Monday January 21, 2019
Home India India Can Rea...

India Can Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?

A total of 548 global experts on women’s issues , 43 of them from India

0
//
BJP Leader Asks Parents Of A Rape Victim To Express Gratitude To Them
Can India Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?. Flickr

-By Deepa Gahlot

You read with a mixture of alarm and scepticism, the poll report by the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation that India is the most dangerous country in the world for women, beating Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

According to reports, a total of 548 global experts on women’s issues — 43 of them from India — were asked about risks faced by women in six areas: healthcare, access to economic resources and discrimination, customary practices, sexual violence, nonsexual violence, and human trafficking. And shockingly, India comes out as the worst!

We see women progressing in every field in India, but, there is also the increasing violence against women and young girls reported every day; not long ago, female tourists felt safe in India; but now, women travelling solo are constantly targeted. Everyday there are reports of the rapes and murders of minor girls, often accompanied by unimaginable torture and mutilation.

There has been outrage in India, and also holes punctured in the survey that has such a small number of respondents, but can we really take an ostrich approach to the condition of women? Even as education and healthcare improve for women — at least in metro cities — the contempt for women is socially and culturally ingrained in the Indian psyche. In a city like Mumbai considered progressive and relatively safe for women, the girl child is unwanted even by many educated and wealthy families. In spite of laws being in place, female foeticide and infanticide is rampant, to the extent that there are large territories where there are no girl children and brides for the men have to be ‘imported’ from other states.  As dowry murders and rapes rise, the more unwanted the girl child becomes.  The fact is that India’s gender ratio is deplorable.

And if the male child is valued over the girl child, he grows up believing that he is special and if he is thwarted in any way, he can resort to violence. In spite of education and exposure to progressive ideas, in the case of rape or sexual violence, the tendency to blame and shame the victim persists.

To give just one small example, in the West, accusations of sexual harassment resulted in united shunning of a man as powerful as Harvey Weinstein and many others in the wake of the #MeToo movement, that helped many women speak out about their experiences.

In India, Malayalam actor Dileep, who has been accused in the abduction and rape of an actress, and was boycotted by the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), was recently reinstated. This caused shock and dismay among women in the film industry.

A statement by a group of over 150 women film practitioners says it like it is, “A body that is meant to represent artistes of the Malayalam movie industry showed complete disregard for its own member who is the victim of this gross crime. Even before the case has reached its conclusion, AMMA has chosen to validate a person accused of a very serious crime against a colleague. We condemn this cavalier attitude by artistes against women artistes who are working alongside them. There is misogyny and gender discrimination embedded in this action.

“We admired and supported the Women in Cinema Collective that was formed by women film artistes in Kerala in the aftermath of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, a top star in the industry. We applaud the WCC members who have walked out of AMMA to protest the chairman’s invitation to reinstate the accused. We pledge our continued support to the Women in Cinema Collective who are blazing a trail to battle sexism in the film industry.

“Cinema is an art form that can challenge deeply entrenched violence and discrimination in society. It is distressing to see an industry that stands amongst the best in the country and has even made a mark in world cinema choose to shy away from using their position and their medium responsibly at this important moment. Today, women form a significant part of the film and media industries, we reject any attempt at silencing us and making us invisible.”

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Indian women. VOA

The preference for male children has had some unexpected ramifications. In a working paper published by the American non-profit, National Bureau of Economic Research, by Northwestern University’s Seema Jayachandran and Harvard University’s Rohini Pande (quoted in Quartz Media), finds that stunting in Indian children could also be blamed on the cultural preference for sons.

“In India, on average, the first child — if he is a son — doesn’t suffer from stunting. But, if the first — and so the eldest — child of the family is a girl, she suffers from a height deficit. And, then, if the second child is a boy, and hence the eldest son of the family, he will not be stunted. This happens because of an unequal allocation of resources to the first child”.

According to the report, “When Jayachandran and Pande compared India and Africa results through this lens, they found that the Indian first and eldest son tends to be taller than an African firstborn. If the eldest child of the family is a girl, and a son is born next, the son will still be taller in India than Africa. For girls, however, the India-Africa height deficit is large. It is the largest for daughters with no older brothers, probably because repeated attempts to have a son takes a beating on the growth of the girls.”

Also read: Has Legal Framework Turned a Blind Eye towards Under-representation of Women in Indian Politics?

In spite of all the Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao rhetoric, the required shift in the male-centric attitude towards a more egalitarian one is simply not happening; or, it is a case of one step forward, two steps backward. The Thomson Reuters Foundation report may be unfair and skewed, but being known as the rape capital of the world does nothing to improve the image of India in the world or even in its own eyes. (IANS)

Next Story

Opinion: It’s High Time That we Stop Objectifying Women

Sex is wonderful, beautiful, marvelous- but only when it is right! Sex can also be destructive, terrible and boring. Sex is what you make it, not what it makes you

0

From flatcars to Xerox machines, bikes to baby food, sex is the common marketing tool with the covert sexual invitation- purchase me!

Sex today has been clubbed with the thought of pleasure. Our society is more inclined on the sensual. ‘Think about feeling good’, ‘Do as you desire’, ‘Let yourself go in the flow’, ‘It’s your life!’, ‘I will do what I like’, it’s a free country and I can do anything I like’. The individual centric, pleasure seeking philosophy in which ‘self’ is given the number one position in all areas of life.

Therefore, we are led into the search for physical excitement as the answer to our aching emptiness. Sex is delightful but it can’t be a philosophy driving our lives. Why is it that the highest compliment is to be sexy? How come so many people devote hours imagining about sex? Why is the reality so altered from sexual expectation? Where do all these sexual feelings come from? How can such obvious attitudes be avoided?

So many questions! Now more than before sex is at the uppermost of the agenda and people require to be speaking openly and justly with the demands that are upraised.

We talk or hear about predominantly of a friend of ours who had experimented early with casual sex. He’d narrate stories of what happened with all kinds of partners –and of course was mostly admired for his sexual capabilities. He had moved from ‘falling in love’ to ‘having sex’ and soared from one bed to the subsequent like some sex-overwrought butterfly.

The sexual notions validated in films and TV shows provide an inaccurate and fraudulent view which has become established as normal acceptable behavior. It is exceedingly destructive to only view sexual relationship as the height of romantic love.

Raymond Chandler notion about alcohol holds true of sex: ‘Alcohol is like love: the first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that, you just take the girl’s clothes off’.

Opinion: It’s high time that we stop objectifying women.

One of the properties of the sexual revolution has been the use of women in particular as objects for sexual manipulation.

Terrible proof of the casual and superficial attitudes to sex which treats women as objects with which to satisfy desire, as a collection of body parts, as some kind of mechanical device to please your sexual urges.

Sexual objectification involves viewing and treating another person’s body as an object valued based on its sexual appeal, usually to the neglect of other aspects of the person, such as their thoughts, feelings, and desires.

If we look at the world of advertising, a new type of woman has been created for consumption of desires of the society because this woman (created by the advertising world) has no wrinkles, blemishes, or scars, and her skin is totally perfect. Her eyes are splendidly bright and her bounteous breasts and buttocks are defying the ‘law of gravity’. Her teeth are white beyond imagination, flawlessly straight, and appear unreal. The problem is that it is very hard to find this woman in the real world as they do not really exist. She is the outcome of many hours spent in the make-up chair and days of photo renovating.

Also Read- Novel Hope for Stem Cell Approach to Treat Diabetes

Then we have Jadavpur University professor, Kanak Sarkar who compared a virgin woman to a “sealed bottle” on a Facebook post. In his post, Sarkar said, “Are you willing to buy a broken seal while purchasing a bottle of cold drink or a packet of biscuits? A girl is born sealed from birth until it is opened. A virgin girl means many things accompanied with values, culture, and sexual hygiene. To most boys, virgin wife is like angel.”

Though he has been taken off duties but he later said it was intended for “fun” among a group of friends on social media and “not for public consumption”.

Modern men are programmed to view women as sexual objects which has led in part to the way men view women as objects at work. The extent of this reappeared in the year 2017-2018 with the birth of the #MeToo and TimesUp movements birthed by sexual harassment claims made against Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein when American actress Ashley Judd passed her story to key news agencies. We have to move away from typical images of perfection by accepting “Photoshop-free,” women and celebrate the real-diverse women around us.

Gender inequality, sexual objectification, and sexist attitudes should become a remnant of the past. The worth of an individual, to any extent or aspect, should not be determined by their physical being.

By Anurag Paul

Writer | Photographer | Conversationalist | ex- Press Trust of India (PTI) & NewsGram | Connect on Facebook- Anurag Paul, Instagram- anuragpaulm or Email- anuragpaulm@outlook.com

Sex is wonderful, beautiful, marvelous- but only when it is right! Sex can also be destructive, terrible and boring. Sex is what you make it, not what it makes you.