India: A Hell For Women?

Posted on August 13, 2012 in Society

By A. Vijay:

Violence against women is present in every country, cutting across the boundaries of culture, class, education, income, ethnicity and age. Even though it is now forbidden in most parts of the world, the reality is that violations against women’s rights are often sanctioned under the garb of cultural practices and norms or through misinterpretation of religious tenets. Moreover, when the violation takes place within the home, as is very often the case, the abuse is effectively condoned by the tacit silence and the passivity displayed by the state and the law-enforcing machinery.

In India even in the 21st century, women cannot step out of their house at any given time, assured of her physical and sexual safety. Everyday women in this society face more problems than men. The fear of violence and teasing restricts a woman’s anatomy, curtails her mobility and her ability to work and participate in social activities. Even today in India, women can’t move at night in secluded places and even at daytime at crowded places. Hundreds and thousands of incidents of physical / sexual abuse and culturally justified violence happens every day to women in this country.

Violence against women is often a cycle of abuse that manifests itself in many forms throughout their lives. Even at the very beginning of her life, a girl may be the target of sex- elective abortion or female infanticide in cultures where son preference is prevalent. During childhood, violence against girls may include enforced malnutrition, lack of access to medical care and education, incest, female genital mutilation, early marriage, and forced prostitution or bonded labour. Some go on to suffer throughout their adult lives — battered, raped and even murdered at the hands of intimate partners. Other crimes of violence against women include forced pregnancy, abortion or sterilization, and harmful traditional practices such as dowry-related violence, sati (the burning of a widow on the funeral pyre of her husband), and killings in the name of honour. And in later life, widows and elderly women may also experience abuse.

While the impact of physical abuse may be more ‘visible’ than psychological scarring, repeated humiliation and insults, forced isolation, limitations on social mobility, constant threats of violence and injury, and denial of economic resources are more subtle and insidious forms of violence. The intangible nature of psychological abuse makes it harder to define and report, leaving the woman in a situation where she is often made to feel mentally destabilized and powerless.

Every day I see women suffering in public places especially in trains and buses. For the past 7 years I’m travelling in train daily to reach my college and office. When a girl enters the general compartment, 90% of men scan her from top to bottom and comment on her appearance and dress. The most frequent comment that is passed on is “Why she enters general compartment when there is ladies coach?” — What a shameful dominating attitude. I always wonder why these people don’t have the image of their daughter/sister/wife at such times. Where does that strict and constructed image disappear while staring at the other women in society?

The physical, sexual and psychological abuse, sometimes with fatal outcomes, inflicted on women is comparable to torture in both its nature and severity. It can be perpetrated intentionally, and committed for the specific purposes of punishment, intimidation, and control of the woman’s identity and behaviour. It takes place in situations where a woman may seem free to leave, but is held as a prisoner by fear of further violence against herself and her children, or by lack of resources, family, legal or community support.

The usual argument in cases of sexual harassment / rape is that the female must have provoked the assaulting male by either being out of her home so late at night or by her clothes or manner. I want to ask the men: Why do you always look at women as a commodity? Aren’t woman a part of society? Don’t you feel the warmth of love of your mother, sister or friend? If an eve teasing occurs, it’s she is who is being blamed for the way she dresses and not he for the affront. It’s a human rights violation and is highly condemnable.

The society and the government which advices women what to wear failed to give out a strong message to those culprits who are involved in violence against women. Today India is listed as 4th dangerous country for women to live in. Is this is the achievement we gift our mother land? Is this what we are going to gift to our daughters, friends, wives and mothers? Raise your voice and join hands to curb this menace. As a genuine gentleman encourage and empower your daughter, sister, wife to follow their dreams confidently.

For me women’s safety is not just about safeguarding her from sexual harassments; it also includes safe spaces, freedom from poverty and access to all basic amenities, safe public transportation, financial security and autonomy and safer healthier community. Building such a nation is everyone’s job. It’s a mandatory duty of government and judicial system to perfectly ensure women safety and most important duty is to take severe actions against culprits and to give a strong warning.

Today, we are witnessing more violence against women in different forms in our country which is turning our nation into hell. Till we achieve the safer status for women in India, my advice to all the women is try to avoid dressing glamour. I’m not dominating, but I hope you all are aware of what actually happening in this nation which is now having more lusty beasts. It is time for our entire society to eradicate all forms of violence against women and to gift a safer nation to our coming generations.