Monday, December 13, 2004

It's time to get angry again...

Women have borne and nourished humanity. When they fall ill and die, are abused and tortured, it affects the whole human species....
Violence against women is present everywhere: it permeates cultural, regional, religious and economic borders, affecting women of every class, race, caste, age, religion or belief, disability, nationality. Most of the times the so-called “protectors” of womenkind are often the first to violate their rights. Fathers, brothers, uncles and other relatives, officials and police have ignored, or in turn abused, women who have turned to them for help. A woman’s cry for help, a complaint that she has been ill-treated deserves to be treated seriously.

(Source: Amnesty Intl. Press Release 03.05.2004)
How will violence against women look in a scaled down world, in a global village of 1,000 people? (the figures are based on statistics from UN, WHO and governmental and non-governmental organizations)
* 500 are women
* It would be 510, but 10 were never born due to gender-selective abortion or died in infancy due to neglect
* 300 are Asian women
* 167 of the women will be beaten or in some other way exposed to violence during their lifetime
* 100 of the women will be victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime

(Source: Amnesty Intl. Press Release 03.05.2004)
* 49.7% of the world population are women (3,132,342,000 women; 3,169,122,000 men) (UN Population Division).
* At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are "missing" from various populations as a result of sex-selective abortions or inadequate care as they are seen less important than boys (E, Joni Seager, 2003).

Cultural beliefs and attitudes may reinforce violent behaviour, making it seem that violence against women is “natural” or “normal”. Hence the violence no longer gets talked about although thousands of women are in pain and even in danger of losing their lives. Especially in domestic violence, nobody intervenes to help the woman being battered because it is culturally acceptable for a man to “discipline” or “punish” his wife.

Though many women have experienced violence from family members, they may not realize it. If you ask a woman “have you been beaten?” She may say “yes”, but if you ask her “have you been treated with violence?” she may say “no”. This is because violence is perceived as such only when hospitalization is required. The general slapping, punching, belittling, humiliation and abuse is tolerated as “normal”.

We see this in even in ultra-modern offices. Men, during a discussion, how many times have you looked at each other rather than at the woman who is talking (even when she is talking intelligently!)?

Women's lack of decision-making power within the home, and their low social and economic status within the community severely limits their options for preventing and responding to abuse.

As women, we are also culturally conditioned to accept abuse and insults. Many is the time that a woman has been felt up in a crowded place. She has been taught to be passive - such harassment “will happen”. It is too “embarrassing” for her to object to these things, and it’s better to just keep quiet. Please, if you are a woman reading this, speak up. Being silent only reinforces our vulnerability.

Whether it is among our friends, in class, at work or at home, when we dare to raise our voices and disagree, we are attacked for our audacity – for the fact that we as women dare opposition and stand by our viewpoints, rather than on the content of our argument. We are labelled “radical”, “man-haters” and other terms, with derogatory intent.

Nobody has the right to abuse and harass us because our appearance is not pleasing, to rape us because we do not want to have sex, or starve and beat us because they are feeling ill tempered. They cannot belittle us to assert their power. Women are half the human race, but are treated with the most inhuman savagery.

In these times of HIV infection, violence against women takes on an even more menacing aspect. Other than her physical and mental well being, violence affects a woman’s reproductive health as well.

Sexual violence against women has led to higher infection rates of HIV/AIDS than among men of the same age group. (Amnesty Intl, 2004).

Lack of access to medical care, good nutrition and prevention information has made women increasingly vulnerable to HIV infection.

When child brides enter families, they are seldom treated better than slaves. People around them will decide if they can work, visit their friends, buy a new dress, how much they can eat and whether they will get pre-natal care.

Globally, it’s estimated that in the next decade, 100 million more girls—or roughly 25,000 girls a day—will marry before they turn 18. (Population Council, 2003)

To sum it up,

“ Even if it had been real, equality would have been a poor substitute for liberation; fake equality is leading women into double jeopardy. The rhetoric of equality is being used in the name of political correctness to mask the hammering that women are taking... .On every side speechless women endure endless hardship, grief and pain, in a world system that creates billions of losers for every handful of winners.

It's time to get angry again. "
(Extract - "The Whole Woman" by Germaine Greer)



Blogger Dileepan said...

By the way, what are the two poems that you quoted from the other day?

12:19 pm  

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