GUWAHATI, March 11 - Misinterpretation of the texts of the holy books by the male members of the societies led to the discrimination against women all over the globe, said Prof Yudit Kornberg Greenberg, a 2019 Fulbright-Nehru Scholar from the University of Bombay. However, Prof Greenberg, who was delivering a lecture on ‘Gendered Bodies and Matters of Faith’ at the Sudmersen Hall of Cotton University here this afternoon, based her thesis on the Hebrew Bible and the Hindu scriptures like the Manu Samhita.
Prof Greenberg is primarily a Professor of the George D and Harriet W Cornell Endowed Chair of Religion and founder director of the Jewish studies programme at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. She delivered the lecture to mark the launch of a four-day workshop for the faculty, administrators and students of the colleges and universities in NE India.
“The incorrect and biased interpretation of religion by the male members has led to gender inequality all over the globe. These misinterpretations were possible because of the widespread ignorance of the people about religion,” she said.
Asserting that male members’ interpretation has been dominating humanity’s perception about woman, she said the Hebrew Bible has it that God created man. But here two stories are mentioned because of the bid to misinterpret this holy book. While one story claims that man and woman were created by God simultaneously, the other says that they were created separately and woman would be bearing children and subjected to be dominated by her husband.
Bleeding women, – the menstruating women – have to face stigma. Moreover, impurity of woman’s body has also been attributed to her conceiving and giving birth to children. Her entry in the Synagogue has hence been prohibited and Jewish women have to fight for their right to be the Rabbis. They are to secure the approval of the wider circle of the religious leaders to rise to the post of Rabbis.
The laws of Manu, that is, the Manu Samhita, also prohibit the menstruating woman from entering the temple, she said citing the example of the Sabarimala Temple. But, she maintained, among some tribes attaining puberty by a girl is a matter to be celebrated.
In the United States, the 1972 amendment to its Education Law prohibited sexual discrimination in educational institutions. Jewish and Hindu women can also bring forth changes in the male-imposed perceptions about them, she said.
Earlier, welcoming the guests to the workshop, Cotton University Vice Chancellor Prof Bhabesh Chandra Goswami said that a slogan should be articulated which attributes women’s success to the support of the menfolk.
Speaking on the occasion, Registrar of the university Prof Diganta Kumar Das said that Cotton University would introduce a PG diploma course in gender studies to pave the way for a full-fledged gender studies centre at the university.
The workshop, to continue till March 14, is being organised as part of the HAMSA project for women’s equality, empowerment and leadership through safe higher educational and work spaces, by the Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace, an initiative of the Foundation for Universal Responsibility.