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Blurred Lines Of Justice: Violence Against Women Just Can’t End If We Don’t Consider This!

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By Jason Jayology:

Edited by Suzanne Mahadeo

How do you change the society without changing the sub-parts of how society constructs its social perspective? Whenever there is a case of severe violence against a woman, we hear the chants of “No More.” No more rape, no more domestic violence, no more ‘honour’ killings, no more slavery, no more unequal pay, no more. Subsequently, we speak about tougher penalties. We talk about hanging rapists. We talk about tougher prosecutions in courts. We talk about an end to police corruption. We talk about building toilets, making acid illegal, creating all-women modes of transportation. Name any one of the aforementioned that has brought a dead woman back to life. Name one of the aforementioned that has ‘unraped’ a woman. Name one of the aforementioned that has rejuvenated the skin scarred by acid. Name one of the aforementioned that has recognized the inherent dignity and potential of a woman.

Picture: Price of Silence Stage Manager Bridget
Picture: Price of Silence Stage Manager Bridget

Beyond the problems of everyday society, you have the dialectical social theorizing of violence and equality by academics. There are “western” solutions, or “eastern solutions.” We have these imaginary lines in our arguments–East and West.

Then of course, we must invoke nationalism. “End rape in India.” “End rape in South Africa.” “End rape in the United States.”

After all of this posturing, there is our current reality.

Right now, as I write this, students are being brutalized at Jadavpur University as they seek justice for a student who was molested. At Columbia University, the so-called pinnacle of academia in the United States, a young woman is dragging her mattress–symbolic of the mattress she was raped on–across campus, from class to class to protest the administrators’ impunity of her rape. Do we want justice for these women? Yes, and we want it now. We want assailants and those who covered up their crimes, fired, arrested, and brought to trial. But will firing them, arresting them, and bringing them into a courtroom end violence against women? No. Will it even end it at Columbia University or Jadavpur University? No. How do we exert the social message that men have power over women, and that women’s point and purpose in life is singular–to serve and fulfill men–and then expect change? Misogyny is the social, ritualistic tool of patriarchy. So we must first examine the social rituals that engender patriarchy and limit women. Equality is freedom, and without freedom there can never be peace.

I am the artistic director of a global grass-roots theatre company, Price of Silence. We strive to bring courage to women to stand up and shout out for real change. On stage, we bring to life the violence that women face all over the world for our audience to live and breathe activism in action.

Our most recent show, Blurred Lines of Justice (a spinoff of Robin Thicke’s sexist anthem Blurred Lines), brought to life the concurrent stories of three rapes on three continents to illuminate universal injustice against women, which occurs without borders and beyond all cultural boundaries; this is a cause for unity among women, not division.

The stories of these three rapes were acted out in an interwoven narrative to give life on stage to those who lost their lives in the misogynistic world we face today. Daisy Coleman, drugged and gang-raped at a party, her body left in sub-zero freezing cold, had a positive-identifying rape kit, yet her rapists never served a day in jail. Her house was burned down, leaving her remaining family to flee Marysville, Missouri in the United States. A teenage girl dubbed Liz by the press was gang-raped and brutally beaten; she is now mute and bound in her wheelchair. Liz’s assailants were sentenced to community service–cutting grass in front of the courthouse–and then freed. A young girl in Kolkata was gang-raped twice, and later set on fire, from which she passed from this world. We dubbed this young girl Lahara, and her attackers were never found.

We knew little about the character we called Lahara, because her young life never extended beyond being a minor. Given the little we knew, we decided to match the spirit in which the Kolkata girl struggled for her life within the narrative of Lahara’s fight, and countless other young girls who challenge the norms that disintegrate their spirit day after day. The monologue below is adapted from a poem Lahara wrote within the show after doing chores. She runs out into the street to greet a friend who really wants to go with the social flow aligned with her expectations as a girl; the friend sees marriage as her only way of upward social mobility. Lahara rips into the idea of marriage by connecting the social aesthetics for beauty, consumption, and materialism, with the objectification of women. Lahara compares being a wife in a loveless marriage to that of being a hand bag. She shows how every investment made in her as a person is one that helps elevate her in the marriageability ladder:

Handbag wife. Magazine cut-out wife. Luxury car wife. They send you to school to get married. Can’t afford school? No worries, you can still get married. Your only prerequisite is you must pass the virginity test. They ask you: Why do you color your hair? They tell you: Cover your hair. Whiten your face. Cover your face. Close your mouth. Do not speak up. You are a gift for him to unwrap. When you learn to dance, it is only for him to see: “Look how she moves, and bends, and hangs,” and he thinks, “Oh, in bed I bet she…” You learn to play the violin and he thinks, “Oh look parents what she has mastered, she’s refined.” A Gucci bag, a luxury car, a BMW Lady he can drive. You looks good in pics, his friends will be impressed, the neighbors will say that Ashvin did fine for himself. You’re a fine Fendi bag, but when no one looking, he’ll throw you in the corner. You will be stuffed, stretched–you’re just a bag. He doesn’t mind hitting you, because you’re just a bag. You serve one purpose: carrying his things. You carry his food to the fire, his laundry to the water, and if you forget something, he can throw you away. You’re a fucking bag. A useless, bag.

The monologue, which was brought to life by the talents of actress Nandanie Devi, encapsulates the heavy social pressure weighted upon girls. As a man, I couldn’t even begin to comprehend the intelligence, grace, and courage with which women negotiate this world while constantly being under such sociocultural scrutiny. We force women to see themselves as the subtotal of their cosmetic appearance. By promoting this perspective, we are promoting the ideals of subservience. Subservience is a mechanism of dehumanization, and dehumanization is an instrument of violent social coercion. Cultures are not meant to be stagnant. If how we organize socially and culturally is not appraised and changed, in the face of everyday stories of depraved violence, then we are all guilty in being accomplices in the largest human rights crisis in history, that of violence against women. Progress is a beautiful word, but progress only comes by way of change and change has enemies, because change shifts power structures. Change is uncomfortable for those enjoying power and those who benefit from power, whether that power is economically, socially, or culturally. Still, I would rather my power as a male be diminished than have to listen to another story, from any continent, of any girl, of any religion or ethnicity being bludgeoned by any weapon in the arsenal of gender terrorism. We must define the culture of the 21st Century into a vision of action. This action must illuminate the realities too often silenced. You don’t get progress following the values of fifty years ago, you get progress by setting the rules for today. The children who grow up fifty years from now, grow up in the light of our actions.

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  1. Babar

    The author, like a typical feminist, has deliberately omitted the fact that the biggest perpetrators of violence against women are women themselves i.e. mothers-in-law. And in households where mothers-in-law are kind, it is the daughters-in-law who wreak havoc and break families apart, by poisoning their husband’s minds against their parents and siblings.

    Women love to beat their maids and servants black and blue, especially child servants, and take enormous pride in taunting and abusing their husbands, not to mention physical violence. Men do not report domestic violence because it is considered unmanly to do so.

    If you talk about the violence perpetrated by women, you can also be a victim of death threats from women, as in the case of Erin Pizzey.

    Pizzey has been the subject of death threats and boycotts because of her research into the claim that most domestic violence is reciprocal, and that women are equally as capable of violence as men. Pizzey has said that the threats were from militant feminists (Wikipedia).

    Furthermore, people sympathize with women’s causes because of the hype in the media, as it gets attention because people sympathize with women’s causes. It is almost as though violence against men does not exist, which is evident in this article that selectively chooses to talk about violence being a woman’s issue.

    Since courts and juries worldwide are biased in favour of women, and police are also more likely to believe women, women abuse the judicial system to their advantage.

    According to the Canadian statistics on gender equality:

    Women receive physical custody of 92% of all children of separation, and men only 4%, women are acquitted of spousal murder at a rate 9 times that of men, men are sentenced 2.8 times longer than women for spousal murder. Furthermore, men commit suicide at 4 times the rate of women, live an average of 7 years less than women, account for more than 95% of all workplace fatalities, and are murdered at a rate 5 times that of women.

    The draconian Indian laws have led to an increase in the suicide rate among men, where a woman simply has to accuse a man of abusing her, physically or sexually, with little evidence, if any, and land him behind bars.

    Compared to women, twice as many men in India commit suicide.

    As many as 1,35,445 people committed suicide in the country last year. Statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that excluding West Bengal, 79,773 men and 40,715 women had taken the extreme step (The Hindu).

    As for the author’s heinous propaganda about unequal pay, women work less number of hours than men, take maternity leave, work easier jobs than men, and take courses in college which pay less, with humanities taking the lead.

    1. SS

      You have spoken about the exact same points in almost every article on this website. We all got your point. Maybe now you can take rest and retire.

    2. Babar

      Your advice would be better suited to feminists, who have reiterated the same propaganda for years now, to have naive people succumb to their lies about liberation and emancipation. Women are so gullible that even if you tell them to smoke in the name of liberation and emancipation, they will follow suit – Google Torches of Freedom.

    3. Voice of reasonv

      @Babar – Hats off to you man, there is not even a single article about gender equality, or justice to women, where you have not really shown your ignorance. No matter whoever be the author, what ever be the issue, you have always said something or the other, even moderate authors who do not go about male bashing face your meaningless rant………….. Dude why dont you write an article on your amazing thought process!!!

      Basically i do not even want to argue with you….. some people like you and green lantern etc are impossible……….. but yes your consistency is good, only if it was sensible, sane and correct…………..

  2. Babar

    Since you are talking about equality, please allow men to tell you that men and women are two distinct being, emotionally, physically, and psychologically, and both men and women have their own strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, there are seats reserved from women everywhere, from the corporate world to the political arena. And in public places, men always leave their seats for women – have you ever seen a woman leave her seat for a man? So much for equality.

  3. Babar

    Since you have talked about marriage and the perceived inequality, why is it that women always look to marry men richer than them, earning more than them, and having a higher social status than them. Women live luxuriously, courtesy of their husbands and then we have feminists talking about equality in marriages, to the point where a woman making a cup of coffee for her husband comes under the category of inequality. If a woman goes shopping everyday with her husband’s money, eats out at cuisines and fast food restaurants every second day, and then whines about making tea and breakfast in the morning, then it goes on to show a woman’s height of ingratitude towards her husband.

    In western countries, from Starbucks to Second Cup to Tim Hortons, all coffee shops employ mostly girls, who spend hours and hours making coffee, serving all kinds of men. In India, go to Cafe Coffee Day or Barista Lavazza, and chances are, more often than not, you will find a girl behind the counter, ready to make coffee for you. Women can work in coffee shops, women can work as waitresses and serve in restaurants, women can work as airhostesses and serve in planes, but the moment a woman serves her husband, there is an uproar from feminists about inequality.

    Is it any surprise that since the feminist movement, with its claims of emancipation and liberation, divorce rates have shot through the roof. The feminist movement, while harming men, is not doing any good for women either.

    1. Captain Logic

      I am not sure what women you are talking about but most women I know, especially feminists like to pay for their own selves and be self-dependent instead of relying on their partner for everything. You should really try going out with a feminist (and by feminist I mean people who want equal gender rights) to know that difference.

      More men work in coffee shops, restaurants etc. than women. By that logic, more men should be willing to ‘serve’ at home too than women?

      I am shaking my head at your ignorance and lack of any logic whatsoever. By your understanding, hey, women, why do you have to complain about domestic violence, rapes and molestation as long you have these reserved seats to sit on! Better shut your mouth about the constant fear of safety when you step outside of house (and sometimes even inside), female infanticide, dowry, harassment and all the billion other gender based problems you face as long as you can buy that pretty dress with your husband’s money.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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