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Do We Really Not Know The Reasons Behind Increasing Violence Against Women?

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By Arastu Zakia:

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to see ‘Badlapur’ – a film where Varun Dhawan’s character forces a woman to have sex with him, has deliberately planned sex with another to create an alibi, and strips a third to humiliate her husband, all as revenge against a bank robber who killed his wife and child.

Badlapur film poster

A while back, after the ‘Nirbhaya’ brutalization, I remember the whole discourse over the lyrics of the song ‘Fevicol se’ from the sequel to Dabangg. Trying to research it a little more online, I stumbled upon a making of the song video on YouTube. What struck me the most in that video was when Kareena Kapoor, also the actress who starred in the “item number” said “My favourite line from the song is – Main toh tandoori murgi hu yaar, gatkale saiyan alcohol se”, which was the very line causing the furore.

Recently, an acquaintance of mine got married. I had always known her to be amongst those girls who displayed tremendous potential. She had done her graduation, post-graduation and had a few successful stints at buzzing companies. She could have had a great career and would definitely have gone places. I met her once after her family had successfully coerced her to get married and I remember her looking extremely worried. Upon asking why, she told me that she was supposed to go to her in-law’s place to tell them that she wore glasses and her family was worried that it would jeopardize her wedding. In one of her wedding functions, I distinctly remember the most expensive gifts displayed in public for the groom’s extended family to gossip about and take home.

As a child I remember a friend telling me how his recently married cousin had to show a bloody bed-sheet to her mother-in-law the next morning after her wedding to prove that she had been a virgin. I also remember recollecting this episode when I passed by a temple on the AMC Heritage walk that had a sign outside which read something on the lines of “Women are not allowed to enter during their periods”.

A few weeks back, a group of friends had come over to my place to play board games. That is one of the few remembrances from our childhood that we still like to continue. Midway through the fun, one of our female friends got a call and went into another room to answer it. As she came out, she seemed visibly perturbed and told us that she would be leaving immediately. Her father had called her, boiling with anger and had reasserted his command to never stay out so late, especially not at a boy’s home. That we had all been friends for over 5 years was immaterial it seemed.

Sometimes when I walk into my office and see my only female colleague, I do wonder whether she must ever feel uncomfortable being the only female in a 10-people team. At other times, I guess, maybe she would have gotten used to it by now.

A few months back, I remember reading about the Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan’s statement: “So-called ‘sex education’ should be banned.” I also remember Sakshi Maharaj’s comment on how every Hindu woman “must produce” at least 4 kids. Leslee Udwin’s BBC documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ has been banned and there are detractors who are slugging it out online taking pride in how UK is worse for women, asking Udwin to focus there!

On March 6th, Kaushal Chauhan, a security guard aged between 20-25, lured a 6-year-old girl child to the basement of an under-construction building in Sola, Ahmedabad. He then sexually assaulted her and inserted a 12-mm-thick-4-and-a-half-feet iron rod in the child’s genitals. As per Chauhan’s confession to the police, he had had a feud with the child’s father and this was his way of getting back at him. This baby girl is now out of danger but lies in the Sola Civil Hospital where because of the harm to her genitalia, doctors have been forced to surgically open her intestine for her to pass urine and stool.

Recently, we were discussing this incident at a social gathering and a gentleman there asked with a lot anguish: “Why does this happen?”

Hmmm, I wonder why!

You must be to comment.
  1. Vidhi Chawda

    We have seen various commercials on usage of toilets and women health but why can’t we get commercials on after effects of rape and sexual abuse…. Women’s commission needs to focus on this as awareness can only break the stereotype mentality of our society……

    1. Ra’s al-Ghul

      Why don’t we have commercials for after effects on men who have been accused of rape falsely, who are boycotted by society, who can’t get a job, whose reputation is ruined, careers are destroyed, and life is ruined even when they are cleared – and I am not even talking about the thousands of innocent men rotting in jail due to false allegations of rape.

  2. Ra’s al Ghul

    Men are not seen as human beings in society, that is why we never talk about the biases that men face on a daily basis, women usurp half of men’s properties during divorces, courts give men stricter sentences for the same crimes that women commit, juries give verdicts against men in domestic disputes, women usurp half of men’s properties in divorce, men give alimony to women, misandry in the media, sexism against men, domestic violence against men, how men are locked up in false cases of rape, dowry, and domestic abuse, more than 3 times as many men die due to dowry harassment from women, domestic violence statistics do not take into account verbal and psychological abuse that men suffer from at the hands of their wives, yet we talk about violence being a woman’s issue.

    Men are the oppressed gender.

    From 2005 to 2008, as many as 22,000 men have ended their lives in reverse dowry harassment after allegedly being tormented by their wives. In contrast, dowry harassment has driven 6,800 women to suicide. – Times of India

    According to NCRB data, there were 2,22,091 arrests related to 498A in 2013 alone, out of which 1,74,620 were men and 47,471 were women – A man is arrested every 3 minutes for dowry – 98% cases are false.

    Millions of boys face male genital mutilation. Of course that doesn’t matter, because they are boys. Millions of boys are kidnapped for forced labour, drug peddling, sale of organs, illegal adoption, and begging. There is a silent epidemic against the blood, sweat, and tears of boys who work as labourers, cleaners, servants, in lock factories, as mechanics, in restaurants, as street-vendors, at tea stalls, as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, woodcutters, rickshaw pullers, etc. Many boys’ limbs are chopped off and then they are forced to beg for the rest of their lives.

    When 133 boys were killed in a school in Peshawar, the media used the word ‘children’ to hide crimes against boys. When Boko Haram kills, mutilates, burns alive, and slits the throats of boys, no one raises an eyebrow, but when he kidnaps girls, the media and feminists wake up. There are numerous such incidents.

    The biggest perpetrators of violence against women are women themselves – 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. Sisters-in-law are not far behind, with their family politics.

  3. Ra’s al Ghul

    Men were the ones who were victims of slavery and racism, and those being killed in war. Even today, men protect the borders of our country so that we can sleep in peace, and I believe that “we” includes women. When the Titanic was sinking, it was men who said “women and children first” knowing they will be dead and could have chosen to leave.

    Men work in the army, men work as construction workers, men work as coal miners, and throughout history men have worked dangerous jobs to feed and support women, often losing their limbs and their lives. On buses, airports, and other public places, when one seat is available, it is the woman who is seated by her husband/boyfriend/brother. It is men who leave their seats for women. Have you ever seen a woman leave her seat for a man? Also, women must feel really oppressed by the fact that seats are reserved for them everywhere, from the political arena to the corporate world.

    Horrifying incidents taken place with men daily, which no one talks about. Let me take the Nigerian case, for example. On Feb 25, 2014, 59 Nigerian school boys were killed by Boko Haram; some were shot, others had their throats slit, while the remaining were burnt alive, but there was so little international coverage it was almost as though the incident did not take place. Three months later, when Nigerian girls were kidnapped, the Obama administration, media, and feminists suddenly woke up, and there was an uproar and campaigns and what not. Violence against boys is the same as violence against girls, but those 59 innocent boys were not a subject of discussion because they were boys. Now imagine if the same has happened to 59 Nigerian girls. Would we have been so silent?

    1. EggsBenedictCumberbatch

      I hate how men start with their “but men face these problems too!!!!!!’ stuff when they hear women being victimised or women fighting for their rights.
      Firstly”Men face these problems” should be its own issue.
      And if you’re only bringing it up to counter the problems women face and to silence them, then you’re a scumbag.

    2. Ra’s al Ghul

      Why are domestic violence and dowry made to look like women’s issues, even though the majority of victims are men? Why can women usurp half of a men’s properties during a divorce and life savings in the name of child support and alimony get away with it?Why do courts give lighter sentences to women for the same crimes committed by men? Why do juries discriminate against men in domestic disputes? Why does an innocent man being lynched in Nagaland not become news? Why do fake cases of rape not make headlines? Why don’t articles on violence against women mention the fact that the biggest perpetrators of violence are women themselves – mothers-in-law. Why don’t domestic violence statistics comprise of the psychological abuse at the hands of wives? Why isn’t the fact that a man in India committing suicide every 6 minutes screaming headlines? Why don’t we write about fake cases of dowry by women as veciferously as we do so called women’s issues? Why are life boats reserved for women? Why are men supposed to leave their seats for women? Why are men obliged to earn and women given a choice?

      Where is equality?

    3. pooja

      Didnt You know more than 300 girls were taken away by the Boko Haram after killing almost hundred of them who protested?

  4. SG

    Below is one of the reason I think responsible for the increase in violence against women.

    Till the present young generation, most of us have been brought up to see that girl and boys have been treated differently (Some of the parents have tried to raise kids without discrimination).
    This did not happen in recent times. These have been happening for a few generations now. This distinction of better treatment along with male feeling of superiority adds up to the feeling of being further up ahead of the food chain.
    Our history has been filled with men fighting wars, earning the livelihood and other reasons have been seen as their right to be superior. The problem here is that they seem to have forgotten that because women stayed at home taking care of things they have been able to achieve things they have.
    So instead of thanking them for their support, men started seeing duties performed by women as duties created for them. This leads to the male feeling of superiority. These further down the line lead to the better treatment of men and bad treatment of women. As generations went by the distance between the treatment for men and women increased.
    So, men as they have learned to fight war to get what they want, fight to protect what’s their and fight for their right (fighting is not only related to violence, it also the manipulation and controlling what’s theirs and even work). Instead of leaving these at the battlefield they applied the same when they got back. Like victory in trade, war or occupation have been seen to revered and rewarded. While the women who stayed home and taken care of kids and home have been ignored. The men who know how to survive in the war (war as not just war it includes the trades and the work they do) have used the same knowledge to survive and adjust back home. So, mistakes made by wife was punished and the cycle has started. The wives who didn’t know about what happened to their husband tried to adjust and the cycle went on. There never was a chance to stop this cycle because the men (most of them) enjoyed the dominance, there were few who understood and tried to stop it but there were so few that they were mocked about it.
    The violence will take sometime to get rid off. It will be a slow process. we can start by the next generation, we can teach them to respect women. We can show them then cooking, cleaning house, taking care of kids is not just a women’s work by doing them. We can teach them that men are not the only ones who can work and lead women can do it equally efficiently. Instead of teaching girls to be safe, we can teach our sons to protect them (not essentially as a brother but as a human). We can teach our sons to not indulge in eve teasing or public sexual harassment (we also need to teach them to stop it from happening if they see it happen).
    This is the start of a solution.

    1. Ra’s al-Ghul

      Most parents beat their boys while girls get away with a warning. This takes place in schools too. Discrimination against boys is ubiquitous. Men used to go to war, and were used like objects for the protection of women (and men). Not much has changed. Instead of thanking men for toiling all day at work, women take it for granted, think of men as objects, and use men like ATMs, porters, drivers, dildos, and servants, who must run errands after a long, strenuous day at work.

    2. Pizza

      How is it that you are aware of what goes on in the privacy of other people’s homes? How parents choose to discipline their children? You’re making broad sweeping generalizations about men and women in general without proof.

      “Instead of thanking men for toiling all day at work, women take it for granted, think of men as objects, and use men like ATMs, porters, drivers, dildos, and servants”
      What about the men who expect their wives to act like maids, stay at home and take care of the children, do the shopping, washing and cooking? All of these thankless jobs without any renumeration. And yet the household would collapse should stay-at-home women fail to accomplish any of these tasks. Show a little support for them.

    3. Roh

      But the problem is that those issues (of wives being treated like maids etc.) ARE being addressed. There is feminism for doing that. Yet I don’t see feminism working on issues of men being the ATMs, porters and so on. Is it that women issues are of greater importance? So much for feminism being gender neutral. Sexism and gender issues, they affect both genders equally, perhaps men more.
      No one is suppressing women’s issues. If that were the case then YKA would not have dozens of articles on the same topic (regarding feminism, rape, dowry, blah blah blah). Yet it has only an isolated few on sexism faced by men. It is quite clear, that it is their issues being suppressed. Open your mind.

  5. Vid

    Firstly because, Indian men and their mentality towards women is different. You cannot compare India with west, even in today’s England the Queen rules. If you want further proof, go and see how men respect feminity and not treat it as a weakness, esp the stupid people who are putting the example of Titanic here. Their men are very brave and they know being manly doesn’t define raping women and children. Why? Because they are taught and brought up like that. Anyway, so why is Indian society and its men different? Because of the upbringing. Mothers favor their boys more than girls. Always. They do not keep an eye on their ‘ladla’ boys and put all kinds of restrictions on their girls. That’s the way in Indian society. Shame the girl for having vagina and lower her self-esteem. But why exactly its like that? Because humanity is an evil race and men-women never learnt to respect their difference and co-exist. That is why, gender war has always been going on in history. Men are physically strong and less emotional because evolution wanted them to be, to be strong and PROTECT the women and children who are not physically strong. So, that is why they are supposed to fight on the border. It is their natural job. If men are the oppressed gender, then why 99% of men hold the highest position in all countries, why they run ISIS and Boko Haram and all kinds of criminal organizations. 90% of all the criminal activities are done by men. If men are facism ‘racism and slavery’ then who put it at the first place. Another group of men. Don’t make every other issue a gender issue. I mean I can see few really really stupid comments here. Racism, slavery, war are not gender issues, they are human issues.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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