A group of young girls file into the Manju Sanskar Kendra at 7 am, cover their heads, and begin to read from religious texts. The reading slowly morphs into hymn singing, and is followed by three hours of brushing up on important skills, ranging from ‘How to touch your mother-in-law’s feet’ to ‘How to brush your teeth when you are at your in-laws’ house.’ They are at the Manju Sanskar Kendra in Bhopal, India – a non-profit group that teaches women how to be good wives and docile daughters’ in law.
Over the years, several independent research reports have stated that India is probably the worst country to be a woman. And while infanticide, child marriage and dowry are flagged as the main reasons, the problems come from an inherent lack of respect for women, which seems to have a special place in the heart of Mr. Alidas Hemani, the founder. His instructions on cooking, cleaning and satisfying their husbands’ desires are peppered with bits of wisdom like “When menstruating women touch flowers and leaves they decay faster”, “Too much sex leads to diabetes and tuberculosis” and “Men will be men. Your husband is like a god.”
While it is probably shocking that the institution exists, more telling is the fact that the classrooms are filled with seemingly-eager young women, and that it attracts donations for over $1000 a month to cover its running expenses. Apparently, paying a woman to be docile qualifies as charity.