Essay on Violence Against Women in India:
India shed the shackles of slavery seventy-five years ago, still, women in our country continue to be helpless victims of male supremacy. In almost every walk of our social life, they are treated as inferior beings. We may shout about constitutional equality between men and women but we shall have to go long way before women will find an equal, safe, and honorable place in our society. The privileged being called man is always there to lord over women. A few brave souls, no doubt, do now and then stand up to fight against this injustice, but this isolated effort is too feeble to shatter the stronghold of male hegemony.
One of the most hideous aspects of our society is the dowry system. It is a complex phenomenon and there are several dimensions to it. It reduces a young girl into a saleable commodity and lowers her dignity. In case she brings inadequate dowry, it exposes her to the risk of maltreatment after marriage. We feel indignant at the brutality of an illiterate youth who beats his wife and demands from her parents gifts that they cannot afford. But what should we say about the greed of a doctor, an engineer, or a civil servant who, even after selling himself to the highest bidder in the matrimonial market, maltreats his wife? Thousands of girls immolate themselves at the altar of this evil every year, some of them before marriage because they cannot afford dowry and some after marriage because the dowry is insufficient to quench the capacity of the in-laws. As to our legislation for all the anti-dowry measures in its armory, the government has not been able to contain the menace.
No less evil is the physical outrage on women. We persist in our wretched belief that women are weak, helpless creatures who need constant watching by their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons at different stages of their life. It reads today like a fairy tale that in the reign of a certain king, a woman laden with ornaments could move freely without any fear. How often does one hear of ladies living in busy localities murdered even in broad daylight, all because they had some yellow metal with them? The race of chain snatchers is increasing. At temples, at fairs and festivals, in crowded public places, and in buses, these lynx-eyed brutes abound and carry on their depredation even where policemen are on duty.
Greed is not the only motive force behind the crimes against women. Sex hunger is another. Young girls are decoyed on promises of a decent job or marriage. And once a girl has fallen she is blackmailed into a life of vice. A study of the denizens of red light quarters will amply bear out the general adoption of this modus operandi. If we want to get a feel of the rottenness of our social milieu, we have only to know the experiences of working girls. From the starting bus stop to the place of their work, they are exposed to the vulture’s eyes of males of all ages and all classes. If the way lies through a deserted place, there is always the danger of facing a potential molester. The journey from home to the office is nothing short of a nightmare.
Violence against women in India is becoming more frequent and is alarmingly on the increase. A heavy responsibility falls on the shoulders of our social workers. The politicians can at least tighten the reins of our film industry that trades in violence and female molestation. Public display of big hoarding only serves to excite the young minds. But the biggest responsibility will be that of the woman themselves. They must organize themselves, they have borne the tyranny of man far too long. The time has come for a crusade. It is, indeed, shocking that when we talk of our Trombays and Tarapur, we appear as technological giants; but when we think of our attitude towards women and enumerate the crimes against them, we appear as social wolves.