-Dr. S. Vijay Kumar
“Yathra nariyasthu pujyathe ramanthe thathra devathaha“, the meaning this Sanskrit shloka is, where women are respected, there angels will reside. Thus, it is known that in the olden days (Age of Vedas) women were given high status and great respect and freedom in the society. "Shakti" a feminine term means "power" and "strength". But, today if we tune to radio, TV or turn to any newspaper we find several reports of violence against women, girls and children in one form of or other. There are more such cases which go unreported every day. In fact, include the cases which we know or which we witness in the neighborhood, but we are hesitant in taking even a single step to reduce their occurrences. “A Woman brought you into this world, so you have no right to disrespect her”. In India there is a crime against women in every three minutes, one rape every twenty nine minutes and one recorded case of dowry death in every seventy seven minutes. Cases of cruelty meted out by husbands and in laws are seen in every nine minutes. Patriarchal terrorism where one partner uses economic and social power to maintain control over another human is very common in India and other Asian countries due to the subservient status of women. As said by Karl Marx “Women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness.” Swami Vivekananda has rightly pointed out that “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved”. And “Women will work out their destinies – much better too than men can ever do for them. All the mischief to women has come because men undertook to shape the destiny of women.” Power of the harasser, abuser or rapists depends above all on the silence of women.
The United Nations defines violence against women as “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”. The present paper gives a broad overview of various issues and challenges of domestic violence against women particularly in Indian the context.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 says that any act, conduct, omission or commission that harms or injures or has the potential to harm or injure will be considered domestic violence by the law. Even a single act of omission or commission may constitute domestic violence - in other words, women do not have to suffer a prolonged period of abuse before taking recourse to law. The law covers children also. Domestic violence is perpetrated by, and on, both men and women. However, most commonly, the victims are women, especially in our country. Even in the United States, it has been reported that 85% of all violent crime experienced by women are cases of intimate partner violence, compared to 3% of violent crimes experienced by men. Thus, domestic violence in Indian context mostly refers to domestic violence against women.
Violence against women a global phenomenon:
1. Globally the most common form of violence experienced by women is physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner. One in three women have been abused or subjected to gender-based violence in their lives.
2. In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
3. Up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime — the majority by husbands, intimate partners or someone they know.
4. Both intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women are major public health problems and violations of women’s human rights.
5. Worldwide, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16.
6. As many as 1 in 4 women experience physical and/or sexual violence during pregnancy which increases the likelihood of having a miscarriage, still birth and abortion.
7. Every year 5,000 women are murdered by their relatives to protect the “honour” of the family.
8. Women and girls are still being forced into marriages against their will, particularly in Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Over 60 million girls worldwide married before the age of 18 primarily in South Asia (31.3 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million).
9. Women who are beaten by their partners are 48 per cent more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS.
10. 2.5 million People are trafficked annually into situations including prostitution, forced labour, slavery or servitude. Women and girls account for about 80 per cent of the detected victims.
In the past:
Culture outlook and historical perspective of society always reflects in present-day behavioral pattern of a society. In the past, 6th -7th century onwards, due to continuous foreign invasions on the country, women’s position in the society had worsened.
Basic human rights denied – Slave like condition and inhuman treatment to women had become a common practice. Basic human rights were denied to women during this period. Seventh century onwards, Muslim and British attacks had given birth to many social evils like child-marriage, Sati, ‘Purdah-system, complete segregation of women from outside world. Restrictions were imposed on women-movements.
Constitution of India has guaranteed equal protection for all its citizens irrespective of gender. Several legislative interventions to protect and deal with special crimes against women have also been framed over the years. Domestic violence and collective forms of violence like communal or caste violence, targeting women have also been acknowledged as serious crimes.
Many institutional mechanisms have been created like National and State Commissions for women. Government and NGO’s are continuously working for empowerment and emancipation of women. India is also a signatory to several international conventions that protect the rights of women.
Slow but steady Progress – Modern women have come out of their protective shell – four-walls of the house. They are trying their best to restore lost prestige and secure due place in modern world. They have marched ahead, though slowly but steadily with tremendous self-confidence and inner strength. They are actively participating in nation-building activities and have paved way even into the precincts, which have been considered as an exclusive male preserve. Their entry there is resented by some persons, but women are facing it bravely. They work very hard to prove their worth and make their presence felt.
Position still not very satisfactory – Position of women remains pathetic despite all efforts of governmental and non-governmental agencies after the independence. Only a small number of women could come up, that too in big towns with access to modern education and limited employment opportunities. Conceptualization of man-woman relationships and their representation in institutions like family, community, religious agencies, state, educational institutions etc. are still focused on physical weakness of woman.
Secondary position in the society – Women are still accorded secondary position in the society. Credit of their contributions goes to society, nation or to their male counter-parts, who have retained power, prestige and pleasures of the world leaving women remain ignorant, illiterate and ill-informed, invisible and unrewarded.
Violence against women includes, but is not limited to:
1. Gender-based violence
2. Rape, marital rape and incest
3. Murder and assault including dowry-related violence and honour killings
4. Forced marriage
5. Female genital mutilation
6. Human trafficking including cross-border prostitution rings and bride kidnappings
7. War crimes including rape as a weapon of war
Violence crosses all borders, age, castes, classes and communities:
Growing number of crimes like molestation, rape, torture and murder for dowry, sexual harassment at workplace, trafficking and girl child-abuse indicates that violence and discrimination against women is on rise over the years. It is an issue that crosses all borders, age, castes, classes and communities – be it a girl child, a married woman, a single woman, a working woman, refugees or women belonging to lower strata of society living in urban or rural areas. Women suffer from multiple forms of violence whether it is within the four-walls of house or in public places or work-place.
Family provides proper safety-net for girls and women. Indian women find in family/marriage some rights and security. They prefer to depend on their male members for financial and safety measures. Emotional and financial dependence of women gives birth to egoistic tendencies in men with negative mindset. They start imposing their decisions on wife and other female members of the family.
Age-old shackles have curbed their freedom. In her journey from ‘womb to tomb’, a woman suffers from social discrimination and evil social practices within family at some point or the other. Feticide, infanticide, discrimination against girl-child in matter of nutrition, education, physical assaults, dowry, ill-treatment at in-law’s place, bride burning, Sati, apathy towards widows and old women, no freedom to take her decisions, unequal and improper property rights, are a few examples. The list is endless.
Outside home – Outside home also, women suffer because of lesser job opportunities, unequal treatment of employers/seniors at work-place, trafficking physical assaults etc. Lack of education and skill-forming training tends many females to work as marginal labor in unorganized sector, where they get meager wages and are exploited. Increased discriminatory practices have adversely affected their day today’s life.
Working women - Work-load at domestic as well as at work-place and strain of keeping with times and societal yardsticks are putting increasing pressure on women in absence of strong family bonds and traditional support systems. Pregnant women/new mothers are at disadvantage, while being considered for promotion/important assignments. Employers hesitate to hire young women fearing potential pregnancy. They fall much behind their male counter-parts after marriage due to familial responsibilities. Many women drop out to raise children and other familial liabilities.
Urban women – A majority of urban women suffer due to illiteracy or lack of formal skill- building training. They mostly work as domestic helps. Economic pressures on nucleus families, culture of two-income families and withering away of traditional family support-systems, deteriorating value-system adds to their miseries. Fast developments in the world materialism and consumerism have put great pressure on urban women.
Rural women – Rural unskilled women mostly suffers because of illiteracy, poverty and unemployment. Poverty frequently pushes unemployed men to leave their families behind and go to distant places in search of jobs. In about 30% to 35% rural households, women are sole breadwinner bearing alone the responsibility to raise children and run the household. They usually work in fields, where they are monetarily and physically exploited. Rural women suffer more than urban women in three critical areas:
1. Lack of sound education and skill-generating learning.
2. Health issues.
3. Inaccessibility of proper credit resources.
Women of privileged class – Women of privileged class are under social and religious restrictions than under-privileged class. They usually fall victim to social evils like infanticide, dowry, Purdah, Sati, inhuman treatment to widows (young or old) especially in Northern India, Bengal and Rajasthan or polygamy (mostly in southern part of India).
Women of sub-merged section of society – Women of backward section have greater laxity and freedom than advanced section of society. They exercise more freedom in their day-today-life. ‘Purdah system’ has never been a common practice in rural areas. Divorce-remarriage has been common practice among them for a long time.
They fall victim of abuse, harassment, humiliation and exploitation, sometimes because of the laziness, alcoholism, vices, helplessness of their men-folk, who fail to rescue their women from the hands of exploiters and sometimes women’s own lack of courage to face situation. Wife beating, desertions, polygamy are the common practices amongst them. They usually suffer due to -
1. Class oppression due to poverty,
2. Caste oppression due to inter caste clashes,
3. And Gender oppression.
Alcoholism – When drunk, men vent out their frustrations on their women – beating their spouses mercilessly, create unwanted scenes, neglect their families, snatch money, and sell household items to satisfy their craving for liquor.
Women worst sufferer during emergency – Adversities of life arising out of economic-crisis, social, psychological and environmental adverse situations affect women’s world the most. During war- times, riots, unstable economy, natural calamities and infighting or inter-group or intra-group clashes, women along-with children are the primary victims and are worst hit.
Problems with educated and uneducated women – Brutality of negative mindset persons does neither spare educated women nor uneducated ones. When a woman tries to break age-old social barriers, gets education to standup on her feet and live on her own terms, deteriorated law and order conditions do not spare them. Illiterate becomes victim of child-marriage and domestic violence.
It is difficult to assess the causes and solutions to women’s issues in a vast country like India, where diversity exists from place to place in customs, traditions and way-of -living. Problem of safety and security of women persists in a big way all over. Gender violence is continuously on rise and political apathy persists more than yester years. Unfortunately in many cases of humiliation, assaults and insults, own family-members or known-people are responsible. Government and civil society has failed to bring a change towards a more gender-just society.
Deep entrenched discrimination and oppression of Women:
Manifestation of persisting gender bias can be seen in sex ratio (the number of females per 1,000 males) for the 0-6 age group has dramatically dropped to 914 in 2011, from 927 in 2001 and the crime-rate against women up (as reported by National Crime Records Bureau, NCRB) from 8.8% in 2007 to 9.4 during 2011. (Leaving aside innumerable unreported-cases) Times of India (August 25, 2013, p.6) reports crime against women up by 7.1% since 2010.
UNICEF Reports on Progress of Nations released jointly by Government of India and UNICEF says that more than 60 million women, who should have been alive today, are missing. Responsible factors are from feticide to domestic violence to dowry deaths to physical assaults. Discrimination starts even before women are born and continue till they die. It exists in the form of -
Feticide – Some new forms of violence have appeared with technological advances as is evident in case of female feticide, reflecting in adverse sex-ratio. Social bias in favor of a male-child lead to abortions (out of 8000 cases of abortions following sex-determination tests, 7999 are female fetus, according to a Survey) Sex-ratio is continuously declining allover India except for Kerala. Inefficient and ineffective performance of political, administrative and economic structures and mechanisms failed to stop it.
Infanticide – Thousands of newly born baby-girls die with overdoses of opium. They are abandoned or thrown in rivers or dust bins to die. Out of abandoned children 90% are girls.
Health hazards - According to official figures, there is 10% higher mortality rate for girls than boys due to mal-nutrition in infancy and childhood. Health Statistics are equally alarming with 80% of them being anemic.
Physical assaults/Rapes/gang-rapes/molestations – According to a Report, there are reported cases of one rape every 54 minutes, a molestation every 26 minutes; and an act of cruelty every 33 minutes. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistic says – every 20 minutes, a woman is raped somewhere in India, not to mention the countless number of cases of molestations or rapes going unreported. Child rape cases have increased by 336% in the last 10 years. Government data shows crimes by juveniles – especially rape and abduction of women – has seen exponential rise in the past decade – from 48.7% in 2002 to 66.5 in 1212. There is dire need to address the issue of rape in a more powerful manner.
Dowry deaths – Number of dowry-deaths is quite alarming in the country – a dowry death every one hour forty two minutes. Dowry-related violence is also in increase. Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan are the states with maximum number of reported cases. Many cases remain unreported.
Victims of materialistic-culture - Consumerist culture has triggered off increased atrocities, domestic violence and physical assaults on women. Millions of girls live under threat of physical abuse.
Female literacy rate – Male-female literacy-rate is 82.14% to 65.46% according to 2011 census. Employment ratio in organized and unorganized sectors also points out discrimination against women in job-market.
Wake up call – The most inhuman and brutal gang-rape of an innocent girl ‘Nirbhaya’s’, in a moving bus on the busy roads of Delhi on 16th December 2012 had woken-up people from their deep slumber and contributed immensely in igniting the dormant fire within the hearts of conscientious people. It had triggered an unprecedented reaction, ignited suppressed emotions of common-men. Youth’s anguish was amply reflected in mass-scale protests and agitations allover India.
Reasons for alarming rise – There is an alarming rise in acts of perverted behavior. The Beijing Conference in September 1995 identified the following reasons: -
1. Persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women
2. Unequal access to education;
3. Inequalities in health care services;
4. Violence against women;
5. Effects of armed conflict on women;
6. Inadequate access to direct participation in the economy and policy making processes in a country;
7. Inequality in sharing power and decision making;
8. In-sufficient mechanism to promote the advancement of women;
9. Lack of commitment to women’s human rights;
10. In-sufficient mobilization of mass-media;
11. Lack of support for women’s contribution to manage the environment;
Other reasons behind the violence against women in India are –
1. Increasing number of broken families, growing uncompromising disputes/differences/disharmony among family members.
2. Alcoholism and influence of movies leading weak personalities has led to alarming rise in acts of perverted behavior – like rape of daughter by father, rape of little girls, passing lewd remarks on girls in public places, etc.
3. Deteriorating law and order situation,
4. Fall of moral values.
5. Intolerance amongst youth,
6. Ineffective implementation of existing rules and regulations made to protect women from violence,
7. Inadequacy of ill-equipped, insensitive, understaffed police and investigative machinery,
8. A number of government mandated commissions including the National Commission of Women (NCW) and Law Commission existing without teeth,
9. Lack of political will to overhaul Indian Penal Code (section 354), Indian Evidence Act and Code of Criminal Procedure.
Will more stringent laws? – Some people demand new stringent laws, legislative reforms and some demand amendment in existing laws relating to gender issues. Others fear that strong laws are more prone to be misused. There will be surge in filing false cases. More than enacting new stringent laws or legislative reforms or amendment in laws, the country needs to stop half-hearted enforcement of already existent laws and implement them sincerely, honestly and effectively. Accountability of law enforcement agencies would curb gender-violence to a great extent.
How much education or financial Independence can help? – Question arises – Will education or financial independence of women curb gender oppression? May be! However, real life experiences do not support.
Education alone, not enough – Education alone is not good enough for sustainable development of women-folk. Education raises intellectual level, but it does not necessarily make women more comfortable responsible, cultured and civilized. Restraint, self-discipline and rational thinking are also required. Only quality of education right from the childhood could cultivate much-needed human values and spirit of civility.
Financial Independence – Employment makes women economically strong, but socially and emotionally broken, especially, when children become irritant or in-disciplined. After long hours in offices, working women hardly get enough time to deal with domestic chores and attend to handle children properly during their tender age.
Life full of tensions – With dual income, working women shoulder dual responsibilities – at home and at workplace. Employment increases their workload and makes life tougher/stressful/tense than home-makers. Ambition, tough competition at work-place and fewer opportunities for career progression adds fuel into fire. Saving remains zero after spending on necessary arrangements and domestic helps.
Remove internal contradictions - India has to get rid of its internal contradictions – between prosperity and poverty, between plenty of resource endowments and scarcity of their management, between its culture of peace and tolerance and its conduct sliding towards violence, intolerance and discrimination. Its inputs can be kept at international levels, only if government can address to real basic issues, not the abstract ones. Half-hearted measures taken by state authority touches only the periphery of gender-issues.
Comments of a prominent jurist – A prominent jurist commented on the current situation of rising acts of criminality and violence as: “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.”
“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.”
Domestic violence has a significant impact on the health and well-being of women both in the immediate and longer term, continuing even after the relationship has ended. The psychological consequences of violence can be as serious as the physical effects. Exposure to violence leads to poorer physical health overall compared with women who have not experienced violence and it increases the risk of women developing a range of health problems (World Health Organization 2000). One Australian study found intimate partner violence was the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15 to 44 (Vic Health 2004).
Some immediate health impacts may include:
1. Physical injuries - such as cuts, scrapes and bruises, fractures, dislocated bones
2. Hearing loss
3. Vision loss
4. Miscarriage or early delivery
5. Sexually transmitted diseases
6. Knife wounds
7. Gunshot wounds
Longer term health impacts may include:
1. Gastrointestinal disorders associated with stress
3. Back pain
6. Gynecological problems
9. Eating disorders
10. Post traumatic stress disorder
11. Sleep disturbances
12. Alcohol and substance misuse
13. Smoking throughout pregnancy
There are varied consequences of domestic violence depending on the victim, the age group, the intensity of the violence and frequency of the torment they are subjected to. Living under a constant fear, threat and humiliation are some of the feelings developed in the minds of the victims as a consequence of an atrocious violence. The consequences of the domestic violence in detail can be broadly categorized under – the Effect on the victim himself/herself and the family , Effect on the society and the Effect on nation’s growth and productivity. The ‘Effect on the victim’ has been further subcategorized for women, men, children and old.
Impact on the victim and the family:
Battered women have tendency to remain quiet, agonized and emotionally disturbed after the occurrence of the torment. A psychological set back and trauma because of domestic violence affects women’s productivity in all forms of life. The suicide case of such victimized women is also a deadly consequence and the number of such cases is increasing.
A working Indian woman may drop out from work place because of the ill-treatment at home or office, she may lose her inefficiency in work. Her health may deteriorate if she is not well physically and mentally. Some women leave their home immediately after first few atrocious attacks and try to become self-dependent. Their survival becomes difficult and painful when they have to work hard for earning two meals a day. Many such women come under rescue of women welfare organizations like Women Welfare Association of India (WWAI), Affus Woman Welfare Association (AWWA) and Woman’s Emancipation and Development Trust (WEDT). Some of them who leave their homes are forcefully involved in women trafficking and pornography. This results in acquiring a higher risk of becoming a drug addict and suffering from HIV/AIDS. Some of course do it by their choice.
One of the severe effects of domestic violence against women is its effect on her children. It is nature’s phenomenon that a child generally has a greater attachment towards the mother for she is the one who gives birth. As long as the violence subjected to the mother is hidden from the child, he/she may behave normally at home. The day when mother’s grief and suffering is revealed, a child may become upset about the happening deeply. Children may not even comprehend the severity of the problem. It’s common in especially in rural homes in India which are victimized by the evil of domestic violence.
In cases of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), violence against women leads them to maintain a distance from their partner. Their sexual life is affected adversely. Many of them file for divorce and seek separation which again affects the life of children. Some continue to be exploited in lack of proper awareness of human rights and laws of the constitution.
Impact of Domestic Violence on the society:
All the different forms of violence discussed in this essay adversely affect the society. Violence against women may keep them locked in homes succumbing to the torture they face. If they come out in open and reveal the wrong done to them for help and rescue, it influences the society both positively and negatively. At one hand where it acts as an inspiration and ray of hope for other suffering women, on the other hand it also spoils the atmosphere of the society. When something of this kind happens in the society, few families may witness the evil of domestic violence knocking their door steps. Some families try to imitate what others indulge in irrespective of it being good or bad for the family.
Impact on the productivity:
As mentioned earlier, domestic violence affects the productivity level of the victim negatively. Men and women lose interest in household activities. If they are employed they fail to work with full capabilities in workplace. Children are found to concentrate less on studies. They drop out of school and do not get the education which otherwise they might have got if they were not tormented and thus the country loses a productive asset. Therefore, the nation’s productivity altogether gets affected because of domestic violence in homes. People need to spend their part of income for medication when they are met with worse forms of domestic violence which again leads to loss in productive use of a family’s income. The cumulative effect of the domestic violence at all levels and across all regions is the country’s hindered development and slow economic growth.
Intervention and action at multiple levels:
Efforts done so far on gender issue defy basic and simple solutions. Elimination of all kinds of violence against women requires channelizing simultaneously the attention and efforts of all the concerned people and work together. This sensitive issue needs intervention and action at multiple levels – state, society and individuals in public and private capacities.
At government’ level:
Amongst immediate steps, the most important task of government is to arrest continuously deteriorating law and order situation. There should be vigilant policing round the clock both in cities and suburban areas and more women police officers in all police stations.
Speedy and time-bound justice is needed urgently. Delayed justice emboldens the spirits of criminal-minded elements in society, who take advantage of loopholes in law, and which enables them to escape. Many culprits go off 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, but it may take a longer time.
At Society’s level:
Inculcation human values – The focus of the society should be on finding out root causes of the problems related to various women-issues in different places. Values and social practices may differ from one group of people to another and from region to region, but human values remains the same.
Change in the mind-set – Gender sensitization is the need of the time. The attitude of conservative patriarchal society, which looks upon women as second-grade citizens – inferior to men, should be changed. A radical change in the mind-set of people is necessary to give women their rightful place in society without any gender-discrimination. People must be sensitized to treat women in a manner befitting the role played by them as loving and caring mothers, affectionate sisters, cute daughters and good companions. There is dire need to focus the attention of society on social, educational, economic, health and legal needs of women.
Under the inspiring guidance of many women leaders and social reformers, the movement for women’s emancipation is gaining momentum.
Role of Non-Governmental Institutions/Organizations:
Non-governmental organizations and institutions should conduct series of seminars, workshops meetings at different places on various aspects of violence/oppression against women. They should discuss in depth the gravity, enormity and dangers of continuously deteriorating law and order position, deteriorating human values, self-centered attitude of individuals and alarming rise in bestial acts against women, which makes it very unsafe for women to move freely outside their homes and try to find out remedy for it.
Media should bring women issues to public domain in a forceful manner. They can play an important role in spreading awareness. They can provide a platform to speakers and panelists from different fields, eminent personalities responsible for decision-making to share their views and conduct an in-depth study on various gender issues, and view it holistically touching various aspects of the problem. Views of some of the victims of atrocities should also be taken to understand their unpleasant experiences and the manner in which they came over the agonies they suffered because of inhuman acts.
At family’s level:
Family and “Home, sweet home” is the first and foremost institution, where children learn first lesson of humanity and social relationships. Family is the best place to inculcate positive values – like honesty, simplicity, modesty, sense of responsibility and respect for elders – amongst children and youth of both the sexes.
Childhood is the most formative, educative and impressionable time in a human’s life and most appropriate time for inculcation of such values, as it remains permanently and firmly embedded in their delicate psyche throughout their life.
There is something fundamentally wrong in the way, younger generation especially boys are brought up within modern families. Inculcation of positive values would go a long way in creating an atmosphere, wherein women can move around freely in society without any fear whatsoever. Training for gender sensitization should be imparted within the family. Right from the beginning, all the children should be treated equally, without any gender-bias.
It is important to teach boys not to treat women inhumanely or as commodity or personal property, but to treat all them with respect, so that when they grow up they develop a protective attitude towards women. Real strength of manhood lies in treating women with gentleness, respect and in protecting women’s dignity and honor. Treating women inhumanly is not Indian culture. It shows inherent weakness of men.
On women’ part:
Women can contribute a lot in creating a cultured prosperous society and bringing about much desired social re-awakening. They, 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; create awareness amongst women about their rights and channelize their efforts by writing articles, organizing seminars, workshops etc.
Irrespective of their social status in society, they should join hands, and work in a spirit of unity. They should raise their voice boldly against social evils like dowry, bride-burning, female infanticide, etc.
Women should share their experiences with one another – be it a conference, a home-party or a ladies’ meeting – how they are being discriminated against in different walks of life and how they should tackle situation. 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.
Women should exercise utmost vigilance both at the mental and physical level to ensure their safety and security, so that no one could exploit them when placed under adverse circumstances in life. They must always be prepared for self- defense by getting training in Karate etc.
There is tremendous scope to work for them – be it is within family or in the areas of reforms social, economic practices, in education and training or spreading awareness in women of weaker sections to cope-up with new developments.
How to deal with the problem? Core Committees
In a vast country like India, where so much of diversity exists in customs, traditions and way of living, the causes and the solutions to women’s problems differ from place to place. For dealing them effectively -
Core Committees should be formed at local level involving experts, contentious citizens, young boys and girls with a purpose to spread awareness, inculcate positive values amongst people of all ages; help victimized women, give new suggestions to curb crimes. After all ‘prevention is better than cure’; continuously evaluate/monitor the progress and plan for better future.
Bring three generations together – For proper upbringing of children and inculcating spirit of tolerance and good values in younger generations, living of three generations under one roof should be encouraged. It will make people to understand the feelings, needs and problems of each-other. It will also reduce the generation gap and bring elders, youth and children closer.
Safe and secure place to stay – There is a need to make proper and enough arrangements for safe and secure place of stay (hostels) for girl-students and working women, who have go away from their homes and live alone in different new unknown places to pursue their studies or work in offices.
Rehabilitation of victimized – Proper arrangements like short-stay/shelter-homes, family counseling centers should be made for protection and rehabilitation of victimized women or women in distress.
In recent times, Indian society is passing through a very difficult phase when human values have reached an abysmally low level. Constantly deteriorating condition of law and order situation has added fuel into the fire making life of women miserable. Common-men demand effective Government action and sincere implementation of the laws along with swift justice to curb the increasing violence against women/girl-child. India needs to change people’s perception/mindset about women’s fundamental rights for justice, safety, security, equality and freedom. It should never ever be forgotten that woman is a source of immense power. Without women, men-world stands no-where. It is the Woman, who is the creator of a new life, sustainer and educator of the new generation. It is also the woman, who comes in man’s world with color and pleasure as a loving and caring mother, affectionate sister, cute daughter and compatible companion. 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), ‘Sarasvati’ (Goddess of knowledge) and ‘Durga’ (Goddess of Power). Domestic violence against women prevails because we allow it. Speak up. Stop the Silence. Each of our effort counts and let this rage of violence end once and for all.
It is the appropriate to conclude this paper with an ancient Sanskrit Shloka (poem) which tells about model couples
Laxmi Naraayanau -GouriSankarou Bharathi Vidhi
Chaaya Suryaou –Rohinidu –Raxetham Cha Vadhuvarou
There are five types of couples in the world:
Laxmi stays in the heart of Visnhu- heart and thoughts must be one and same
Gouri is the half body of Siva – thoughts and execution of actions are same
Sarasvthi resides at the tongue of Brahma: speech and meaning must be one and same
Chaya (shade) follows Sun: sun is very ferocious but his wife Chaya is very calm
Rohini is very hot and but her husband moon is very cool.
These five types of couples lead their lives with great pleasure and peace with prosperity
United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, 1993
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