It is simply torture in the name of culture!
Torture is done every single second, every single minute, and every single hour to approximately half of the population of this mighty land called India.
We are all proud to be citizens of the largest democracy of the world-a democracy which through its constitutional provisions guarantees all its citizens- justice, social, economical and political, equality of status and of opportunity. Here, we will try to figure out what these words signify to “second sex’.
Just before going into details, we will scroll through some headlines which will manifest what “justice” and “equality” means in Indian context-
1. A woman has approached the RCF police in Chembur with a complaint that she was raped by one Hemant Patil (28) after he promised her of getting married
2. A woman residing on Dabhoi Road filed an offence with the Wadi police station after she was allegedly sexually harassed by and stabbed with a scissor
3. Three persons were acquitted for raping a photo journalist, 23in Mumbai’s Shakti Mill area, who earlier raped a 19 year old in the same place.
4. Amnesty international takes serious note of the police officer for delaying investigation in the rape of a 22 year old girl on July 11.
5. The Supreme Court on Thursday granted bail to Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal for sexually assaulting his colleague in a hotel of Goa.
6. In the recent riots in Uttar Pradesh, several Muslim women were raped.
The list is endless. But relaxing at our recliner, we can never imagine why her soul and body is subjected to such brutal torture?
Since independence, India had progressed in several spheres. But still the “survival of the strongest” law counts and from the point of psychological stigma she is labelled as “weaker sex”. From birth, women are subjected to humiliation. His birth is celebrated with joy and she is filled with pain and grief. He gets best education, food and clothes and for her, the least care is expected.
All is done in the name of noble culture of India!
Reflected on population basis, 35 million women are “missing” from India. In societies, where men and women are treated equally, Women tend to outnumber men. So, in India the ratio should ideally be 1020-1030 female per thousand of man. With the exception of Kerala and puduchery the ratio is less than 1. In Punjab, Rajasthan& Haryana, this gender gap is 12% at childhood (0-2 yrs) which increases to 25% at childhood (2-6 yrs). Alarming enough to point out that this sex ratio is higher in rural areas (949) than in urban areas (929). So, apart from socio economic cause it is all about mindset, mindset of a heavily male dominated society. The artificial gender discrimination from the birth teaches a girl child that she is “paraya dhan” and her brother is “apna dhan”. Long before bodily aggression is inflicted on her, her soul is tormented and she is taught to accept inferior position in society. In her subconscious mind certain thinking patterns are ascribed to cop up with a certain value system. She plays with dolls and utensils and are given bangles, anklets etc, thus communicating a system of fragility.
The overall impact of this obstacle to women is the ultimate inertia that halts the socioeconomic progress of the country. When half the population remains in dark, can there be light?
This gender bias also attributes to poor health status of women.
In the patriarchal society, son is considered to be the representative, successor and supporter of the father. Father considers that he will live through his son. That’s why son has the right to perform last rites of his parents. On the other hand a daughter is considered as a migratory bird that will set up her nest somewhere after marriage. She will have her gotra and surname changed. As per 66 th round of N.S.S data out of 162.83 million households in rural areas, 19.16 million (11.8%) are women headed whereas in urban areas out of 68.27 million households, 7.93 million (11.6%) are female headed.
After marriage, often not only her surname is changed, but also her first name, as if her previous identity is completely erased off. Very few of them are fortunate enough to start an independent household. Often the newly wed wife has to perform her role in front of hundred criticizing eyes. She is earlier considered a burden to her paternal home and now she is a socio economic gift to her husband. Her worth is judged not in terms of her right and dignity, but in terms of her utility to the household. Her social prestige is determiner in terms of her husband’s socioeconomic worth in the society.
A rural woman explains this very well
“Men in our families are like the sun, they have a light of their own (they have resources, are mobile, have the freedom to take decisions.) Women on the other hand are like satellites, without any light of their own. They shine, if and only if, when the sun’s light touches them. This is why have to constantly compete with each other for a bigger share of sunlight, because without the life there is no life.”
In India the definition of a married woman is simple-she will not own or inherit property except for a few regions, will not have her own home and almost certainly is man dependant. Most of the laws of the land confines men and women to their strict gender roles. They are mostly framed in colonial era when a woman’s chastity is her man’s property. For example the law of adultery punishes a man to commit a crime against a man in respect of his wife.
Woman is subject to aggression not only by her own husband, but also by her father, brothers, uncles at their homes. Domestic violence can be defined as when one adult misuses power of relation to control another through violence and other forms of abuse.
Overall, one third of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence and 1 in 10 have experienced sexual aggression. In total, 35% have experienced physical or sexual violence. The picture is relatively better in north east and south, where female literacy rate, economic independence and awareness is relatively high. The picture is more dismal in respect of Muslim society due to social customs.
In India the dowry system is a burning issue, bride’s family providing valuables is to the groom and his family. If they are not satisfied the bride is ill treated, socially harassed or even murdered.
The Dowry Prohibition Act,Sec 498 A of Indian Penal Code,Sec 198 A of Criminal Procedure code are the legal teeth against domestic violence, but in India it is still the key challenge.
According to the crime clock 2005 of National Crime Records Bureau, one crime against women is reported in every 3 minutes, one molestation every 15 minutes, one rape every 29 minutes, one dowry death every 77 minutes, and one sexual harassment in every 53 minutes. It is to be kept in mind that this is the tip of the iceberg as the rate of reporting is quite microscopic due to social stigma.
Indian judiciary responded accordingly. way back in 1979,in the custodial rape case the court observed that lack of consent will be presumed in such cases leading to sec 114-A to Indian Evidence Act and leading to the acquittal of constables. Victims were convicted by fast track courts on speedy basis upholding right to speedy trial enshrined in Art 21 of Indian Constitution and on “justice delayed is justice denied principle”.
The gang rape of 23 year old student Jyoti Singh Pandey in the night of December 31, 2012 in a moving Delhi bus, shook every Indian woman who bears the fact that sexual harassment is a part of their daily life.
In the backdrop of Nirbhaya rape case,Verma committee, constituted to frame stringent laws against rape, pointed out that women required dignity, and respect and equal space in every sphere of life that our constitution envisaged than laws and bills to bring about equality. Women must have the ability” to insist on total equality in relationships, both with society and the state. “
Let’s not forget that 98% of rapists are from victim’s family.
In an unequal country it is hard to imagine what liberty for women means. Just omit the causes for which men fights against women, so that the gain of one’s power is always weighed against the loss of the other’s powers.
Women are trafficked everyday by luring them of job and marriage. They are sold like cattle in the open market. In the clout of social customs like Devdasi, woman’s puberty is auctioned .Laws are there, but still the practice continues. Women are treated like slave, every moment her dignity is being mocked.
Working women everyday faces plight at her workspace. From the gender bias in awarding job responsibility to the sexual harassment the problem is complex. However, after the Bishaka guideline came into force the situation has changed a bit-but I repeat only by a bit.
Feminist Gloria Steinmen suggested that we should imagine equality. But it is hard to envisage. Anybody who stands firmly on ground can only look to the sun at the sky .every day, every minute she is sinking in quick sand. To her where is the sun? Where is the sky? Even a rapist is defended on the plea that the victim’s dress was provocative; her look is seductive and so on.
Will she ever be able to fight back against this culture?
One day she will walk on the road, her head is held high, her mind is without fear of hunger, without fear of molestation, without fear of illiteracy, and without any fear about the future of her future girl child.
We all wait for the day……
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