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 recognize 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 eradicating 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 sympathize 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 desensitized to and have even normalized 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 under certain conditions. They are: 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 felt this way – many of these women were educated and working.
It’s a sad, baffling truth – women are their own worst enemies. We need to unlearn gender roles and internalized misogyny to become allies instead. And then, we need to know our legal rights so that we can fight for them.
3. Teach Men to See Women as Equals
Even the boys and girls of today are not safe from gender discrimination. Boys are still taught to be dominating, and girls are schooled on how 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 organizations 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 an object to be adored or used for having a physical relationship. If we rely on this aspect only, violence against women will never come to an end. Think of a woman as someone with a mind and feelings. Give her the same amount of love and respect as you would 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 young India can do to put a stop to violence against women? Share your views in the comments below.