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Why Isn’t Each Story Of Sexual Violence Against Women Making Us Angrier?

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By Arjya Pragyan Mohanty:

A demonstrator holds placards during a protest in New Delhi December 29, 2012. A woman whose gang rape sparked protests and a national debate about violence against women in India died of her injuries on Saturday, promoting a security lockdown in New Delhi and an acknowledgement from India's prime minister that social change is needed. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi (INDIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW) - RTR3BYMC
Image Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi.

“8 year old child raped by neighbour.” “Techie gang raped in a bus.” “Newlywed murdered for dowry.” These and many more such headlines shock us every morning and leave us perplexed making us think if this world is a safe place for women.

Woman, she has been praised for what she is: being a mother, a wife, a sister. She has loved and cared all of us unconditionally. God has sculpted her beautifully, but amidst all this, she is still considered an object by society. Civilisations flourished in every corner of the world but even after so many years, the so-called civilised society can’t guarantee the safety of women. Indian mythology scripted in Rig-Veda, Ramayana etc. discouraged violence against women. There were many strong women during those times. the example of Gargi, Maitreyi etc. shows that. Gargi was invited to a conference on philosophy, held by King Janaka of Videha, and she challenged the highly learned sage Yajnavalkya to a public debate. But nowadays, be it the workplace or the home, gender discrimination is deeply rooted in both urban and rural India.

Gender based violence is inherent in many cultures because of gender preference where the birth of a son is preferred. According to the United Nations, in 2015, the sex ratio of the world was 101.70. That means 101.70 males for every 100 females. This indicates a preference for sons over daughters, thus risking the lives of infants and young women. The way to stop this is by preventing sex-selective abortion, or infanticide.

After a rape case, the whole world unites and the people pour their anguish out and protest against it. And one month down the line there’s another case. In these cases, the victim can be a three-year-old or a seventy-five-year-old lady. These cases force us to think about the psychological state of the rapist. Some come from backgrounds where women have always been objectified and a patriarchal system is followed. For an instance, in India, khap panchayats order gang rape as a punishment for women suspected of inappropriate relationships. But that isn’t always the case.

Stories of every household vary. The question is, are moral values and ethics taught to children, do the children respect their mother, does a boy respect his sister. A child grows up to be the way he is groomed. Most countries’ legal system discriminates to a greater or lesser degree against women, so the laws and policies should be reframed favouring women. The laws should be amended giving a high degree of punishment to rapists.

Another thing which seems to feed into sexual violence is the depiction of women in movies and the entertainment industry. For a long time now, cinema has been the primary source of entertainment in every Indian household. Usually, in the movies, the male is the ‘hero’, while the female characters are fragile and submissive. The sad part is the way the society accepts these notions. Cinema reflects an orthodox mentality and society’s prejudicial approach towards women where they either dance to tracks with raunchy lyrics, or portray submissive housewives or girlfriends to their male counterparts. Why can’t a movie be hit because of Padukone or Ranaut and must always require the presence of the ‘Khans’. The very portrayal of women in celluloid should be changed thereby helping to change mindsets. This will impact generations to come.

When I see a girl of my age at my village getting pregnant after being married at an early age against her wish, a 25 year old widow who is not allowed to work or go outside alone, the feminist in me is stirred to revolt.

An increasing number of women have now begun raising their voice against discrimination, violence, intolerance. Now that we understand the causes of women’s oppression and the solutions to it, it’s our duty to make this world a safer and freer place for women. A place where every woman can exercise her right to freedom of speech and expression, and move freely throughout the territory of India, or practice any profession.

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  1. Asish Kumar Behera

    Indeed it is. what about millions of false rape cases that are filled to harass Men??Why are Feminist hellbent on linking sexual violence with Men.Can’t a women sexually harass a men or women?Men and Women are equally capable of committing Sexual violence.Why does violence committed by women goes unnoticed??
    The laws that are framed by Judiciary is biased and has put Man in more trouble.I can understand that we are heavily influenced by
    Hindi-Urdu Bollywood industry which puts all blame in men.

  2. Arjya Pragyan Mohanty

    Firstly ,the false rape cases are investigated and not left unnoticed , for example in 2015 Delhi court filed a case of perjury against the woman for false allegations. Feminism is provoked when the surroundings compells a woman to be and in India all are equal under the law .The point is its not only the sexual violence but pleothra of activities that has made the society to pinpoint men. Men and women are equally capable of committing violence, but sir is the number of cases of men more than women or the extent of violence in the case of men more than that of women. Hindi Urdu Bollywood movies very first portrays violence against women and the sins being committed by men.

    So it’s better to stop the blame game and stop stating man being the scapegoat. It’s time to change our mentalities and respect every gender in the society.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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