DEVAKIJAIN, NIRMALA BANERJEE (Ed.) TYRANNY OF THE HOUSEHOLD, Shakti Books, 1985, pp. 278, Rs. 125.
"Family with father and mother or husband and wife and the rituals that have gone into marriage, and the rules of behaviour, and the role allocation that have been spelt out, sometimes provide an impossible barrier to equality between the sexes"—is the statement and understanding that runs through the theme of this book. The highlights of the various papers covering aspects of women's life in India and Bangladesh are, thus, terms like "the family with father and mother or husband and wife", "rituals", "rules of behaviour", "role allocation" which take off from a common theoretical premise that "women from within households have the common experience effacing different forms ofintra^household subordination whatever class or caste" and it is further stated conclusively that "this common experience within this world of the household could not only provide the basis of organisation but also provide perspectives which could be called feminism or the method and articulation of women". Unfortunately, apart from attempting to prove that 'gender-based' inequality is a harsh reality", the studies provide little in terms of developing a'perspective', called feminism or anything else. However, the book does make interesting reading as it does elaborate on aspects of everyday life (obvious to many) and is an informative package for those who have not had anything to do with, be it the women's movement or any other economic, political and social issues weighing down the majority of the people in our country.
What are the related points regarding the problems concerning women highlighted by the authors ? Amartya Sen and Sunil Sengupta record the" high incidence of undernourishment, even of severe and disastrous types in every category owning less or no land. Sex bias is reflected in the greater prevalence of undernourishment of various degrees among girls than boys-resulting in lesser growth dynamics of girls vis a vis boys. A conclusion drawn by AKM Chowdhury in his study of maternal nutrition in rural Bangladesh chat "food supplementation to pregnant or lactating women during the lean period probably could help protect women from nutritional deterioration, Drevent low birth weight and infant's death and increase people's work :apacity", discloses nothing about the class of women he may be referring to, heir economic compulsions and, basically fails to extend his conclusion to