A tribute9, Jan, 2013, by Seema Bhatnagar
This post is my tribute to a martyr who lost her life for just no reason. Her only mistake was, that she was a female and being a free citizen of a country took the liberty of going out during evening. She did not know that she will have to pay a cost of her life for this liberty. My heartfelt tribute to this 23 years old girl who lost her life due to rape and brutality caused to her in a moving bus by 6 men on Sun, Dec 16, 2012 in New Delhi, the capital of the largest democracy of the world. After battling bravely for life for 13 days in hospital, succumbed to her grave lower abdominal injuries. Her death has stirred up rage and anger amongst people who raised their voice against stark violence against women in capital.
It is impossible to believe that it is a story of a nation where the feminine power is worshiped for physical strength; Kali and Durga are the symbols of strength and in the same land such heinous crime are being committed against women.
Several rape cases are reported everyday in our country but this particular incident has ignited the anger and rage in people, because, probably the incident happed in the capital and the girl did not die immediately after the brutal act, otherwise this too would have become a part of statistics.
This news is not something a surprise for us, every other day we hear news of rape and other form of violence against women, but continue with our routine, thinking that the nature of the crime is not so grave. Our lax attitude towards such crimes shows, how much we are concerned and respectful towards our womenfolk, who makes almost half of the society.
This post is my tribute to all those women and children who became victims of sexual violence and had to suffer immense pain, brutality and indignity because of the crime and violence committed against them. I really do not feel, their soul can rest in peace, in my own capacity my only heartfelt tribute for them would be to bring some change in myself and in my vicinity and in spreading the awareness about the sexual violence and above all in creating zero tolerance for violence against women.
This post might give you a feeling as if some feminist is writing but change your perspective and read it as if it is written by an individual who believes in equality, freedom and fairness towards all beings, only then you would be able to understand and feel this post better.
Question of EqualityIt is our common notion that women are given equal rights in our society, at least in educated class we have this notion. If you give a close look you might agree that it is an absolutely wrong notion about equality. There are some of the inequalities which I see in my everyday life and I am posing them to you for a deeper thought.
- Why women have to change their last names after marriage?
- Why women are not trusted to lead financial matters at home?
- Why sisters are considered bad if they take their share in parental property. Why only brother has to decide the amount of share to be given to sister?
- Why the foul and abusive language, abusive towards mothers and sisters, is commonly heard amongst man, is not considered obscenity and a punishable offence?
- Why wives have to address their husbands with salutations of highest honor (in Hindi, "Aap") while husband uses the most informal one ("Tu" or "Tum" in Hindi language) ?
- Why women are made primarily responsible for taking care of kids, cooking food and managing kitchen and home? Even if there is any domestic helper, why it is a responsibility of a woman to give her instructions.
- Why is it always woman who has to adjust/leave her career in case of husband getting transferred or relocated?
- Why it is difficult for males to accept female boss?
- Why parents of daughter have to worry about accumulating money for marriage?
- Why parents of girls have to worry about getting her married before she attains a particular age? Is child bearing the only objective of woman's life?
- Why it is always husband who is driving a car even when wife also knows driving?
- Why wives are given only used cars for driving while husband buys a new one?
- Why our culture promotes the celebration of Karva Chauth? If it is a celebration of love then how come husbands do not worship wives on the same day?
- Why bhai dooj and raksha bandhan are celebrated to ensure the protection of sisters by brothers?
- Why men feel it is alright controlling woman for what and how she should say in front of others or in any conversation?
- Why men take great pleasure in cracking sexist jokes?
What does these common observations, highlighting inequality, tells us about our society, that women are suitable only for household chores and raising kids while men are bread winner and superior. There is a lot of stereotyping in our society and it is accepted as a part of culture. It is not only true for Indian society but it is widespread across all countries, developed or developing only the degree or magnitude varies.
Women adjust to all these inequalities in the name of love and for keeping marriages and family intact, some would not even consider these as inequalities and continue suffering as a gift of destiny. Some of you might not even recognize these observations as inequalities but as an important part of culture. But I would urge you to think from a mind of a fair person irrespective of your gender, probably then only you would be able to register these real as inequalities.
Interestingly, when I ask some of my female friends and cousins who are well educated, to involve their husbands for household chores they feel a sense of marital discord about this idea. Majority of my male friends have a same mindset that female are more suitable for managing home. This tells me that our education is only to get a job and does not help further.
Since centuries, our culture has been worshiping patriarchy and that has become the sole reason of inequalities prevalent in society. Patriarchy is so deeply rooted in our society that life seems impossible to sustain without it. The basic of patriarchy is the rule of male power, according to which all beings must be controlled, protected and ruled by males.
Home, a basic unit in a society, is the first school for a kid, what s/he sees at home becomes a reality of the world. Sons sees their mother following dictates of father and get a subtle message that female cannot rule home, it is only father who is a head of the family and all important matters must be approved by him only, though mother may raise voice but the ultimate decision has to be from father. This sets the stage for males, since their early childhood, to develop an attitude of being superior to females.
Preference of male child and female foeticide further confirms the mindset that males are superior to females. A complete family is which has a son, presence of only daughters is almost equivalent to curse as it shows the absence of power, which is required in the male dominated society or patriarchy.
Wine, women and money, a popular definition for successful man, I am wondering if there is any such definition exists for successful women. Probably, popularly heard and the nearest definition for successful women, is having a wealthy husband and kids. It gives a subtle message that women is like any other object to be owned by man and probably the more of it is better.
Since childhood, a girl is considered to be protected either by father, brother or by husband. A single woman is seen as vulnerable and helpless, does not matter how much she is educated, mature and financially independent, she cannot be considered as an individual. The supremacy and dominance of men starts from home where subtle actions conveys that men are superior and are physically strong, so a woman must get married to feel protected in this male dominated society. This conditioning is so deep that people who are highly educated and belongs to upper strata of society wholly complies with this.
Women are considered best suitable for house hold chores and raising kids at home, as this does not pose any danger of going out and getting abused by other men. Because of this, women make suboptimal choices for careers and that is the reason why there are so less number of women in corporate boards and in top most hierarchy of any organization.
Our film industry, in the name of art and entertainment business project women wooing men by doing item numbers (another form of cabaret) and shown as a sexual object giving in to lust of men. This further degenerates the image of woman and portrays her only as a commodity to be available for men.
The power equation due to patriarchy in our society is the basic route cause of this problem. Patriarchy is deeply rooted and because of that women are considered second grade in our society, equivalent to an object to be possessed by somebody who is more powerful.
Woman in an unsafe city
Being a woman, living in a most unsafe city of the world, a constant thought resides in my mind that if I am going out, somebody can drag me inside a car or a public transport, can rape and assault me brutally if I oppose the coercion, and will be thrown in the garbage bin as a waste. Somebody will save me if I am fortunate enough. My ordeal will not stop there, police or moral police will blame only me for travelling alone and will object to the clothes I am wearing or would be blamed for inviting others by having smile on face. If police officers are in mood of working, they might oblige me by filing an FIR, further to that they will make me feel guilty by asking queries which any decent person would even hesitate to think about, and then the sharp comments of nears and dears, like "this girl was very outgoing so this had to happen and now who will marry her", and "her whole life is spoiled" etc.
In this whole sad story, nobody would be concerned about my mental and psychological condition and I only would be made answerable for the beastly act and might have to wait for the rest of my life to see the perpetrators behind the bars or probably if they are powerful they will get away scot-free.
There is so much social stigma attached to rape due to which several 1000 cases are not even reported in our country, which in itself is an open support and encouragements for rapists. Why marriage is such a prime objective or a most coveted dream for a girl since childhood and not for men? Probably, the deep conditioning of a society that every woman needs a man as a protector throughout her life and living as a single woman for a whole life is an utter insanity and will only invite life threats without a protection cover is the sole reason for this mindset.
Rape is an extreme case of violence against a woman, what about the daily ordeal, all women have to struggle with, prodding in buses and public transports, leery looks on streets, indecent comments, whistling and obscene gestures. Policing cannot stop such crimes, I guess, we will need another a 2 billions of police personnel to combat only such crimes.
On several occasions when I am travelling in public transport, I constantly think, how do I make sure that man sitting next to me or walking behind, does not have that beastly instinct lurking and will not harm me? It feels so vulnerable and helpless as if you have come to an alien planet where all forces are working against you.
If you think that men who belongs to economically weaker section of society and illiterate are committing such crimes then you are missing a whole point. Men who do not dare to put family honor at stake on roads take different route and watch porn in closed rooms to get the same feeling of watching women giving in to beastly instinct.
Since I have travelled to other countries, I have an experience behind me to say that such crimes against women are common all over the world, only the degree and social attitude varies.
In a democratic country, where girls are given equal education and employment opportunities then why women have a feeling of helplessness and vulnerability on not having a man around. Why woman is equated to a sexual object only? Why woman has to serve man in order to have some meaning of her life while men are honored just because of their gender. It makes me feel as if being a woman is sin and she has to pay a penalty for it every day.
Whom should we blame for all this, to men, who are causing or the women, who are suffering in subtle and gross ways or the religions which are preaching inequality based on gender?
Solution - Personal Development
Stringent laws and fast track redressal of such cases are good deterrences and must be in place but still it is a cure and not a prevention of a problem.I strongly believe and propose to all that only solution to reduce the crime and violence against women is the personal development.
Our experience shows that our religions and basic education are complete failures in teaching us the basics of humanity i.e., accepting every individual, irrespective of gender, color, caste, economic status or geography, as equal having same rights to exist in this universe.
We must educate every individual about the concept of living the best of personal potential. Let's teach our children what does individuality means and why should we respect it? What is the importance of discipline in life? We must understand what it means empowering woman and accepting them as valuable individual and an integral part of a society.
Before we teach our children, we must address our own attitude towards women. To start with, revisit your own attitude towards your mother, wife, sister or daughter and see how much equality mindset you believe in and really follow in your personal life. Do you really take your mother, sister, daughter or wife seriously for the most important decisions of life? How much trust and confidence you have in their capability and skills. I would also urge women to raise their voice against the subtle inequalities in their daily life at home and work.
Forget what others are doing about it, start with you and make difference to this cause in your capacity. Start with you and your home.
Providing education and employment opportunities and making stringent laws are not enough, we must address our social attitude towards women and must stop treating her as a sexual object equivalent to money and wine. She must be accepted as a complete individual having personal likes and dislikes, opinions and has a capability of making decision about her life. Let's make it our one of the most important and prime lifelong goals to respect each and every being on this earth for what s/he/it is.
Shedding tears and feeling sympathy towards victims of sexual violence will not be of any use, the real tribute to all those women and children, who lost their lives because of sexual violence, would be to bring change in our own attitude. Let's make this world a fearless, respectful, equal and better place to live for all and this would be possible only when you extend your support.
If you liked this post, please share it with your friends, near and dears or anybody whom you feel can make difference in this world.Thoughts can shake and invigourate thoughts in others too, your one little action can make the differnce in this world. Do your bit in making this world equal and peaceful for women.cheers