There is one universal truth, violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, and never tolerable.
- Submissive, subservient, slavery and victims of physical and mental abuse is the quintessential image of an Indian woman permeated down the ages by the feudalistic and tyrannical mindset, misogynist Indian male who were always given to believe that a woman is a lesser mortal whose purpose in life on this earth is to give in to the needs and demands of the MEN!
- This harsh reality is backed by solid empirical data maintained by the various law enforcement agencies and the NGOs/activists who have been fighting this uphill and almost impossible battle in the Indian Context. Although we have come a long way in our gender equality campaigns, relentless perseverance and persistence is required to penetrate a stubborn and obstinate Indian mindset.
- The status of Indian women has seen a decline over a period and historically the decline can be traced as follows :-
- Ancient India : Surprisingly the Indian women in this period were better off than their compatriots of Rome and Greece. The women could pursue studies and enjoyed equality and freedom even in academic pursuits.
- Medieval Period : Although the steady decline of women began in the later Vedic period, the Medieval Era saw the complete degradation of the women’s status. So much so women were considered inferior to men and were relegated to menial tasks and subservient beings to the dominant male.
- British Period : The British Period revived the fortunes of the Indian women and the traditional male bastions were shattered and women gained access to education and slowly the burgeoning numbers participate in the freedom struggle.
- After Independence : The constitution grants equal rights to women and gave them voting rights. Although the status of women improved for the better, several factors hampered their rise to full potential. They are:
- Perceived rituals and social practices like Child marriages, dowry, which was being practiced especially in rural India.
- Declining gender ratio due to high mortality rates among women resulting from excessive child bearing and mal-nutrition.
- Though women have gained ascendency in society they are still victims of some of the cruel practices even today. Notwithstanding the numerous legislations in favour of women, a large number continue to be victims of atrocities. The term ‘atrocities against women’ refers to “a cruel and wicked act against a woman which causes her emotional or physical injury or both.” What is surprising is these atrocities covers women in all strata of society ranging from those in abject poverty to those who are affluent, educated and belong to the higher elite of society.
- Law Enforcement agencies have referred to “crime against women” under two categories:
- Crimes under the Indian Penal Code, and include seven crimes, namely rape, kidnapping and abduction, homicide for dowry, torture (physical and mental), molestation, eve-teasing; and importation of girls up to 21 years of age
- Crimes under the local and special laws to include commission of sati, dowry prohibition, immoral traffic, and indecent representation of women.
- Multifarious agencies have devoted enormous time and energy to devise ways and means to combat this menace. This effort when synergized with government initiatives will definitely make a significant impact. Some of the measures are:-
- Increased awareness campaigns using print, electronic and social media.
- Strict implementation of the various statutes enacted by the Govt to protect women’s rights.
- Greater women’s participation in the various decision-making forums starting from the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
- Incentivise successful pro-women campaigns, initiatives and endeavors.
- The increased reports of atrocities against women,to include rape, violence and even murder is a significant impact of this multi-pronged campaign. Although it is still felt that for every woman atrocity case reported there are several cases unreported due to societal pressures.
- In the Indian context the male-mind set requires a transformational change in their perception of a woman. The conventional concept of the Indian Male being made to believe as an ALPHA SPECIES and that women are inferior needs a paradigm shift and the nurturing and value imbibing has to begin in the INDIAN HOMES where gender equality needs to be preached, practiced and enforced.
- The Indian women on the other hand, have painstakingly busted all male bastions encompassing professional, social and religious fields. Women have now donned the role of priests; have performed last rites of their parents, which hitherto was viewed as an exceptional male privilege as the male was perceived to guide the spirit of the deceased to heaven. The road to gender equality is arduous and tough but yet achievable and winnable