Will the International Women's Day herald a new beginning?

Florine Roche

Mangalore, Mar 8: March 8, 2013 marks another International Women’s Day the world over and once again we will be bombarded with some spirited speeches, a few public gatherings, official functions eulogizing women’s courage, strength and contributions to society, few resolutions, promises and platitudes in plenty. It is too clichéd to write on the issue of women and their status just as it has become clichéd to cite the example of the incident of 23-year old Delhi student beaten, violently gang raped and murdered in December last, whenever we speak about rape. I might sound insensitive to use the world clichéd to describe the Delhi incident. But when we hear similar incidents of crime and violence against women from all over the country, which are regrettably on the increase, the Delhi incident fades into obscurity, though not out of mind, for the sheer brutality of the crime and the way the incident dovetailed men and women across the country in condemning the incident demanding highest punishment to the culprits.

Incidents like the one in Delhi or like the one in Haryana (infamous for its honour killings) where a teenage girl doused herself in Kerosene oil shortly after her rape a few months ago have been on the rise in India. Soon after the Delhi incident made way for a nationwide protest, another gang rape victim in Patiala in Punjab committed suicide as the police took 14 days to register her case and another 30 days to make an arrest. Just this week there was shocker from Punjab when two policemen mercilessly thrashed a girl and her father in full public view. Whatever might be the cause of provocation (the police claim they were provoked) one cannot condone such dastardly act by the police. The statistics that we put forth in our country don’t reveal the truth because many cases of crime and violence don’t get registered. Violence is a fact of life for many women and girls across the whole world.

Nearer home, when the brutal rape and murder of Sowjanya, a 17-year old student of SDM College in Ujire in October last is still fresh in mind, an equally gruesome attempted rape and murder of Soumya from Bantwal just a few days back, has come as a rude shock for the highly educated and intelligent people of our coastal districts. While voicing our concern and support for the Delhi incident we forgot to unite and fight against an equally heinous and gruesome murder of Sowjanya (which is still shrouded in mystery) and many more like her in our own backyard.

It is just ironic or a mere coincidence that UN theme for International Women’s Day 2013 happens to be “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”. The focus is to end violence against women, ensure safety and gender equality. Just look at the endless list of crimes against women - rape, battery, incest, harassment, assault, female infanticide, torture both physical and mental, female genital mutilation and sex slavery. All these indicate that we have failed wretchedly to provide security to our women and treat them with dignity and respect. Or is it prudent to say that our men have failed to come out of their savagery and failed to treat women for what they are?

Blame it on victims?

How can one explain the impudence or rather the cowardliness of our men folks having its stronghold over most Indian households, trying to play down these crimes by blaming the victims? The reality is that a male-dominated power structure having its hold over most Indian households has led to the culture of victim blaming. Isn’t it a sham that in India women are both victims of violent crimes against them and are also accused of inviting such attacks? If revealing clothes or provocative dressing is an invitation for rape, how do these people justify the rape, abuse and murder of children who are below 10 years? Did the four year old girl who was raped and murdered in Kodichikkanahalli in Bangalore in February this year provoke or seduce her 19-year old accused rapist Mahesh? It is only the bozos, cowards and weaklings who defend this kind of barbarism with such uncouth views trying to camouflage their own flaws.

We know that people cannot get away by stealing gold or diamond jewelry displayed in the showroom saying they were attracted or provoked by its display. Similarly, men cannot say and divert the issue saying women provoke them or invite trouble by the way they dress. Provocation to act is a state of mind as much as a case of the motivation to steal gold or other valuables. But thieves are not allowed to get away scot-free on that pretext of being provoked.

I do agree it is erroneous to blame the entire men folk for the violence on women. But most heinous, gruesome and barbaric crimes against women in one form or other are committed by men. For most men, rape is like an instrument of terror, subjugation and domination so as to show their superiority and to reign supreme. Whatever said and done, rape victims face mortification and social stigma from the society in general and not just from the males. Because of the stigma attached to rape and the insensitivity of the police force towards rape victims, incidents of rape and molestations do not get registered in most police stations.

According to a recent survey conducted in Hyderabad by leading English daily there have been no complaints of rape this year in any of the police stations. Investigations by the same newspaper revealed that women do not feel safe at police stations to lodge complaints. Setting up female police stations hasn’t helped either.

Many women the world over are finding their voice in new ways. On February 14 this year men and women the world over were asked to rise and dance together to end violence against women. There was also the One Billion Rising campaign at UN headquarters as part of this campaign. .

The response to masculine violence against women in India needs a holistic approach to deal with. Respecting women and girls must begin at home. An atmosphere of respect, peace and non-violence should be created home by parents and automatically sons/boys would follow suit.

It is time the society realizes that rape and violence is not women’s issue alone. Men need to join women to put an end to the senseless violence committed against them. It is regrettable that in our society there is complete normalization of violence against women and therefore we need to sensitize the society against these crimes. We have to sensitize the so called protectors of low – the police force against the ill-treatment meted out to women. One can imagine the plight of the widow of the slain Dy superintendent of police (DSP) Parveen Azad’s fight for justice against goondas sheltered by political leaders in Uttar Pradesh.

Let us hope the year 2013 will herald a new beginning in our resolve for suitable action to end violence against women. If the Delhi incident has really been an eye-opener as we are made to believe, we have to counter as responsible people who have opened our eyes wide open to the felonious cruelty around us. And we need to act too.



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Comment on this article


    Fri, Mar 08 2013

    I see people wishing everyone with Happy Women's Day, why not have a women's day everyday & make world a better place to live

    DisAgree [1] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • R.Bhandarkar, M'Lore

    Fri, Mar 08 2013

    Agree only in some places and more cases of late women have taken a beating...But in all other cases and places women rule the roost! Florine also does for sure!Men in most places have become experts at drafting 'Note For Approval's'only!Why highlight only tragedies when there is some much comedy regarding the 'hen pecked'?

    DisAgree [5] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

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