coloniasm has done to us. So please dont get irked by the word ROOTS without even understanding the context in which the person in front is referring it to.
As far as 300 years old org is concerned, this nation is thousands of years old , so a 300 years old org can’t be having a larger image than the very nation itself.
I agree that every professional army will have fighting traditions, this is a strawman argument because I never for once questioned the fighting spirit of brave men and women serving this country. I don’t know why you had to insert this argument.
Lastly what’s british about indian army today well the list is long . I am not for once is suggesting that things have not changed or as if still BRITS are in charge but progress has been very slow.
The battle honors of many regiments are still of those colonial wars, which they fought to subjugate us only , many mess across army are still proudly displaying the relics of colonial pasts including portrait of many BRITS who were actively involved in large scale violence against us. I can go on and on but that wasn’t my aim here.
Aarushi ji is doing a noble thing , in which I just wanted to contribute , not getting into bitter debate. Which I had done plenty, and happily busted the myths of many people as of what’s colonial in this organization, based on hard facts , study and logic.
But frankly I am not interested in that anymore , instead I want to contribute meaningfully in a genuine discourse.
And I genuinely believe that we have best possible solution for our contemporary problems in our ROOTS(“INTELLECTUALLY “).
Lastly about your last comment British Ape, I have not used the word Ape , probably you inserted it purposefully to vent out your agitation, I genuinely hope you feel better after that.
And I have not closed my mind to any idea unlike many people, if you can put it through a meaningful dialogue not name calling. Because luckly until now I am not affected by self- glorification , that what I said is the final word.
As far as name calling is concerned, people on both side of “CERTAIN THOUGHT ” have tried that with me. It doesn’t work and instead make the discourse poisonous, so please don’t do it 🙏.
Today what poison we are seeing today is because of people of both side of ” CERTAIN THOUGHT ” today , because the moment any narrative that doesn’t suite thier eco- chamber , they start name calling.
So, please rather than attacking each other , let’s come together and be part of a meaningful and constructive discourse.
Your fellow countryman.
Dear Aarushi , for the past 22 years or so i have been part of the change in the system, i have seen it happening as a ground reality. Seriously i have been part of webinars and seminars and skilling workshops et al. Those who wish to follow their unique career paths have always been allowed to do so.
I have a feeling you have met many a lowlife and none of our progressive sorority…
Also the resilience our veer naris and war widows display is not “taught” at any “candle making” silly workshop you mention.
If our ladies are empowered they are so because of the environment the armed forces offer…i think we are in many ways more progressive than a typical indian household even.i have taken a stand many a times over issues close to my heart, that didn’t mean i stopped being part of the environment.
If you have chosen to be the wife of an army personnel you have done so with your eyes fully open . No obligations if you don’t wish to be called one.
First of all “allowing” someone to pursue a career they want is neither a sign of progress nor what any of this was about. Like feel free to attack me, i’m rather used to that, but can you actually read what I wrote so you can stay on point? None of this pertains to what I was actually saying. Also, please, don’t project onto me your sentiment, i attacked no veer naris nor reduced their social station in any way, you will not succeed at putting words in my mouth.
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No one here “allows” career paths by issuing certificates…you surprise me by turning a statement on it’s head…neither should voicing an opinion be called an attack…why should i put words in your mouth…you have a complete hold over words i say😂
If you want change….. be the Change 👍 ……. I can name 100 positive things that AFWWA is doing and why professionals like you can be great motivators to the Sanginis who need that motivation in life.
And I am available to do anything positive and productive for any organisation, but every time I have tried, I was told “dress code”, “we can’t do this” and “these women are not interested in right and all”.
I dont know which generation are you from.Since 10 years all the welfare meets I have conducted every time there has been a lecture a presentation or a seminar on women rights…or career options for women..or investment schemes for women…
All the venom that you have spewed against army…all this happens in every organisation,every society.Malicious gossip against women?Lady, haven’t you faced it in college?Why army in particular?Your divorce,stepmom..all these issues have nothing to do with the army in specific.People with prejudices exist everywhere..less so in the army I would say.Rather army men and women alike are more tolerant to anything like this.Because they have exposure to more kinds of people from all over the country.They make new friends,new acquaintances,every other day.
As far as your view regarding free labour..dress code etc etc is there…saree is the most common garment worn in India by women..It is something special about our country.Why so averse to it?Do you attend a welfare meet or ladies meet or a coffee morning everyday?
How does it hurt to wear a saree to these formal functions?
We all crib about our situations many times,but that does not mean you can demean an organisation like this publicly just because you feel you have the right of freedom of speech.I would like to challenge you to speak all this nonsense about a civil organisation in which you might be working and then see the consequences.It is only the army that gives so much freedom to somebody like you to speak all this bullshit without any action being taken against you.
I wholeheartedly support your article! I have experienced it myself being a wife of an Army officer.I have seen how women are expected to be available all the time as some decorative pieces.You are absolutely right there is hardly any Freedom of choice and it’s high time the Army realises that the Wives are not their employees.I am an officer from the civil myself so I have seen and know the difference how women are treated in both the places be it parties or work.In civil u can breath.
I am a woman with self-respect as you are which any human being should be.I have dealt with issues myself few times in the Army where I directly confronted my husband’s senior officer.I made a point to him that I was an officer myself and I handled more responsibilities & issues than most of his officers did so he should not expect me to be available all the time to his calls & wishes!
You being so vocal and speaking the truth so specifically about how women are not rightly treated in the army was very much needed.Sooner or later it was supposed to happen and am glad it did now.
Honestly,I do not support any organisation be it defence or civil where women’s perspectives are not taken into account.Therefore, Let’s fight for our rights,let’s voice up for any injustice towards women or any human being.
Keep up the good work!
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Thank you for the support!
An army officer myself married to an army officer and of course very much a feminist, change is required and I see teeny weeny bits of changes are happening. But Aarushi ma’am most of the time almost 85% of the ladies I know just go bonkers over AWWA meet, dressing up, coffee meet blah blah, 10% go with the flow and 5% rebels over such activities.
You can’t do much to the 85% group as it’s voluntary and they cannot think beyond. Not many do it for their husband career but for sheer pleasure. Their attitude amaze me.
The few 5% have to fight their own battle..just be yourself and the world will adjust if not too bad for those people.
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Okay I agree there are women who enjoy the meets, I don’t think it’s 85%, but let’s not quibble over details, and that’s perfectly fine, let them participate. It’s really not about that, it’s about the imposition.
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I don’t understand the FUCKING OBSESSION some of us have to take things such the lady is raising and take it as a threat to the ENTIRE ORGANISATION OR AN AVENGER’S LEVEL NUCLEAR THREAT?! AREY BHAI she is literally telling you things to improve but why will people listen in a culture (Indian + Army) where any dissent is to be shut off or buried under the carpet, the same thing happened with the Sahayak issue as well.
Please understand fellow officers specially the senior ones as you all know Negative Peace is not peace it’s a time bomb waiting to explode.
Thankfully the newer generation of officers and their wives are far more nuanced and modernistic in their outlook and understand the difference between tradition and individual liberty. Hopefully woman officers coming through NDA will also help in the coming decades.
And also why such a defensive posture against her sexual harassment allegations, this is SO INFURIATING HOW CAN INDIA’S MOST RESPECTED ORGANISATION SEEK TO HIDE THESE ONGOINGS AND BE SO FUCKING UNEMPATHETIC TO A SISTER WHO HAS BEEN SUBJECTED TO THIS TREATMENT!!
Arushiji you bash on regardless, If I were you I would stop responding to those who are colonel and above , they are from a bygone generation, too easily triggered some of them probably because they too partook in some of these offenses or were guilty of keeping quiet.
Jai Hind and keep writing, these changes should have happened atleast a decade ago, no wonder young officers nowadays delay marriage especially those who came up in this culture(military family), some of them just to do their dharma of familial duty, join SSC and get married later or keep their wives away from the cantonments.
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I mean, they can continue to be in denial, and they can continue to cast aspersions on me, and they can also continue to say nasty things about me, they’re really only demonstrating that the culture within the army is noxious. Men twenty years older than me are saying terrible things to me and telling me I could have possibly been sexually harassed within the army as if I would lie about something like that. They don’t know me, hell you don’t even know me (but thank you for the support), but I don’t lie, ever. About anything. Someone told me I must be a terrible mother, someone suggested I don’t actually love my husband, and they actually believe that they are tarnishing me somehow by saying such things. I’d rather be attack a million times, every day, than be those people. What a pity it must be to be them.
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Don’t get affected by these people, they are lowlives. This is what lifelong gossiping and bootlicking does to organizations.
What you are doing is dharma. Remember what Krishna said to Arjuna. You go ahead and don’t bother with the misogyny. The young ones support you. The terrible mother bad wife jibes are to attack your womanhood. These people who are doing this have lost their sanskar in this colonial and regressive culture. Things will hopefully improve as voices like yours grow louder.
Bash on regardless.
It is absolutely true and the concerns raised are genuine. Army has raised a parallel chain of ladies. Boss s wife is boss of the juniors wife. Where as army rule says all ladies are same. The poor captains wife stands in a queue holding plate and dances, does emcee, sings as she is treated as a kid who leaned showing his teeth head or eyes to every one who comes home.
We have to u derstand that today wife of a jawan is equally qualified as the wife of an officer and skill building in 2022 seems a myth.
Forcing ladies for so called programmes are at the cost of taking out the time she can devote to her family kids and her career. Morever the programmes come with several rounds of rehearsals which eat up time and most fraustrating psychophanatic changes made by every Tom dick and Harry who is a senior lady.
Awwa which was meant to empower the women Jas actualy become a shackle for the growth of ladies and has become an organisation just to satisfy the egos of the ladies.
Consider the Awwa shops run in cantonments.. huge amount of govt resources and soldiers are used to run the shops and this is a gross misutilisation of manpower, and the poor jawan who is supposed to be a warrior has become a baniya selling jewellery and face masks..
Time to cut this cancer of awwa from army as it has turned to grow more stress among officers and causing family disputes when the lady is career oriented.
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Amazing piece of article
These days most ladies are working and many units are running short of officer ladies . You are lucky to be with your husband. If you re not okay with events , you can sign your unwillingness in the official communication by Adj. Why are you creating a fuss . I know of ladies who put their foot down and attended events they liked and avoided those they didn’t.
All the best. The country needs energetic people like you but not speaking bad about an NGO / any org the way you are.
There’s a difference between “speaking bad” and “speaking the truth”. I have signed my unwillingness, I have been harangued, I have been maligned. It’s not a “fuss” to stand up against harassment.
It is indeed refreshing to have someone identify and address the issues faced by most wives, which more often than not get drowned in thoughts of their husbands standing in the unit, his promotional aspects, his reputation etc…. I have served in the Air Force for 22 years. My perspective is that the Air Force is a more liberal organisation. A reason being that the airmen and their wives are well educated. Also, the wives of officers are well educated and I have come across ladies from all professions ranging from doctors, engineers, architects, teachers, bloggers, influencers, cabin crew, pilots, journalists, the list is endless. The Air Force too has its share of activities similar to the Army. I do think the ladies are given an option of volunteering for them.
The culture of addressing a lady as ma’am is instilled in us at a very young and impressionable age so it’s not easy to let go of it. That being said it is the lady who is to tell the officer that she is comfortable in being called by her maiden name…I do call a lot of ladies by their first name as they have told me to. It’s the comfort level that matters.
The solutions you have given to what all meaningful activities that can be conducted instead of dress up and do a dance or make vegetable necklaces are commendable and implementable too.
Unfortunately in this close knit society where everyone is expected to conform to the norms, anyone who doesn’t can become the subject of malicious gossip. It takes a lot of maturity on the part of seniors to prevent this from happening.
Kudos to you for taking the bull by the horns and presenting it so eloquently.
I guess I am a conformist and generally prefer not to upset the Apple cart. It was due to an incident during my early days of training in the Academy.
But the law of nature is change, and I believe you are the generation who has the courage to bring modern thought to the organisation.
Wishing you the very best as ‘Aarushi’ and do continue to be an unapologetic original.
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Look, i totally understand that not everyone is the type of person who does well with rocking the boat, and that’s totally fair. We all have different roles in life, but just the fact that you are open to the experiences shared by others, and supportive of their struggles, means the world to me. Thank you.
Dear Mrs Aarushi
1. Your article is an outcome of a personal experience and definitely can not be regarded as the gospel.
2. It’s ok that you may have some difference of opinion on how an event should be conducted.
3. However your narrative is an exaggeration, probably culture in the Armed Forces is one of the most open & courteous moreso towards women…..so issues like only wine for women etc is ABSOLUTELY BASELESS & INCORRECT.
4. Every organization has its culture and may be at variance with what we learnt at our home…..but do we outright reject it….May ne not. For instance at our home my sister would address our Buwa ( Father’s sister) as BUWAJI, but a lady of same age at her MNC Office as Radha, Catherine, Fariba etc……do you think that Office would allow her to address these ladies as RADHAJI, CATHERINEJI or FARIBAJI…..A BIG NO.
5. You are very happy to adopt that culture which is probably less respectful as per INDIAN CULTURE…..and here in the Forces you have issues on being addressed Mrs ……or Ma’am.
6. AWWA does a lot of good, which probably you are absolutely unaware of…..feel free to speak to me or anyone who is aware of the ethos……and don’t worry I am no General or Brigadier……just a youngster.
7. Traversing through the COVID Pandemic our organization has been such a strong support for all families……probably you may not be aware….or choosing not to be.
8. I don’t say that we are a Flawless setup…..but definitely one of the Best in the present scenario. We have our areas of concern and are ready to work towards them.
9. Do raise your issues with head of the Unit/”Formation where your husband is serving, I feel it should get resolved.
10. All the Best Mrs Aarushi.
The support of the army in the pandemic? I ran groceries for my entire neighborhood (all army, we were in J&K) because they were scared to go out. Not one person in my immediate circle from jawan to CO is treated by me like they aren’t part of my community. I have consistently made myself available to help from being available to women who were being abused at home, children who were being unable to study or the elderly who needed assistance. During the pandemic I was raising funds (as part of my job) for the most marginalized communities in India, including those displaced by the Delhi riots, not one person in the army contributed. I don’t judge that, but you judge me because you don’t like my point of view which is based entirely in fact. Hundreds of women, all army wives, have reached out to me after I wrote this post to share similar experiences they faced. Hundreds have shared with me through the years because i ASK. Attack me, it is easy, listening is hard, and listening is the biggest part of the problem. It’s shameful I have to list my humanity out to you, but you guys, you think a woman who speaks out is just one thing.
My view is exaggerated? Sir, i haven’t even mentioned the incidents where drunk “officers” have touched my body inappropriately, many were witness to this, so why don’t you ask me, and I will tell you. Raise complaints? Lol. Either you guys are blind or delusional. You yourself are standing here invalidating my experience and then telling me to raise complaints. Amazing.
Raising my voice doesn’t mean I am remiss in my duty, as a human being, my entire life has been in service of this country and its people, so please take your sanctimony elsewhere.
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1. I fail to connect with your one sided story.
2. COVID has seen the Richie-Rich of all metropolitan cities begging for a hospital bed. On the contrary Forces not only catered well for their families but helped civilians as well.
3. Probably you are not reading the harassment women encountered during COVID world over…..specially Europe & Latin America. You are myopic in your approach towards a Fantastic Organization.
4. Once again I say, yes we need to address certain issues. But there are NUMEROUS POSITIVES about this GREAT ORGANIZATION which OUTNUMBER the areas of concern BY FAR.
So your argument is that it’s bad in Latin America so don’t complain here? Gotcha. Real smart, real fantastic.
You are exactly the kind of officer , she is talking about . You are exactly doing what she has pointed out . Bro you are underplaying the issue and changing the narrative here . It’s so meta do u get it ?
Chronological replies to your points are as under :-
1. Not just her personal experience but a majority of .
2. It’s not difference of opinion it’s the difference between right and wrong .
3. Cultural is on one of the most regressive spectrum. Lol you don’t know nothing ! But yeah I guess you are a youngster .
4. Are you really seeing what you are typing ? U compared to typical Indian society which also regressive so yeah thanks for playing on our side .
5. Again Indian culture, thanks !
6. AWWA does so less as compared to what disgust it spreads that we can mathematically speak that it does nothing .
7 Neki kar dariya men daal , any which way COVID is as recent as 2020 .
8. One of the best ? We are best if only we can weed out people like you and mindset like your comment .
9. Head of unit is also looking as to where to go , for her stakes are higher .
10. Writing a positive statement doesn’t add glare to your crappy writing and mindset . But yeah All the best to you too . Work on yourself you might become a brigadier.
Thanks @Sukay. It’s amazing because the irony is completely lost on those who are invalidating my experience, calling me names and telling me to shut up. Like, thanks for coming in here and proving my point?
It’s amazing to me because I talk about these issues constantly, i talk about them with almost everyone I meet at parties or in the gym, and all of them agree when it’s just my ear, now that their brigadiers are sharing this post and calling me a nasty woman, they’re here defending their organisation.
I wish you would have led us to better times.
Hope you are making some positive change in your area of influence.
And I do feel proud of the culture I inherit.
One thing more …..wish you & similar mindset all the Best to be CEOs of some firms & do let us know.
Being Tigers on Internet is the easiest……
Your comment really just proves the point she’s trying to make..
Everything a women feels uncomfortable about or takes a stand against, it dismissed by your gender as an “exaggeration” or “it was a joke don’t take it seriously” then what’s the point of going to the unit head?
And what makes you think she hasn’t..
Would you not laugh on my face if I told you how to Manage a unit?
Exactly like that, unless you’ve experienced something or done something yourself everything only looks rosy from the outside…
Awwa is every bit what she has described.
You can’t sit here and tell us otherwise… you yourself may not be aware of the troubles of managing not just a household, our jobs and then organise an event that literally has no meaning…
It is Free labour, forced seniority by ladies and yes it is redundant…
No one benefitted from watching videos of “how to brush your teeth correctly” twice a year..
Today’s families are well past that stage.
Welfare today, should absolutely start will better education of opportunities and skill development, which awwa is wayyyy behind on…
And you very easily accuse her for accepting the corporate culture of calling older people by name… but she was clear in the blog post that she is getting paid to do that…
And wouldn’t you like to comment on the TRUTH about the threatenings, we often get on holding husbands career accountable for women who don’t want to/ don’t have the time to participate ??
Anything on that??
It is always easy to go about dismissing others complaints as frivolous. It takes guts and character to accept your faults, to question our beliefs and try to change it..
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