Being born as a woman in India is quite a task. Why? Well, because at the first place selective abortion and female infanticide is the major issue. Most parents get aborted the female fetus in the womb after the fetal sex is determined. It’s prohibited in India to determine the sex of the baby before birth. We live in such a progressing country where the sex of the child to be kept secret because female infanticide could happen. We don’t allow a girl to come into life; we kill her before she’s even born. Right from the womb of a mother, we have authority over her life.
This has become a social norm in the society, men authorizing women and no one raising their voice against it. Surely, things are changing and women are coming out and making a mark in all fields. But as progressive as we have become still women are considered to be inferior, weak and fragile. We try to bring out such issues women are still facing in this modern world.
The disparity in education.
Education is very much essential to be it male or female. But the level of women education is very less compared to men. Female illiteracy is common in the rural area with a swashing 63% who remain unlettered. As per the census of 2011, an effective literacy rate for men was 82.14% whereas for women it was 65.46%. Sadly, a girl is not considered as of any use to the family right from the beginning. This negative attitude of parents towards their daughters result in affecting the girl’s life and her future remains in vain.
Female population in India constitutes up to 50% of the population but yet due to the lack of education, they cannot be part of the progress and development of the country. Though they don’t use their education to work, the total illiteracy will affect our society and will have a huge negative impact on our nation. Poverty is also the root cause for such thoughts hindering in people mind. The government has been trying to improve the situation by making primary education free. There is no easy accessibility to schools in rural places. Parents do not prefer to send their daughters for schooling at a distant place.
Lack of female teachers is another problem leading to disparity. India is a country with gender segregation and still in some remote places; people don’t encourage girls mingling with the opposite sex.
Measures to be taken.
It’s the responsibility of government to provide necessities to rural places. They need to work on the number and quality of the schools.
But we as the youth of India should take up the responsibility and work towards it. We need to work closely with organizations that promote education. We should create awareness among people in the importance of education. The government should take volunteers from colleges as students are more enthusiastic and they too will get a sense of responsibility.
The sole aim has to be making women understand and realize that education can end the different problems they go through in their life. Even in a case of any kind of misfortune, it’s the education that will help her to rise and nothing else. Let’s be a part to educate women and allow her to lead her life with pride.
I haven’t seen or heard of a girl who has not been a victim of eve-teasing- visually or verbally while she’s walking in a public place or travelling in the public transport system, girls have to go through this menace. Unfortunately, in many sequences, girls are blamed for provoking men with their dress and women being the victims are also blamed for the same. There are many instances where a girl is looked down and with the nasty comments and harassment which leads to serious psychological problems. Men cannot be solely blamed for the entire activities. This unkind behaviour is due to the sexist and patriarchal environment they are brought up in which eventually leads to having control over a women’s body, fertility and sexuality.
Eve teasing so far has been the worst issue faced by women. It is horrifying and disgusting practice especially in educational institutions and workplaces where more and more women are present. More protection is needed for women in such places. Many women have been carrying around carrying pins, chilli powder, pen-knives and even daggers to protect themselves. Self-defence classes have been incorporated in metropolitan cities. Women are encroached to protect from the demons of society. The main cause of eve-teasing is men treating women as objects but not as fellow humans.
The word eve-teasing is originated in India. Eve teasing is a euphemistic expression which describes women as eves, temptresses who provoke men into sexual titillation. Ironically, we are saying the victim is responsible for the cause. What is the whole point of education when we don’t teach our sons to respect women? Prolonged practice of eve-teasing leads to stalking and subsequently obsession. There is a serious issue to be looked upon and there are instances where stalking has led to rape and death of the victim as well. The Indian Law needs to lock this in the system.
Measures to be taken.
Before the law or dealing with society, firstly we women need to learn to stand for ourselves. If we can’t stand for ourselves then who else will? Instead of ignoring a nasty comment, stand up for yourself and speak looking straight into the offender’s eyes. Things will be much better if you phase out at early stages. We tend to ignore these small gestures as it doesn’t seem important. But you are encouraging the offender by doing so. Today it might be a small comment which gives him the strength and positive attitude to oppress women.
Secondly, we need to oppose such behaviour of men. The people shouldn’t turn a blind eye towards such an issue. There are cases where a girl seems helpless in spite of being in a public place surrounded by spectators when eve-teasing takes place. Don’t we hold responsibility on social issues? We need to fight against the offenders instead of turning a blind eye on the situation as it’s not concerned about us.
Lastly, educate men that women are not the substance of pleasure. Respect women and are equal, rightfully have the right to lead peace and calm life. It’s a women’s honour and dignity to eve-tease and no one has the right to violate physical privacy. The government needs to come up with laws to punish the offender severely as this is a serious and disgustful act violating women.
Sexual harassment has been recognized as the most intimidating and most violating form of violence since a very long time. Sexual harassment is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favours. Sexual harassment could take place anywhere, at any time, by anyone and in any form. It could happen in public places, school, educational institutes, workplace, even at home. Sexual harassment can be verbal (comments about your body, spreading sexual rumours, sexual remarks or accusations, dirty jokes or stories), physical (grabbing, rubbing, flashing or mooning, touching, pinching sexually, sexual assault) or visual (display of naked pictures or sex-related objects, obscene gestures). Sexual harassment can happen to girls and boys.
Sexual harassers can be fellow students, teachers, principals, janitors, coaches, and other school officials. The victims of sexual harassment are mostly girls/women. It indicates that it is not safe for girls to move out of their houses. They are harassed everywhere might be it an educational institute or workplace. Even age is not a concern. Either a little school going girl or a middle-aged lady all are same in the eyes of harassers. Harassers are just like hungry beasts who just want prey to satisfy their hunger.
Effects of sexual harassment can vary depending on the individual, and the severity and duration of the harassment. Often, sexual harassment incidents fall into the category of “merely annoying.” However, many situations can, and do, have life-altering effects particularly when they involve severe/chronic abuses, and/or retaliation against a victim who does not submit to the harassment, or who complains about it openly. Indeed, psychologists and social workers report that severe/chronic sexual harassment can have the same psychological effects as rape or sexual assault.
Measures to be taken.
Sexual harassment is illegal. If a girl is being harassed then she need not be afraid that try to fight against it and get the harasser punished. If she is being sexually harassed then she should tell someone who could help her. She could opt for the following steps:
- Say “No” Clearly: Tell the person who is harassing you that his/her behaviour offends you. They may not realize how hurtful their behaviour is and may need a clear message from you to stop.
- The complaint the Authority: A File a written or verbal complaint to the highest authority like the principal, teacher, manager, boss or your parents specifying the whole situation with accurate time and date. If possible, show the proofs, like a letter or any slip.
- File a Complaint with a Government Agency: In India, there are not many laws regarding the same. Those found guilty can be punished under section 294 and sec 509 of IPC. Recently, in 2006, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2006 has been passed. According to India’s constitution, sexual harassment infringes the fundamental right of a woman to gender equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India and her right to life and live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Even after so many efforts of the Government of India, the cases for sexual harassment have seen no decline. The people who are assigned for our help, that is the cops and Government employees, are now they are seen as harassers in many cases. The provisions contain several loopholes which can be exploited easily by the harasser in his favour. The provisions and laws need to be more comprehensive to provide a means of justice to those who have been victims and a means of protection for those who could be potential victims.
“Feminist icon Gloria Steinem offered a powerful reminder in an interview on NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ that is one of the most basic goals of the women’s rights movement – safety from violence – is still far from achieved”.
Unfortunately, women are still victims of domestic violence. Most women are not safe in their own home itself and she is more likely to be beaten or killed by a man she knows. The bursting effect of violence behind the closed doors is enormous among all age groups, class and clad. They are happening in a rural area, towns, and metropolitan cities. This torturous way of violence has been a legacy passed from one generation to another. This violence is towards someone we are related to, be it father, mother, brother, husband or any family member. The violence can escalate in many forms such as physical, sexual or emotional. We tend to come across a lot of atrocities being committed against women. This is again because of the poor mindset of people that women are weak- physically and emotionally. It’s high time that men wake up and come out from such stereotypical thoughts. Though there are an equal number of women (many are not recognized- the unsung achievers) who have achieved great heights in various fields compared to their male counterparts, women are considered weak in our society.
The most common causes that lead to domestic violence are- women choosing to go out and have a career, arguing with the partner, refusing to have sex with husband, dowry system, denying to have a child, not dressing ‘modestly’ etc. We live in a patriarchal society where a man can have a wife and a relationship outside the marriage because his sexual urges are entertained. On the contrary, if a woman is suspected to be malicious, she is outcasted by her family and society. Men fear that they will lose their respect and position if their spouse earns more than them. The number of violence is more concerning working women due to their long working hours and staying out during night hours. The inability of the woman to devote more time to her children is not accepted by society.
The effects of domestic violence against women are severe of her children as a child is more attached towards the mother. The child might face severe psychological problems in mere future. If this kind of scenario is happening every day since their childhood, it will result in a deeper effect and they might get used to such happenings and imprint the same in their lives.
Measures to be taken.
As expressed by Rebecca J. Burns in the following lines, “When I am asked why a woman doesn’t leave abuser I say: Women stay because the fear of leaving is greater than the fear of staying. They will leave when the fear of staying is greater than the fear of leaving.”
This holds to an Indian wife where she’s ready to bear the harassment she is subjected to from her husband and family. This leads to the fear of being rejected by society as well. Though women are educated enough, they fear such situations due to the traditional and orthodox mindset cult in their mind. A homemaker might feel she has nowhere to go if she decides to leave her husband as her parents too might not accept her. The same implies to a working woman as well as she is deprived of overall family and social support.
Firstly, we need to change our mindset and treat women as humans. No one has the right to abuse someone physically, verbally and emotionally. The government needs to bring up laws that enforce stringent action against the offender. In 1983, domestic violence was recognized as a specific criminal offence by the introduction of section 498-A into the Indian Penal Code. This section deals with cruelty by a husband or his family towards a married woman.
Police force plays a major role in handling a domestic violence case. A special training program needs to be induced to support government agencies and departments. There should be a separate wing of police dealing with women’s issues, attached to all police stations and should be excluded from any other duty.
The role of NGO’s is very much required and important to control domestic violence. It is through such organizations that we can educate and provide information about domestic violence. Sakshi — a violence intervention agency for women and children in Delhi works on cases of sexual assault, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse and domestic abuse and focuses on equality education for judges and implementation of the 1997 Supreme Court’s sexual harassment guidelines.
Marital Rape refers to unwanted intercourse by a man with his wife obtained by force, threat of force, or physical violence, or when she is unable to give consent. Marital rape could be by the use of force only, a battering rape or a sadistic/obsessive rape. It is a non-consensual act of violent perversion by a husband against the wife where she is physically and sexually abused.
Approximations have quoted that every 6 hours; a young married woman is burnt or beaten to death, or driven to suicide by emotional abuse by her husband. The UN Population Fund states that more than 2/3rds of married women in India, aged between 15 to 49 have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex. In 2005, 6787 cases were recorded of women murdered by their husbands or their husbands’ families. 56% of Indian women believed occasional wife-beating to be justified.
Marriages in India often not only gives the implied rights for the husband to have authority over his wife but it gives a consent to sexually abuse her. Marriage in India is, in addition to other things, it is a sexual contract since it gives the man inferred agrees to sex in interminability. It strengthens the man’s “possession” rights over the spouse. This denies the lady any rights over her own body. Declining to criminalize conjugal assault is to acknowledge that sexual pressure against a lady, as much as it is inside a marriage, will be embraced by both government and society. If ladies are to wrest control of their lives, they need to have the privilege to say no to their spouses without being socially punished for it. The myth of the ‘wifely obligation’ and the ‘matrimonial right’ should end because conjugal sex, like all sex, must be with shared assent and joy.
The wife was essentially seen as the property of the husband, to do as he pleased with her. The vestiges of this mindset can be seen in the exception provided to marital rape, as well as the Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to adultery. This section reads like a property offence more than anything else, with its emphasis on the consent of the husband, and the fact that only a man who has sexual intercourse with a married woman can be prosecuted for adultery under it. In the US, spousal rape is illegal throughout the country. The criminalization of marital rape is fast becoming the norm in the world, with many Latin American, South East Asia, European Countries, and African Countries passing laws to this effect.
Measures to be taken.
Marital rape is so destructive because it betrays the fundamental basis of the marital relationship because it questions every understanding you have not only of your partner and the marriage but of yourself. You end up feeling betrayed, humiliated and, above all, very confused.
“When it is the person you have entrusted your life to who rapes you, it isn’t just physical or sexual assault, it is a betrayal of the very core of your marriage, of your person, of your trust.”
There must be more awareness among women and capacity building is the need of the hour. Societal stigmatization and the chauvinistic attitude of the people should change. Rape is rape and marriage cannot be an excuse for committing such a heinous offence. The first step to stop such an offence is to empower and educate the women to stand up against such inhumane acts would abolish the existing marital rape exemption. It is the time that women should start raising voice against such injustice.
“A women with a voice is by definition is a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.”- Melinda Gates
An honour killing is the homicide of an individual from a family or social gathering by different individuals, because of the conviction of the culprits that the casualty has brought disrespect upon the family or group. Honour killings are coordinated for the most part against women and young girls. The apparent disrespect is regularly the consequence of one of the accompanying practices, or the suspicion of such practices:
- Dressing in a manner unacceptable to the family or community.
- Wanting to terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or desiring from marrying by own choice.
- Engaging in heterosexual sexual acts outside marriage, or even due to a non-sexual relationship perceived as inappropriate.
- Engaging in homosexual acts. Women and girls are killed at a much higher rate than men.
What makes people kill their daughter, sister, wife to protect their honour? Why would people commit such a heinous act to protect their family honour? Does honour hold such a high position in our country that if we don’t preserve it, death is the ultimate solution? These are few questions wandering in our mind. But have we found the answer for the same?
Usually, honour killing happens when a woman decides to marry off her choice against her parents wish. Sometimes caste plays a crucial role in such cases. Though we are a progressing country, marrying someone out of the same caste is not acceptable especially in rural areas which lead to honour killing. Now, there are various reasons why people or family members decide to kill the daughter in the name of preserving their family honour. The most obvious reason for this practice to continue in India, albeit, at a much faster and almost daily basis, is because the caste system continues to be at its rigid best and also because people from the rural areas refuse to change their attitude to marriage.
Another reason that leads to honour killing is if a woman is not dressed modestly, she is awarded to death. The idea of modest clothing is very confusing and perhaps a controversial topic. Amidst the patriarchal society and upbringing, we accept our daughters to dress in a certain way so they won’t provoke men. On the contrary, men are allowed to wear what they want and if a man commits rape and even kills her, it is considered as a girl’s fault. The first question thrown upon her parents is- why was she dressed inappropriately.
Measures to be taken.
As we all know that we don’t have any codified law on ‘honour killing.’ But alarmed by the rise of honour killings, the Government is planning to bring a bill in the session of Parliament (2010) to provide for deterrent punishment for ‘honour’ killings. Chidambaram asserted, “The vilest crimes are committed in the name of defending the honour of the family or women. Whoever is the cause of the crime, an individual or a collective, must be punished. I must ensure that laws adopted by Parliament are obeyed and enforced. Once the law is made, it must be enforced.”
- A strict law should be made and implemented at the same time to protect women of our country from such deaths that are not called for.
- Enforcement of harsh punishments should be there against anyone practising this act.
- Awareness should be created in minds of people, passing on a message that there is no honour in the honour killing.
- Education should be provided especially to people living in the rural parts of the country regarding this issue.
- Protection should be made available to women who fear of being killed.
Honour killing is done for saving the honour of the family. But there is no such honour in killing any person. ‘Religion’ and ‘culture’ cannot and must not be invoked as the excuse for the killing of women because religion and the laws which derive from it are always subjective interpretations. No ‘culture’ has the right to kill and harm women based on their perceptions of morality or honour. The freedom of belief does not mean freedom to kill. Everyone has a right to life with full dignity and equality. Hence active laws are the only antidote to such dishonourable practices.
Surely, being born as a girl in India is a burden. Though things are changing slowly there still exists harsh practices that are the hazardous and heinous act that brings down the dignity of women. There are a set of women who are sidelined from our society and awarded disrespect and ill-treated even in the 21st century. Widows are considered to be unlucky and are also blamed for their husband’s death. Is Death inevitable, right? But we blame women for the misfortune death of her husband. Divorced women are looked down in our society. Is it not better to end a relationship if either person is unhappy? Acid attack and rape victims are alienated from society. Why are women blamed for a man’s chauvinistic behaviour? There is ‘n’ number of problems a girl faces. A man decides her birth and even death at times. The patriarchal thoughts have to be eliminated and we need to educate our society to treat men and women equally. Education on Gender equality is more important.
“Teach your daughters to be brave, not perfect.”