INDIA – The land of Goddesses. Indians worship the goddesses with utmost devotion and go back home to their daughter, mother, wife and friends forgetting that the one they worshiped resides within these women.
The amount of violence against women in India has increased by many folds due to the greater exposure of women in every field of life. Women were previously restricted to the four walls of the houses and after globalization, they have stepped out, taken chances, and opportunities to stand equally in all sectors at par with men. Women now are a day or night cab drivers and they are also the CEO of top companies.
It’s good to see how the mind-set of the society has changed and how it has welcomed women into all walks of life as leaders, as co-workers, as partners. But the mindset has not changed to an extent that it was supposed to.
This existing restricted mindset of the few is the cause that restricts women to go out and work, making them as a tool for domestication. It is the same mindset that treats males as superior to the female.
Today when women walk shoulder to shoulder with men, the male-dominated society uses eve-teasing, sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, and marital rape as weapons against women. This is one of the prime reason violence is increasing and women’s safety is a concern in India.
Despite the changes in legislation and the efforts to deliver a safe environment, the laws have not been able to make this country a secure haven for women. Criminalizing stalking and acid attacks, and an extended definition of rape, justice, and accountability for survivors have not been delivered, especially for the most marginalized. The new law has not led to faster or better justice. If anything, it has only helped to increase the backlash against women who do the report.
Incidents of survivors being set on fire by a group of men is a common affair. The law fails and will continue to fail the countless women in India.
Beyond the justice system, solutions of safety for women against violence drive the do-gooders into inventions of everything from safety apps to rape whistles. All of which leads to the understanding that women should avoid violence, stay safe, and alert. The best way at the moment to deal with the safety of women is to equip themselves with self-protection. With all the different techniques of self-protection like karate, pepper-sprays, and equipment, etc available, it’s not always possible to keep these handy or get trained in-order to venture out freely. it’s much easier and an add on to the protection to equip yourself with some app that can keep you always in touch with your loved ones and keep you one tap away from sending Emergency alerts in times of need. One such app I came across and I use is the Satark India app.
Satark India – Live Free is the most simple, smart, and easy way to call for help. All you need to do is to install the app on your mobile and add the contact details of your loved ones or your close circle to whom you would want to alert in times of need. Once done your personalized security network is set for you. Now in times of need, all you have to do is simply tap the emergency icon in the app and the one-touch alerts system will send an alert to your selected contacts, alarming them that you are in need of help. It has a GPS based tracking feature, where your loved one will get your exact live location details to be able to reach you. As add on feature, Satark India gives you the option to share your GPS location details to your loved ones all the time. Not only women But even men and elders can use the same to protect themselves and their near and dear ones.
While it may take some time for society to change their mindset, we first need to understand the root cause of this problem. The problem is in the simplistic understanding of what causes violence against women. We cannot talk about justice in India without acknowledging the culture of acceptance and normalization of violence.
Social norms – the unwritten rules of what behavior is normal and acceptable, play a powerful role in fueling violence. These norms dictate which survivors and indeed which perpetrators “deserved” it or not.
Common patterns in the social norms that drive violence against women and girls are generally linked to male entitlement, domination and control over women’s bodies. This includes male entitlement to sex, the use of violence against women as a punishment for not delivering on their perceived responsibilities, and so on.
Taking a feminist approach to challenging these social norms and promoting positive norms around non-violence and gender equality is the way to go ahead. However, unless these efforts are mainstreamed we will end up with well-intentioned but gender-blind initiatives that reinforce existing negative norms.
Shifting social norms is about creating totally new ones and this can only happen if we all continuously challenge what is considered “acceptable”. This is not easy. Nor is it safe as not everyone has the privilege of being visible in challenging norms about gender-based violence as the backlash comes strong and hard on those women.
But many young feminists in India and beyond continue to be brave and assertive, going outside and online, resisting, claiming space, demanding action. We must continue to make visible these struggles. We must continue to amplify the voices of those who are challenging mainstream narratives of violence. We should continue to shift norms and challenge violence in ways that create new conversations that women’s lives and bodies are their own, and they matter.