Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jenith Sekar, If gender violence is the symptom, what is the cause?

If Gender Violence is Symptom, What is the Cause?

 For every single move, there must be a mover. For every cause, there must be some one to cause it. I am sure and certain that each and every one of us living in the patriarchal society is responsible cause for gender violence.

The existence of patriarchy mediated through structural and ideological forces makes tremendous impact on the life of women in the society. The ideological formulation and reinforcement of patriarchy precipitate ripple effects in families, societies etc. In families, women are economically dependent on men who happen to be the legitimate property owners and bread winners of the family. Women are condemned tobe by all means submissive to men and tolerant to the atrocities caused to them. The prime cause for gender violence is the structure of patriarchy which pervades not only in household, but also at every walk of life, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, so on and so forth. Women are thus constantly subjected to oppression in the private as well as in the public sphere.

1.      In the Name of God

Most of the religions portray God as typical masculine. The projection of God as a patriarchal male is simply the exposition of the same patriarchal hierarchy of male over female. The myths and statements systematically constructed around this conviction make women inferior to men in the order of creation.

In the name of God, gender violence and inferiorization of women are faithfully advocated in almost all of the major religions. Rules and norms of the religions are always framed in a way that would pin down women in the dusty soil of oppression. Forbidding women to enter into the core part of the temple and restricting them to become religious priestess are some of the discriminations inflicted upon women in the name of God. It is painful to note that the religious leaders and fanatic groups make women subordinate to their beck and call. No religion has ever given equal rights and dignity to women. If at all there have been some traces of equality and affinities favouring women in the religions, it can be only called as ‘anaesthetizing religious lullaby”. Religions can never favour women as long as the patriarchal society attributes masculinity to God.

2.      In the Name of Philosophy

Ideologies constrain realities. Philosophy, the offspring of patriarchy, logically depicts women as the by-product of men. Aristotle defines women as “misbegotten males” who lack full rationality. It is philosophy that always attributes rationality to men and sensitivity to women. As a result, sexism has been seen through the periscope of the concept of dualism. This concept of dualism fabricates men and women as body-soul, becoming-being, carnality-spirituality, seeming-truth, life-death and female-male. As a result, the terms and proverbs used in our language belittle the dignity of women and reduce them to mere commodities. The concept of dualism carefully pictures out male as the prime and supreme being in the world. Thus in the name of philosophy, ideological hegemony overshadows the brilliance of women and makes them every submissive and subordinate beings.

3.      In the Name of Politics

A new paradigm shift is possible when women get their rightful place in the society. But today women are deprived from politics. Though few numbers of women arise now and then in the public sphere, equal placements in politics are still a far cry. “We need more women in politics, they will make it sober”, remarked T.N. Seshan, former Chief Election Commissioner. Even though the 81st amendment bill in parliament to give 33 percent reservation for women was introduced, it was a pity that the bill could not be passed. If the bill would have been passed, there will be 181 women in LokSabha.. Deprivation of women from politics is a curse to humanity. In the name of politics, Bharat matha is being discriminated, victimized and finally put in shame.

4. In the Name of Community

“Gender violence, in the name of the community, haunts women and makes their life a series of traumas or lucky escapes” (The New Indian Express / Nov. 25, 2008). Today Dalit women are more vulnerable to violence. Caste and caste structures are the great impediment for the free mobility and freedom of women. In some part of India, Dalit women are forced into “Devadasi” system and for prostitution. A report released in February 2007 by the centre for human rights watch said “India had failed to uphold its international legal obligations to ensure the fundamental human rights of Dalit women”. We have to note that the increase of violence and crimes against women of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, have been perpetrated in the recent past.

In the name of community, Dalit women are isolated from the main stream of women welfare. Easy and free access to employment and justice has been denied to them. Domestic and public violence take places in every walk of their life.

5. In the Name of Us all.

Though women activists have been tirelessly campaigning against sexual and domestic violence discriminate at the work place, dowry and other forms of sex discriminations, we, the patriarchy would always drag down the development of women in various realms. A nation’s development is based on the equal rights and dignity given to women in every sphere of life.

It is a loud call to women that they must emerge as a great force in all possible fields to grab their freedom and rights. The collective energy of women and men must find an alternative to seal the concept of patriarchy. The suppressed feminine qualities must evolve with creative expressions in order to challenge and change the attitude of the male dominant society.

Men and women together with collective spirit uproot the stereotype and oppressive patriarchal thinking. The cause for gender violence against women in any form must be vehemently condemned.

It is not enough to talk or write about violence on women, the impressive need of the hour is to decide that how can each one of us, directly or indirectly the cause for women oppression, treat or look at women.

 “If we want to clean the whole world, clean the front of your door first”.

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