“BETI BACHAO”- Save our girls.
In honour of the International Day Against Woman Violence.
UN Women is coloured in orange during these 16 days. From 25th of November to 10th of December, in honour of the International Day Against Violence, UN women is going to give voice to all women and girls that have survived violence, launching the campaign #HearMeToo. Like UN Women there are many movements all over the world which have launched their shout against violence against woman: “#MeToo”, “TimesUp”, “#BalanceTonPorc” “#NiUnaMenos”, “HollaBack!” and “#MetooIndia”. With the purpose of celebrating this recurring event, I have focused my attention on women condition in Indian society, particularly on the different forms of violence that women have to face with in their society.
In Indian society it subsists a dominant patriarchal culture that is deeply entrenched and pervasive. This means that an effective implementation of a legislation based on gender equality, and a participation of women in shaping that, is influenced and restricted by the dominant cultural and social norms. The womensocial status is subjected to continuous gender stereotypes; whether in the media, in the community or in discourses by public officials, people denigrate and marginalize the woman identity and impact their social standing. There are women denied their rights to social goods such as education, health and social benefits, necessary for the fulfilment of the rights necessary for a life of dignity. Not only they are deprived of social goods, but also of their image. Women are led to fear their body. This assertion is related to the supposing protection from sexual abuse against women. People pretend that women don’t have a body especially any sexual part: no body, no harassments, and if they occurs, they are neglected or that woman has to be blamed.
According to a UN Woman report , the forms of violence against women are various: from physical or/and sexual intimate violence received by partner during the lifetime -estimated about 29% of girls and women- to lifetime non-partner sexual violence and in this case there aren’t available official national statistics, and in the case of child marriage the percentage of violence is around 27%.
First of all, most of the violence actions against women occur in the domestic context.Data of National Crimes Record Bureau show, in 2016, the rape of minor girls increased by 82% comparing with the previous year. Usually, the rapists for 95% are relatives, friends and neighbours, not strangers. The education of women social position has its roots in the family context, which is determined by the family’s point of view about woman social role. Mothers and daughters are continuously boomed by a very restricted patriarchal social vision also due to their socioeconomic dependency. The fear of socio exclusion and marginalisation lead to follow the father’s will or that of the family’s main male figure.
The socioeconomic dependency is also expressed by dowry payment: in that moment the bride becomes the groom’s property, and the payment consists in giving her, or her family property to her groom. This means that women and girls delate all that they are, leave their family to acquire that of her husband, no longer have an origin, have no possessions, depend entirely on their husband, become the property of their husband.Often women and girls are forced into a life of servitude experience, repeated act of harassment, intimidation, sexual abuse and violence, probably because the groom’s family demands more dowry. The same fate is submitted to victims of early and forced marriage. Despite the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, the cases of child marriage are around 47% before the age of 10, depriving them of numerous human rights, such as the right to education and the enjoyment of their childhood. Moreover, a widow cannot access to the husband’s property, and the consequences can be: prostitution and hazardous labour for her children.However, if it occurs a refusal of the family choice, the family, with the complicity of community leaders, will feel authorized to assert themselves through what are called “honour crimes”. Furthermore, women and girls could be killed in the name of “honour” also for the family expected dress code. In this background, it is expressed the most devious denial of basic freedom as of movement and expression, because it has occupied the woman mind since her birth, so there’s no other alternative which can be conceived. Indeed, with regard the births, despite of the Prohibition of Sex Selection Act implemented in 1994, the son preference is still strongly-held. According to the 2011 Profile of Sanitation of Children in India (UNICEF), the decline of girl-child sex ratio is about 962 per 1000 males in 1981 while in 2001 is about 927. This declining means that families carry out a prenatal monitoring system which turn into sex-selective abortions.
As expressed above, violence against women has place also in the community context. According to data, in 2012 the estimated rape sexual harassment cases in public and private spaces were about 2.84, every hour.
Many women bear the signs of their dissent at the imposition of their marriage or have challenged the patriarchal norms or partner proposal.These signs include also scars of acid attacks, the most sublime form of possession, that disfigures the women figure, both as symbolic consequence of their dissent, and as incessant stigma. That leads to a widespread general sense of insecurity in public spaces, especially in urban setting, adding a debilitating sense of shame reported bysexual violence victims which involves social exclusion, isolation from community and family, up to suicide as extreme solution. In the community contest, UN have observed cases of violence based on caste-system, minority group, intra-caste hierarchies, they are clear signs of social submission of the weak. In this case, women don’t receive proper education, or are denied also economic opportunities, perform dangerous and un protected work (scavenging, bonded labour for debt). However, also women of religious minorities has to face with educational and employment exclusion, in addition at cases of burned or stripped bodies.
Analysing every social field treated by UN Women study, I could understand that in every single step of woman in the society there are cases of social denigration, sexual violence, psychological and physical abuses. Domestic workers, women with disability, transgender, sex worker, refugees, asylum seeker, low-caste and poorer women and political opponents are other frail categories of women, because they don’t also have protection infrastructures.
As a final consideration, Indian female population lives in a social context in which there are too many cases of violence and sexual abuse. Women reveal signals of psychological disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, severe anxiety and psychosis. That makes their lives brittle and ripped and it is perpetual during lifetime.Family and social pressure binds woman to a permanent sense of fear of making mistakes, of not being pleaser, it means to be forced to fit in, to do what others want, and to never say no.Women are forced and trained to live in silence, to have no opinion about what they feel, no arguments to be discussed and commented, in this condition, it isn’t possible to have a minimal idea of women freedom, also if 42% of girls in the country have declared to be sexually abused (Indian Government Surveys) and many don’t have the strength to say it. Women as human beings have the right to enjoy freedom.We at HEEALS continuously striving towards “Beti Bachao Beti Padaho” campaign .
WASH & Intern coordinator