10 things that have changed for the Indian woman

Posted: March 8, 2013 in survival, Women
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 

Bindi

I started blogging on International Women’s Day last year and much has changed for the Indian woman since then. Some changes have been good and some bad. I list 10 of them.

1.    Violence against women has finally been acknowledged

For ages, rape, dowry deaths, domestic abuse were treated as isolated incidents that just happen sporadically in certain communities and to certain people. After the Delhi rape case it has been finally acknowledged by the Indian government that each and every woman out there risks being abused any time and something needs to be done about it. This awakening is a positive one.

2.    Helplines and apps

Special helplines and apps have come up for women which they can use in times of need. At least there is an effort to ensure safety for women. Something that was non-existent before.

3.    Women have found a united voice

For the first time in recent history so many women came together to fight against abuse. Women came out on the roads in Delhi and braved the December cold for days to protest against violence against women. The protests quickly spread to different parts of India giving all those sufferers a united voice. This has been followed up by the 1 Billion Rising movement that is expected to bring change for women the world over.

4.     Men are supporting the movement

Be it through Facebook, through blogs, through physical presence at protest marches men have also lent their voice and support. This has strengthened the women’s movement. I remember just after the Delhi rape case a policewoman on her way to work was being heckled on a Delhi public bus. Some men came to her rescue and took the culprit to the police station. This is indeed positive change.

5.    Police has been forced to register cases

After the furore caused by the Delhi rape case, no police station is likely to ever dare not register a complaint. I was reading that day a seven-year-old girl, living in a slum, was molested by her 17-year-old uncle. Her mother complained to the police and he was arrested. Earlier the mother would have definitely found it difficult to register her complaint considering her social status and nature of the complaint.

6.    Rape has become a hot topic of discussion

I was in Kolkata last month and an elderly uncle said, “These days there is so much talk about this ‘rape shape’.” (Aajkal ei rape shape niye khub lafalafi hocchey.) Rape was an issue that people rarely discussed in drawing room conversations. Now any such conversation is incomplete without it. But in this discussion there are usually people who are truly concerned and there are also people who think unnecessarily too much importance is being given to the issue and there are also people to whom this is another amusing topic apart from Bollywood and Indian politics.  Also I have noticed people of all age groups are comfortably discussing rape, something unimaginable in our Indian culture only a couple of years back.

7.    More rape cases are being reported

Either there is an increase in the number of rapes committed or now more cases are being registered and reported. But in the last three months, sadly, there are more reported cases of rape on minor girls (one as young as three years) than I have ever heard of in recent times. This makes me think that is so much talk about rape and no consequent punishment and safety network egging some people to explore the violent crime even more? Most of the minors have been raped or molested by people they know. This is a dangerous development.

8.    There is more fear among women

I was talking to a friend of mine in Kolkata and she said that after the Delhi case women feel more fear. “Whenever I take a cab I feel scared if there is a helper with him. If he suggests an alternative route or wants to take the less populated EM bypass I start panicking thinking he has some other plans. And then if I am not home at a decent time my mother starts panicking and keeps calling me to check if I am safe.” Many women are asked by their parents, guardians and husbands to get home early to avoid any “uncalled for situation”. A friend in Delhi said, “Women’s safety was always an issue here and I worried and fretted if my wife got late. But what has happened now is that the thought of rape is constantly at the top of our minds. What if… it’s a scary thought.”

9.    Indian women are perceived as the most abused by the international media

Never imagined Wall Street Journal would be interested in a small town in West Bengal called Barasat. But now they are. They have even written about how women wear long nails and pink nail polish not for beautification but to fight their abusers.

Check the article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324616604578302620513689386.html

What they have written in the article is true but what is most interesting is the recent focus of the international media on violence against women in India. All top foreign media like The Washington Post, New York Times and The Guardian have been writing about women’s issues in India. That’s fine. But most often the tone is like India is the worst place for women. That’s unfair. If you look up statistics in Wikipedia you will see rape is probably more rampant in the US and UK than in India.  Following is an example from Wikipedia.

According to a news report on BBC One presented in November 2007, there were 85,000 women raped in the UK in the previous year, equating to about 230 cases every day. The 2006-07 British Crime Survey reports that 1 in every 200 women suffered from rape in that period. It also showed that only 800 people were convicted of rape crimes that same year, meaning that less than 1 in every 100 rape survivors were able to convict their attacker. According to a study in 2009 by the NSPCC  250,000 teenage girls are suffering from abuse at any one time.

10. Marital rape is officially not a sexual offence in India

Although women’s organizations have criticized the decision to not make marital rape a punishable offence in India I look at it this way that there are laws for dealing with domestic violence in India. Section 498A gives a woman the power to put her husband and in-laws behind the bar first and then proceed with the case. If marital rape is considered a part of domestic violence there is already a punishment in place.

 

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Comments
  1. basically, the issue is more human than women! I don’t know, but there is a serious problem in the basics! *sighs!

  2. Ballari says:

    very well thought and well written Amrita di ( as always) .
    I personally feel that men in India ( most but not all) lack a basic sense of respect towards women in general and this is depicted in their basic behaviour and attitude -day in and day out. If I come to think of it I have noticed this sheer lack or tolerance and respect at every aspect from boys in school , to teenagers in college, to my men collegues in India.At every aspect they will target you at your weaker points and at every possible opportunity they will demean you or humiliate you -directly or indirectly. It can be by just staring at you ( to a point you feel uncomfortable) or by passing lewd comments ( an everyday happening) or by simply “innnocently” touching you while talking,or by making crude assumptions for your “extra effort” for your well deserved promotions.. it happens all the time. I may sound very harsh (for Indian men in general) but this is the truth that prevails, which I feel truly sad about. Rape is a much bigger offence and my heart goes out to the sufferers of this henious and brutal crime, but emotional and mental rape is something that goes on day after day and is somewhat accepted in the veil of “men will be men”
    Sorry for the long vent!

    • amritaspeaks says:

      Dear Ballari,
      I agree with every word you have written and it is a constant fight for us. Especially the lewd comments and the efforts to touch us wherever and whenever possible is the most irritating part of the sexual advances we face everyday. The “extra effort” about the promotion is also so true. But once it happened to me that instead of men there was a woman colleague who was hellbent on proving that my promotion came from “extra effort” 🙂 But I also look at it this way. All along the way we have also been lucky to have interacted with men – friends, classmates, boyfriends, colleagues, cousins, husband and even strangers, who have helped in keeping our faith in humankind alive.
      But I completely agree with you again. This emotional rape that women face everyday is probably unique to our country. Thank you for your long vent it adds value to my post.

      Amritadi

  3. Awesome article Amrita.I totally agree about #7. My 8 year old son reads the whole newspaper everyday. About 2 months ago he asked me the meaning of “Rape” !!! (Sigh) Today after seeing a “Women’s day article” in the paper – he pointed to a word and said “Mommy what is contraception?” We are supposed to talk about it today evening 😦 Wish me luck

    • amritaspeaks says:

      Thank you Madhupa. Explaining rape and contraception to a 8-year-old can be quite horrifying but I think they are exposed more these days and understand better so hopefully your task will be a wee bit easier. For instance my 3-year-old son whenever he sees a kissing scene on TV says, “mamma see they are doing kissi”.

  4. manisha says:

    i am agree with you.very good article.

  5. Nayanee says:

    A very relevant recap of the said scene in 2012. I guess regarding marital rape care needs to be taken at the time when it is being reported—like some kind of NGO or permanent press support noting when victims come to report it at the police station
    and following it up.

  6. Ballari says:

    Thanks Amritadi. I cannot agree with you more. Regarding the female collegue of yours , that is also so very common.. sadly. Came upon this very interesting read. Quite relevant of what we are talking about here but just from a different perspective 🙂
    http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/The-underage-optimist/entry/five-things-women-need-to-change-about-themselves

  7. Wow, what a dramatic, complicated set of changes over one years time. Thanks thinking about this so thoroughly and sharing your thoughts.

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