Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Women's Day - A Joke!

While shattering the glass ceiling and the phenomenon of the glass cliff are the challenges facing women seeking to climb the corporate ladder, making an existence itself is a challenge for the unempowered women of rural India. Hence, on this day, I think it's appropriate to provide a bird’s eye view of the crimes inflicted on them. Though, it is a collective responsibility of the humanity to provide a solution, the following excerpt from a case study I did a couple of years ago (without any purpose!) would at least enlighten the minds of the nouveau riche softies of the problems faced by the women.

International Women's Day (8 March) is an occasion marked by women's groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday. When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, the crime and violence inflicted on them remains as is.

In India, the deep-rooted discrimination of woman begins at her family and her entire socialization process is oriented toward making her an obedient mother and a sincere Wife. She is being discriminated in education, health and decision-making. Most of the work she does for the family remains largely unaccounted and unrecognized by the family and the community which reflects the invisibility of much or her work, making her a mere reproducer and not as a producer. In any Indian family, gender identity determines the status of a person with in the family and hence, the father has more authority over the children than the mother, brother enjoys more facilities, than the sister, the husband has more authority than the wife, and the son is the sole decision maker of a widowed mother’s destiny. Dowry deaths, wife beating, desertion, incest, feticide, infanticide, and polygamy are some of the maladies of the domestic order of the Indian society and are still prevalent. It is often said that domestic violence is a traditional phenomenon, which is not so, as it is both traditional and modern. The tradition burnt women alive, while the use of the modern science kills them in the wombs and denies them the right to be born. Equal property rights to all women and joint matrimonial property rights are not recognized and mother not considered as natural guardian. Women are often used as an instrument to humiliate as her body is considered to be the best site where any kind of revenge can be wrecked. By attacking the women of targeted group, the targeted group is sought to be taught a lesson.

India is in a period of transition and new ideas and ways of living have been introduced in the wake of liberalization, which has resulted in blind consumerism and unreal aspirations fuelled by the barrage of advertisements and get-rich quick schemes influencing the manner people think and behave. Women usually face a double workday, working on an average of 4 to 5 hours a day at home, fulfilling their traditional domestic responsibilities in addition to their economic activity that depends on the size of their family. The factors pushing women and children to displacement and excess work are,

1. Poverty
2. Secondary status of women with in family due to cultural and financial reasons.
3. Customs like dowry, which makes her a financial burden.
4. Son preference
5. Loss or incapability or unemployment of the male member of a family.
6. Consumerism and the aspirations of the family to cope up with the modern life style with material comforts.

At work place the problem starts from wage discrimination, reluctant to employ women and sexual harassment. Both in the informal sector and formal sector most women are not organized in trade union that makes them insecure as far as their jobs and rights are concerned. Many women considering their family responsibilities refuse promotion, training opportunities and leaves. Sexual exploitation of women by the employers, co-workers, colleagues, contractors, middlemen etc. is another serious issue faced by working women. Instance of sexual harassment in the organized sectors may not be as violent as the unorganized sector, but differing degrees of harassment are widespread. Harassment can be in different forms such as verbal harassment, unwanted invitations, sexually colored comments and also physical advances.

The one issue that remains least addressed in Indian society and law, which is one of the most under-reported crimes in our country, is rape. Rape is one of the most brutal forms of aggression against women. In addition to the trauma of rape itself, the victims have to further agony during the legal proceedings that require repeated explanation of the incident before the police and court. Rape by socially and economically powerful persons misusing their position to exploit women is seen in large numbers and most of the women do not even report the cases as they feel that it will not help them, considering the strong position of the aggressors. The girl child remains to be the not vulnerable and powerless target to be sexually exploited. Crime statistics from the national crime records bureau of the home ministry have consistently shown for the last 10 years that rape of minors below 16 years of age are more than 25% of the total rape cases and the shame on the part of law convictions. Of the 284 reports cases of rape in New Delhi in 1992 there were only 3 devaluation of women and children in the society and their oppressed status.

According to official records in 30% to 50% of the cases of child abuse, the offenders are family members, close relatives, neighbors and friends. When it is not with in the family, most of the victims are the children belonging to the poor section and street children of the society. There is also great deal of hesitation by families, to report cases of child abuse as the police or social environment of the legal procedure are not sympathetic towards the victim. When the abuser is the male member of the family, pressure from other members of the family in the name of saving the family honor is the, main consideration and in such cases there is a conspiracy of silence as the family is dependent on the abuser financially. If the victim is 12 to16 years of age she is blamed for inviting the assault or her parents are accursed of allowing her too much freedom, which results in the blame-the-victim syndrome that traumatizes the victim affecting her self esteem. The definition of rape in the Indian penal code is archaic and is remnant of Victorian colonial legislation, which defines rape as vaginal penile penetration and does not recognize oral sex or anal sex as rape of sexual assault. Since vaginal penetration is not often possible in child abuse and does not occur in child rape, the rapist under the Indian law is liable to be punished only for molestation an there is also a failure in the proper registration of the case in the FIR. There is also a serous mental stress due to the lack of counseling for the child and her family and because of the social prejudice against the victim, which is very common.

The Next important issue is the immoral trafficking of girls or women or children in our society. In India according to the 9th five-year plan, 320 million people are below poverty line and of these 70% are women and so this can be referred as feminization of poverty. The rewards of globalization have been reaped by privileged few, amassing wealth and power in the hands of multinationals and the individuals. This has led to unemployment , under employment and retrenchment of the female Labour force which makes them loose their source of livelihood and under these circumstances, more and more women and children are under great pressure to earn more to supplement their family’s income. Hence the tragedy starts to have child Labour, child prostitutes, street children and even men prostitutes. Trafficking is the illicit and clandestine transport of people across national and international borders, largely from developing countries with the motive of forcing them in to oppressive and exploitative situation for the profit of the traffickers or exploiters. Women who are widowed, deserted, abandoned, victims of fraud marriages, are soft targets for the trafficking Mafia. Family, friends, lovers and even parents are often party to the process and in most case the labour contractor or an employment agent or practicing or retired prostitutes are the party to the process. These trafficking people are used in.

1. Flesh trade,
2. Purpose of begging,
3. Attraction in sex tourism,
4. Illegal organ transplant,
5. Drug trafficking,
6. Urban household requiring cheap domestic labour and in
7. Industries that require cheap Labour.

Today the entire flesh trade market is demanding younger girls and according to a current study of the approximate 9,00,000 prostitutes, some 30% are children, and the number of girls below 14 years engaged in prostitution is increasing at the rate of 8% to 10% per annum. This is because of the following factors.

1. It is easier to force them in to submission with the use or threat of physical violent.
2. Myths that sex with virgins is a sure cure of impotent and STD.
3. The fear of HIV among the amateur prostitutes and the mistaken belief that the young girls present a much lower risk of infection.

Despite constitutional guarantees and ratification of international conventions that protect the rights of women and children, laws are followed more in their breach than in their observance. There are special police officers for controlling trafficking and curbing exploitation and most of them do not regard this as serious offence and often collude with the traffickers. There is also a strong nexus of traffickers with the politicians, officials, businessmen and the priesthood. There is no penal sections against officials who fail to take action in cases involving, trafficking of women and girls. Hypocritical moralizing against prostitutes while remaining completely silent on the sexual perversions and promiscuity of the ever-growing male clientele is futile effort in the system of justice and law enforcement.

Culture created by the liberalization process on the economy have encouraged the proliferation of the pornographic industry designed to create sexual fantasies with obscene films, photographs, websites and books, which are easily accessible. This has resulted in the exploited of the children beyond any resistance and further it is fuelled by the immoral portrayal of women by the medial as instrument of lust and pleasure. I beleieve that the best way to conclude is to present the following verses of the former president of India Late Shir.K.R.Narayanan.

“Violence in society has bared a hundred fangs
As advertisement-driven consumerism is
Unleashing frustrations and tensions in our society.
The unabashed, vulgar indulgence in
Conspicuous consumption by the nouveau riche
Has left the under class seething in frustration.
One half of our society guzzles aerated beverages
While the other half has to make to with
Palmfuls of muddied water.
Our three-way fat lane of
Liberalization, privatization and globalization
Must provide safe pedestrian crossings
For the unempowered India also.”


Kavi said...

You seem to have researched it very well. And connects very well to the post 'Solicited' !

Thanks for letting me know. I would have missed it.

Gives a whole lot of perspective.

priya said...

Your post reminds me of my case study during my college days where the topic was related to discrimination among boys and girls in rural areas. Many do prefer boy to girl based on money and support in the future.

It has become a general phenomenon for someone to ask, oh is it a girl?? No wonder people become selfish becoz of their needs which in turn affects the other person not to go further in her life.

I think you have combined together the problems of women. Wish it had different posts as every topic has its own issues and causes to be challenged.

You said-

socialization process is oriented toward making her an obedient mother and a sincere Wife.

May be I am little different from this coz, I was brought up like a tomboy, carefree and was more of just don't care attitude. May be I still need to learn things which are invisible to me in the future.

When you talk about recognition, I have to say she is not motivated by her own family members which can only bring down her exposure to this world. Women either rural/educated face the same problems with money, sex, rape and marriage itslef. The difference is, educated remains single with a decent job, but rural women are abused by their own community.

If its a boy/ girl doens't matter coz its their child and what makes a big difference with gender?

If their is no mother where comes the child first?

Harassment- I can say both men and women do have some psychological issues. Our men back home do not have freedom to know the structure, I mean body of a women. In schools, teachers shy away and think its more of sexual issue and never explain things which has to be discussed.

Our society itself has to be blamed as they compare/ gossip people who can be real good friends going out together or creating neagative thoughts can make young minds to run away.

Dress codes and posters inlcuding song lyrics which can be vulgar can trigger a persons mind to harass or check it out. A simple reaction can make things better or worst in such isues.

It reminds me of my post how women engage more in the name of freedom and some men use them as product. I read in an article where some girls are given some kind of drugs in drinks and they lose their virginity even without knowing who that guys is?

Man is a social animal based on their action, interest and groups which can lead to different expression in what they do.

Let me stop here as it goes on...

Oops used more space.