Violence on Women Must Stop!

Violence on Women Must Stop!
Safety is our Right!!

On 29th December, 2012, the brave and courageous survivor of the Delhi gangrape case
breathed her last. The brutal assault on her, her fight to live, and her death, has shaken the

conscience of the entire nation. Tens of thousands of young men and women spontaneously
came out on the streets in nearly every city and town in the country to voice their protest
against the increasing violence on women in the country.

In yet another proof of the apathy of our political class and the insensitivity of the police
force to crimes against women, the police used water cannons, tear gas, and lathi-charged the
protestors who had assembled at India Gate in Delhi; and then sealed off the heart of the

capital to prevent people from protesting.

The main issue in all these protests has been the dismal law and order situation in the
country. The debate has become focussed on modifying our laws, harsh sentencing for

rapists, fast-track courts, police reforms, etc. However, even as thousands of people were
protesting on the streets, the police moved to take speedy action against the accused, the
government quickly set up a fast-track court to try them, and it is clear that the rapists will

soon be given stiff punishment, despite all these measures, there are no signs that the number
of rapes is coming down, that women are becoming any more safer in the country. In the two
weeks since the brutal rape incident in Delhi took place, not a day has passed without the

newspapers reporting at least half a dozen new incidences of rapes of women, from girls as
young as 6 to women aged 78.

While rape is an extreme form of violence against women, women are subjected to several

other forms of violence. Passing of lewd comments, ‘touching’ women’s bodies, making
obscene gestures, or just staring hungrily at a girl’s body – all these acts are also forms of
violence against women, which violate their dignity, injure their spirit, and undermine their

self-confidence. And then, women are subjected to physical violence and even rape within
the family; abandoned for not giving birth to a male child; illtreated as widows; sold off to
pay family debts; abducted and forced into prostitution; killed in the womb, or murdered

just after birth…

At the root of all this violence against women is the patriarchal social system, wherein
women are not just considered to be secondary to men, but as an inferior species; whose
main job is to look after the household; and whose body is a mere means for continuing the

family lineage. It is therefore an inherent value of this patriarchal system that men can
commit violence on women.

Unfortunately, women themselves become as wedded to patriarchal thinking as men.
Right from birth, the social system drills this mode of thinking into their heads, so that they

come to regard men as superior to them, consider themselves to be dependent on
fathers/husbands/sons, and so undertake fasts for men, wear mangalsutras, and perform
rituals to be blessed with a male child.

This secondary position of women due to patriarchy is being made worse by capitalist

globalisation, which is transforming everything, from seeds and water, to land and rivers and
mountains, to education and health, into commodities for corporate profits. And so, even a
woman’s body has become a commodity; women are portrayed as sexual objects, meant to

attract attention, and are used for selling everything from cars to shaving creams and body
sprays. An even more vulgar objectification of women in capitalist society is beauty contests,
wherein women are considered to be mere bodies, whose figure is all that matters.

Globalisation has also led to a sharp increase in social inequalities – on the one hand, a
small section of the society is becoming stinking rich, and on the other hand, lakhs of people
are being pushed into poverty and destitution. This has torn apart the social fabric, and has

led to a sharp spurt in crime.

A patriarchal mode of thinking, together with an increasing portrayal of women as sex
objects for fulfilling men’s lust, in a society where violent crime is sharply on the rise, is what

is responsible for the sharp increase in violence against women in the country during the past
two decades. Ever since India began globalisation in 1991, rape cases have seen an incredible
240% increase, from 10,068 recorded rape cases in 1990 to 24,206 cases in 2011.

The brutal Delhi rape case has led to a massive outpouring of anger and a powerful protest
movement across the country against violence on women. We must join the struggle. We
must demand a change in laws, speedy trials and quick justice in all rape cases.

However, we also need to be clear that just improving the law and order situation is not
going to end violence against women. That is because its roots lie in the capitalist partiarchal
system. We need to advance our struggle to change this system, and build a new nonviolent,

peaceful, society, where women are able to live with dignity as human beings, which
guarantees everyone the basic conditions for the fullest development of their inherent
abilities.

For that, we need to build a strong women’s movement, which also includes in its fold

sensitive men. Let us join hands to build such a movement. If you wish to know more about
us, we invite you to the below-mentioned program.

Talk: Social Roots of Violence Against Women

Speaker: Prof. Uma Chakravarti

(Feminist historian, Human rights activist, and Retd. Professor, Delhi University)
Date: January 5, 2013, Saturday Time: 6 pm to 8 pm
Venue: Lokayat Hall, Opp. Syndicate Bank, Law College Road, Near Nalstop, Pune – 4

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