Let’s get straight to the point: physical and sexual violence against Indian women is at an all-time high. According to My Choices Foundation’s Operation Peacemaker, “India is rated #4 in violence against women, but discrimination against women and girls throughout their life cycle makes it the most dangerous place on earth to be born a girl.”
We are the future, and it is our responsibility to make India a peaceful place for its women. Here’s what we can do to help make that happen:
1. Support Women Who Dare to Speak Up
Majority of the crimes against Indian women are committed by their husbands. More than 50% of Indian women suffer domestic violence, yet even today, our society believes they should grin and bear it to “save their marriage”.
Thus, women do not get the justice they deserve and continue to live a life of torment. This attitude needs to change – we need to support victims so they can break free from their abusers. And for those who are unable to talk about it, we need to recognise the signs of abuse, and then encourage them to fight back.
Pune-based writer Priyanka Menon (29) opines, “The Indian youth today needs to be made aware of the atrocities inflicted on women everywhere. We cannot raise our voice only when one of our own is a victim. The youth needs to become a collective voice, a collective movement that works towards the doing away of violence against women.
“Moreover, the immediate reaction when you hear of a case of violence against a woman is of disbelief and skepticism. While it is imperative to listen to both sides of the story, it is equally important that we do not dismiss the case completely. Sadly though, this is a common practice. We don’t immediately sympathise with the victim.”
2. Make Women Aware of Their Own Rights
Owing to the growing number of violent crimes we see in the news on a daily basis, we have become desensitised to and have even normalised violence against women. But is violence ever justified?
According to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) conducted in Odisha, 59.2% women think that wife-beating is justified when a woman refuses to have sex, doesn’t cook properly, neglects her house or children, goes out without informing in-laws, and even when her husband suspects that she is cheating on him.
Surprisingly, fewer men share this view: 40.8%. And it’s not just uneducated or unemployed women who feel this way – many are educated and working.
It’s a sad, baffling truth – women are their own worst enemies. We need to unlearn gender roles and internalised misogyny to become allies instead. And then, we need to know our legal rights so that we are equipped to fight for them.
3. Teach Men to See Women as Equals
Even today, boys and girls are raised differently: the former is taught to be dominating, while the latter is taught to be submissive. It’s high time we do away with gender bias and stereotypes and promote equality instead.
In particular, objectification needs to be replaced with respect. We need more organisations like the Equal Community Foundation to bring about true introspection and change in boys.
Silchar-based teacher Kabir Deb (24) says, “A woman is not just a figure which needs to be adored or used for having a physical relationship. If we rely on this aspect only, the violence against women will never come to an end. Think of a woman as someone with perspectives. Give her the same amount of love and respect as you give a man.”
It is only when we implement these changes and more on an individual and community level can we break this seemingly endless cycle of violence.
What do you think will put a stop to violence against women? Share your views in the comments below.
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Mahevash Shaikh is the twenty-something author of Busting Clichés. She loves to write, draw and laugh (among other things). You can find her using words and pictures to express herself and redefine the word "normal" at www.mahevashmuses.com.