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Violence against women – whose concern?

Current Year’s Resolution -‘Eliminate Injustice and Violence against Women’

Many Institutions allover the world declared the current year 2013 as the year for ‘Eliminating all kinds of Injustice and Violence against Women’.

President’s introductory comments

In the introductory addressof 85th Annual Conference of of All India Women Conference, Mrs Bina Jain, its present President  had asked raised a very pertinent question on the theme ‘Violence against women—whose concern, it is? She  asked:

 “Is it the concern of the government and the society only? Is it not the concern of all human-beings –male or female? Is it not the concern of each and every citizen living in a society?” 

“Yes, it is everybody’s concern. There is a dire need to change the mind-set of all – of the government functionaries, of the society, of the family and of all the people (both men and women). All of us should come out of the protective shell and work together to bring to an end all kinds of discrimination, injustices and violence against women?”

“Gender insensitivity, sluggish judicial system, insensitive law implementers, inactivity of civil society and alcoholism are some of the main causes of deteriorating situation in our country.”

There is a dire need to channelize simultaneously the attention and efforts of all the concerned people on this very sensitive issue of atrocities, discrimination and violence perpetrated against women. Both, the governmental agencies and society at large must wake up from their deep slumber and make a concerted effort   on a priority basis to secure the rightful place for the women in the society and create an ambience, wherein women can live and work with dignity and honour on an equal footing with men both at home and work-place. 

Agonies of women

In her journey from ‘womb to tomb’, almost every woman at some point of life suffers from social discrimination. Some examples in this respect are: feticide, infanticide, negligence/discrimination against her at home  while she is growing up and also at work-place, dowry, cruelty at  in-laws’  place, bride burning, trafficking,  unequal and improper property rights, no freedom to take her own decisions in matters like education, marriage, job etc. etc. The list is endless.

Position still not satisfactory

There is no denying that women in Indian society have come a long way, particularly in big towns, as a result of increasingly more access to modern education and efforts made both by the government and various agencies. But the number of successfil women is very very small. The fact still remains that even now the position of majority of women continues to remain vulnerable. Most of them continue to feel insecure/unsafe both within the four-walls of the home and outside the home—on the roads, public transport, educational institutions and work-place.

 The Deep Impact of the ‘Nirbhaya’ episode

It is really unfortunate that in the recent past, a most inhuman and brutal gang-rape of an innocent girl took place in a moving bus in Delhi on 16th December 2012. This tragic incident was perceived in the eyes of the public as among the most dastardly acts perpetrated against a girl in a civilized society in modern times. It is not, therefore, surprising that this incident was widely reported in various media of mass communication, capturing the imagination of all and sundry.

This brutal gang-rape   triggered an unprecedented reaction, igniting suppressed emotions that got amply reflected  in the form of  protests and agitations  at India Gate and Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. The mass-scale anguish of public has brought many serious issues in the forefront.

Assessment of the present situation

A prominent jurist commented on the current situation of rising acts of criminality and violence all over the country in the following words:

“In Indian criminal justice system, major crimes are likely to remain unreported; if reported, frequently not registered; if registered, the true perpetrator not found; if found, not prosecuted; if prosecuted, not charged; if charged, usually not convicted; if convicted, frequently not adequately punished. At each crucial stage, the system has enough loopholes and inefficiencies to allow the guilty to walk away with impunity.”

The  charged  atmosphere  created by  the recent protests and agitations put tremendous pressure on the government, so much so that efforts on a war-footing are being made to make radical amendments in law so as to ensure that criminals are severely penalized and not easily let off the hook as was the case earlier.

Wake up call 

How long, people will continue to bear all the injustice silently? Time has now come, when people representing different segments of society and professions, come forward and raise their voice in unison against the bestial acts of cruelty, to which women have been subjected for a long, long time. It would not be wrong to say that putting up with injustice silently is no less a crime than the actual act of injustice.

Role of the society 

There is a dire need that the main focus of all the sections of the society should be on empowerment of Women with special focus on social, educational, economic, health and legal needs of women.  Under the inspiring guidance of many women leaders and social reformers of national stature, the movement for women’s emancipation has gained momentum recently. 

Alarming rise in acts of perverted behaviour

It is rather unfortunate that even 66 years after India’s independence, atrocities against women continue to be perpetrated in the wake of deteriorating law and order situation and moral values. Also,  constant rise of alcoholism and influence of movies, has contributed immensely to losing one’s power of discrimination  and consequent  alarming  rise   in acts of  perverted  behaviour—prominent examples being  rape of  daughter by father, rape of little girls, passing lewd remarks on girls in public places, etc. 

Series of seminars on the issue of violence against women

Various organisations and institutions have been expressing its anxiety about the gravity, enormity and dangers of continuously deteriorating law and order position, deterioration of human values, self-centered attitude of individuals and alarming rise in bestial acts against women, making it very unsafe for women to move freely outside their homes. It is necessary to bring these issues to public domain in a forceful manner through conducting series of seminars on the theme “Violence against women, whose concern?” 

Speakers and panelists from different fields and eminent personalities responsible for decision-making in the Government should get togeter and should conduct an in-depth research on the subject. To view the situation holistically, in its various aspects, they should share their views on the subject. Views of some of the victims of atrocities should be taken to understand their unpleasant experiences and the manner in which they fought against such inhuman acts.

 The focus should be on:

* Finding out the root causes of the problems in different states.
* Thinking about effective preventive measures and finding out need-based solutions of the problems of different areas.
* Role of the policy-makers, society, media, religion and NGOs in solving the problems. 
* Providing relief to the victims at local level, and
* Get a national perspective on this issue.

How to deal with the problem?

Effective enforcement of existing laws and accountability of law enforcement agencies would help in tackling these issues more effectively. Mere enactment of stringent laws would not suffice to protect women from social discrimination and domestic violence or violence at work-place. Similarly, only education and employment for women do not ensure their security in society.  It requires both preventive and punitive actions as well as certain immediate and long-term corrective measures on a massive scale at individual, familial, social and governmental levels for making the atmosphere safer for the women.

The approach of the society for the sustainable development of women-folk should be two-dimensional:  preventing violence against women and protecting, sheltering and rehabilitating the the women victims through various agencies spread allover India. For this purpose –

Stress on legislative reforms

 legislative reforms

There is a need for some legislative reforms and amendment of laws in favour of women relating to property rights, discrimination against women at workplace and inside homes, perpetration of violence against women, property rights, etc. with the purpose of achieving the avowed goal of women’s empowerment.Through its various literacy, training and awareness programs in different parts of the country, AIWC has been trying  to make women aware  of their basic legal rights.

Raising voice against gender discrimination

People must raise their voice  vociferously against gender discrimination, insensitivity of the government and the society, half-hearted enforcement of the existing laws, sluggish judicial system.

Spreading awareness

Through various awareness programs, literacy and training schemes  in different parts of the country, women should be made aware about their basic legal rights.

Stay Homes

With a view to providing protection and rehabilitation to victimized women, government and various NGOs should provide shelter to help needy women through Help-lines, Family Counseling Centres and women hostels for workiing women and Short Stay Homes especially to help women in distress.  

*At the level of government

  • Amongst immediate steps, the most important task on the part of government is to arrest the continuously deteriorating law and order situation. It demands deputing of increasingly more women police officers in all the police stations and vigilant policing round  the clock both in cities and suburban areas. 
  • Speedy and time-bound justice is demanded urgently. Delayed justice emboldens the spirits of criminal-minded elements in society, who take advantage of loopholes in law that enables them to go scot-free even after committing a heinous crime.
  •  Reforming the structure and systems of governmental institutions engaged in the law-making and enforcement tasks  are  highly desirable though this may  take a long  time. 

*At the level of Society

Bringing about a radical change in the mind-set of people and the entire social structure, wherein women are looked upon as second-grade citizens, inferior to men, also may take a very long time. Yet the time has come when people representing different strata of society should do some serious introspection to find out where things have gone wrong.  

  • It is of paramount importance to create a social structure wherein women get their rightful due in society without any gender-discrimination—both at home and at work-place— and that they are treated in a manner befitting the role played by them as loving and caring mothers, affectionate sisters, cute daughters and good companions. 
  •  There is an urgent need to create gender sensitization in society so that the attitude of men towards women in general undergoes a big change. It is important for men to understand that women are not mere property and objects for enjoyment that can be bought and sold.

*At the level of family

Family and “Home, sweet home” is the first and foremost institution, where a child learns the first lesson of humanity and social relationships. It is the centre of happiness for all and the best place to inculcate good values amongst children and youth.  Best training for gender sensitization can be imparted within the family itself.

  • Childhood is the most formative, educative and impressionable time in a human’s life. Values, which aware parents inculcate in child, remain permanently and firmly embedded in the child’s delicate psyche.
  • Within family, positive values like honesty, simplicity, modesty, sense of responsibility and respect for elders can be inculcated amongst both the male and female children.
  •  Familial support can provide proper safety-net for girls and women. Right from the beginning, children of both the sexes should be treated equally, without any gender-bias. 
  • Also, it is important that boys are taught to treat all girls with respect so that when they grow up they develop a protective attitude towards women. Inculcation of such values among boys would go a long way in creating an atmosphere wherein women can move around freely in society without any fear whatsoever.

* On the part of the women

  • Women too can contribute their humble mite in creating a cultured prosperous society and in bringing about social re-awakening through writing articles, organizing seminars, etc. 
  • Only women, by virtue of their soft and sensitive nature,  can spread the culture of ‘loving, caring and sharing’, of beauty in life, of cleanliness – clean houses, clean streets, clean bodies and clean minds.
  •  Instead of silently bearing all the atrocities perpetrated against them, women should raise their voice against injustice and work together for a better future for all.
  •  Woman must herself be aware of her rights in society and then make all possible efforts through various channels to get her rightful due in society.
  • Woman should  exercise utmost vigilance both at the mental and physical levels  to make sure that no one tries to exploit her when placed in adverse circumstances in life. She must always be prepared for self- defense and get training in “Taikando”, which would raise her confidence level to move around fearlessly.
  •  It is important that all women, irrespective of their social status in society, join hands in a spirit of unity in raising their voice boldly against social evils like dowry, bride-burning, female infanticide, etc.
  • Women should make it a point to make the best of every little opportunity they get—be it a conference, a home-party or a ladies’ meeting—to share with one another their opinion  on the  manner in which  they  are discriminated against in society in different walks of life. By sharing their concerns with one another, they would be in a better position to understand the women’s issues and to find appropriate methods for highlighting them through various media.

On part of AIWC

AIWC is also planning to set-up Core Committees involving experts, young boys and girls with a purpose to spread awareness, to inculcate positive values amongst all; to bring in new ideas to curb crimes. ‘Prevention is always better than cure’. The core committees are supposed to continuously evaluate/monitor the progress and plan for better future. 

In Conclusion

In recent times,  the Indian society has been passing through a very difficult phase where human values have  reached an abysmally low level and women are being  treated   as mere objects—thanks to the constantly  deteriorating condition of the law and order  situation  that has made  life of women miserable. The recent  unfortunate occurrence (Nirbhaya)  has  contributed immensely to  igniting the dormant  fire within conscientious people  representing all age-groups  to come out in the open  to express their deep feelings of anguish and to  pressurize the government to take urgent steps  to ensure that such dastardly acts are not repeated in  a civilized society.

It should never ever be forgotten that woman is a source of immense power. Without women, men’s world stands nowhere. It is the woman who is the creator of a new life, sustainer and educator of the new generation.

It is time to remember India’s age-old rich cultural heritage and values wherein women were treated with great respect in society.  Our learned ancestors and  personalities of eminence accorded  a very high  and coveted position to women, eulogizing them   through  use of  Divine names like  ‘Lakshmi’ (Goddess of Wealth), ‘Annapurna’ (sustainer of human life), ‘Saraswati’ (Goddess of knowledge) and ‘Durga’ (Goddess of Power). All of us wish that our country becomes a haven for women where they can live with grace and dignity and, above all, without any fear.

We may conclude with the following words of Swami Vivekananda: “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved”. 

Editor, Dr. Lata Sinha – Member-in-charge Communication and Publicity  Email – aiwc.newsletter.gmail.com
 
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May 12, 2013 - Posted by | Women's issues |

6 Comments »

  1. Well written. Kudos. However, I think the basic reason for the poor position of women is the fact that they are physically weaker than men. Culture outlook of the society contribute too. Does financial independence help? May be. The communists gave equal position to women in every walk of life. But did it make their life better? No. After working in the factory or office, women had to deal with domestic chores and tend to children which increased their workload and added to drudgery. In the West (which is the most advanced and educated and is our model), domestic violence is common and is the worst kept secret. There, women are free to live in and marriage is in decline. It may appear very liberal and emancipating but it weakens women’s position. In marriage, women have rights and security. I think, only good, moral education and cultivating spirit of civility in our children since their childhood can help.

    Comment by Dinesh Pratap Upadhyay | May 28, 2013 | Reply

    • I agree.

      Comment by latasinha | December 10, 2013 | Reply

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