Rethinking societyHeadlines like these often appear in the papers: ‘Radha Chaudhary beaten on the accusation of witchcraft’, ‘6-year-old child raped’, and ‘Lalita Yadav thrown out by her own family for lack of dowry’. Society and the news highlight the victims but hide the perpetrators. This is the reason why the victims are more humiliated than the perpetrators. Likewise, females are frequently advised not to walk alone, go to unknown places or wear short skirts. The psychology of our society is focused on the victim and not the perpetrator.
Headlines like these often appear in the papers: ‘Radha Chaudhary beaten on the accusation of witchcraft’, ‘6-year-old child raped’, and ‘Lalita Yadav thrown out by her own family for lack of dowry’. Society and the news highlight the victims but hide the perpetrators. This is the reason why the victims are more humiliated than the perpetrators. Likewise, females are frequently advised not to walk alone, go to unknown places or wear short skirts. The psychology of our society is focused on the victim and not the perpetrator.
Surveys have demonstrated that most incidents of violence occur when the perpetrators are drunk. Furthermore, most of them are unemployed individuals, according to the National Institute of Justice and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (Unifem). Therefore, we must be aware of the social causes and psychology of the guilty in order to come up with a proper solution.
Society is skewed
We are treating violence against women as a problem of women, which is incorrect. Violence against women is also a men’s issue. We cannot treat gender equality as an issue of females only. Rather, it is an issue that concerns both genders. Another reason for violence against women is the assumption that women are economically weak. Males are seen as the breadwinners, but this is only half true. As per Unifem, if a woman’s household work is taken into account, the remuneration would be equivalent to $700-1,500 per month.
Another major problem is that we are trying to hide or run away from the unbearable and uncomfortable notion of women violence. Thus, very few cases are reported, and most of the time the charges are dropped. In the case of violence against women by the husband, it is taken as normal and society even asks the wife to cooperate.
However, daily violence and mental torture is not an ordinary misunderstanding between the husband and the wife, it is violence. Until we treat these problems as a violation of human rights, we will not be able to stop this inhuman culture.
Voices against violence against women must be raised everywhere. It must be discussed everywhere, from schools to Parliament. The government must act and take major steps to control violence against women. Let us declare 2075 BS as Women’s Year with the slogan ‘Zero tolerance for violence against women’. Our government must set up a hotline number to help women and establish a separate department to control violence against women.
Education as the bridge
Gender equity and the campaign against violence against women must be included in the primary school curriculum so that children can be educated about this issue from an early age. Self-defence training can also be imparted to girls and women.
A few years ago, Delhi High Court asked the state government to provide self-defence training in schools in response to an alarming rise in crimes against women.
Sex education must be provided to students when they are entering puberty so that sex will not be a matter of curiosity. Awareness programmes against violence against women must be conducted in the villages and highly susceptible areas and not limited to five-star hotels and event venues.
Also, we must involve males in such trainings and seminars. The guilty must be punished, and to achieve a higher rate of convictions against perpetrators, it is imperative to amend the prevailing laws. Equally important is their strict enforcement.
The chances of women who are educated and financially independent being a victim of violence are less. Therefore, women must be encouraged to participate in activities that empower them economically. Again, the government and society must recognise the financial value of household labour. They must promote home industries and other small-scale industries for women.
The bystander approach is a good approach to preventing sexual violence. We must train our society to participate and be a voice for women; it can no longer sweep the issue under the carpet. Our friends, neighbours and colleagues must take the side of the victim or the perpetrator.
For example, if a friend says something derogatory about a girl, we must interrupt him and correct him by saying, “You are not allowed to use such language when talking about women.” This kind of action will inhibit potential violence at the initial stage. Thus, our society itself will start to take leadership in the case of women violence.
Different studies have shown that a society having greater gender equity has happier families, and that even companies with more women leaders are more stable and progressive. Thus, gender equality is related with a happy family and prosperous society.
Therefore, gender equity and violence against women are not issues of women only. Women violence is not just violence against women, it is a violation of basic human rights. Therefore, men must take leadership in gender equity. Because gender equity is not a zero-sum game, it’s a win-win situation for both sexes.
Pandey is a central committee member of the Bibeksheel Sajha Party