Post Mortem

Violence against women in India: ‘Her experiences of pain’

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/29/2020 12:55:12 PM IST

 (“No nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with the men. No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men. There are two powers in the world: One is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both that of the women.”--Muhammad Ali Jinnah)

Centuries have come and centuries have gone but the plight of women is not likely to change. Time has helplessly watched women suffering in the form of discrimination, oppression, exploitation, degradation, aggression, humiliation, crimes against women are a social menace and a costly public health problem. It can take the form of threats, verbal abuse, battering rape and murder. Violence against women is simply not a women’s rights issue but a human rights issue. Many women victims of domestic violence live in fear of pain and death. They tend to blame themselves for what is happening and they try to explain away the bruises and broken bones. It might not be easy to identify domestic violence at first while some relationships are clearly abusive from the outset; abuse often starts slowly and gets worst over time.

Therefore, violence may be defined in various ways. Simply stated, violence is words and abusive, that hurt people. Their actions are often justified by existing norms, values, belief system, culture and social structure of societies.

The World Health Organisation (WHO, 2002) defines violence as: The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development or deprivation. 

Some of the instances where women have experienced crime against them in India: 

1. The Hathras Rape Case: A recent brutal attack on a 19 year old Dalit woman was tortured and allegedly gang raped by four upper caste men in Hathras district in North India state of Uttar Pradesh. The body was severely brutalized, her tongue was cut, limbs fractured and spinal cord damaged. The woman succumbed to her injuries in a hospital in New Delhi a fortnight. The deceased parents begged for her dead body for proper cremation but the police refused and forcefully cremated at midnight. 

2. Women locked inside toilet for over a year by her husband: A woman, who was allegedly locked inside a toilet for a year by her husband in Pisphur village, was released by women protection and child marriage prohibition officer, Pajni Gupta along with her team.

3. Woman went online for Helplines: On April 18 a women went online to search for helpline for survivors of domestic violence. Her husband had always been abusive verbally, emotionally and at times even physically unable to bear the abuse and beating. She decided to seek help. She found a Facebook page run by “Invisible Scars”, a support group and contacted them.

4. A woman gang-raped by 5 policemen: A 20 year old murder accused has alleged she was raped by 5 policemen for 10 days in lock-up in May in Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa district. The incident came to light in October 10, after an additional district judge and a team of lawyers inspected the prison. She said a woman constable tried to stop the policemen but was reprimanded by seniors. 

Rape was used as a weapon during colonization and is being used increasingly as a weapon of war and in conflict situations as a political weapon of repression and torture of the weak. It is also used to exercise power and dominance. It is considered an effective method for debasing women, who are seen as men’s property and to defile purity of race by producing offspring.

Rape can never be mistaken for an impulsive act of passion. It is often premeditated and meticulously planned. It is not an expression of an uncontrollable sexual urge but an act of aggression motivated by the need to express power, authority, hatred of women and a desire to humiliate them, and take revenge.

Violence against women in its various forms is a violation of human rights the very nature of which deprives women of their ability to enjoy fundamental freedoms. It is a serious obstacle to equality between women and men. Violence against women remains hidden in the culture of silence. The causes and factors of violence against women include entrenched unequal power relations between men and women the foster violence and its acceptability, aggravated by cultural and social norms, economic, dependency, poverty and alcohol consumption etc. In India, where the culprits are largely known to the victim, the social and economic cause of reporting such crimes are high. General economic dependence of their families and fear of social ostraciziation act as significant disincentives for a woman to report any kind of sexual violence or abuse. Therefore the actual incidence of violence against women in India is probably much higher than the data suggests and because of this most of the women’s experiencing violence and living its consequences. 

There is need to break the silence and ensure that violence against women is not just a woman’s issue but primarily a political, social, economic and cultural issue that concerns man as well. While men represent the majority of the perpetrators of violence against women, they have an important role to play in preventing and combating violence against women. Because of their role models as fathers, husbands, brothers and sons, men and young boys should be part of the solution and thus be involved in eliminating violence against women. If men felt involved, they should help promote changes in attitudes among other men. It is not women or men working alone to end gender based violence that yields the best results. It is the partnership between them that has the greatest impact and reach.

Church Response: The issue of overcoming violence involves collaborative action and work among members of societies and churches. In fact, there are religious and contextual approaches to overcome violence. These models depend on the willingness and cooperation of those involved in the process. Approaches must be holistic in nature and in essence so that they reflect God’s life-giving purpose for all creation. The church must live out the prophetic, and shepherding role in the church which includes counselling, healing, nurturing, caring, fellowship, peace and reconciliation etc. the main focus is to restore life and bring about justice. 

Therefore, as a church we have responsibilities or rather obligations to initiate, educate and trained them. Our church desperately needs creative, courageous action. In a spirit of prayerful discernment, we must consider; what constitutes a faithful response, both individually and collectively?

We must risk a first step on the journey. Trust each question enough to follow it, one step forward and then another. Only then can we forge a more authentic way of being-female and male, a human community together.

Out of many some of the positive actions plan that could be taken in a secular country like India is as follows:

1. The church foremost responsible is she should be the agent of love, hope, peace, justice and reconciliation.

2. Train women to be released from concepts of self-sacrifice, to own power and use it responsibly.

3. Put gender on all planning and activities agendas and revise constitutions, laws, regulations and directives to be gender just.

4. Churches, NGOs and government could collaborate in addressing issues violence against women.

5. Follow up on instances of rape to ensure that legal action takes place, and the victim receives adequate support to overcome the trauma. 

6. Hold seminars on marital and family life.

7. Highlights the issues in local Newspaper to build up a resistance network.

Nokchunger Longchar, D. Min, DBC-PTCA

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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