The following articleÂ is a winning entry in the CREA contest on “Violence And Women: What Remains Unseen“
ByÂ Alankrita Anand:
“Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.” — Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007)
That is the pivotal point I look at violence from.
Our streets erupt in perpetual clamour, at times to protest against brutal rapes, at other times to protest against unsatisfactory verdicts.
But is that all that constitutes violence? Is violence only corporeal, can it not be intangible? Is violence against women spoken of only in terms of their bodies being violated (bodies, I emphasize, not honour)? Nay, violence is a disease with its roots deep in the history of humanity. Violence comes from domination, domination comes from power and this power comes from millennia of entrenched patriarchy. But we have come to embrace it, even in our daily parlance. The highly sexist nature of sexual imagery in daily rhetoric is violence. When an American defence professor preaches that one doesn’t put an MX Missile into the silo of an old missile by using the following analogy: “Because they’re in the nicest hole, you’re not going to take the nicest missile you have and out it in a crummy hole”; it spells violence. Violence of thought. The termite that has bored deep into our minds makes us look at violence with great apathy.
Here are a few forms of violence- being made to dress ‘decently’ is violence, being chaperoned because it’s ‘late’ is violence, being made to follow patriarchy at home is also violence. Pardon the extremism, but to be prohibited from drinking (at 25 years of age) when your 25-year-old brother is allowed to is also violence. To term menstruation as impure is also violence; to restrict entry for women at shrines is violence. Where stands equality before law now, where stands equality before God now?
If violence has its roots in domination, then it also has its roots in discrimination; for violence follows a dialectic- domination and subjugation. Not accepting the independence of women is violence. Attaching the ‘loose morals’ tag to a sex-worker is also violence. Not doing the same to a man who visits her is injustice; injustice being another form of violence.
The battle against violence starts at home, when the ‘be a man’ adage is dropped perhaps. When uniform discipline is imparted to all, when societal norms are not gendered. Is this too Utopian an idea? Are we so gravitated towards seemingly inflexible thought? What chains us to the status quo? What makes violence unseen?
To end, I choose an example from the festive season soon to come. Come Dusshera and the Goddess is celebrated, for ten whole days too, her power is exalted, her might worshipped, her aura venerated. Why then, dear ‘mankind’, can you not respect the Goddess at home? I do not ask for veneration, just respect, tolerance to begin with. The Goddess in the fineries comes and goes but the one at home, remains.