Posts Tagged ‘crime against women’


Lying on the roadside …near the garbage heap,

Covered in your mother’s blood …

Your barely formed head…covered with sparse hair….wet…

Your eyes are clenched closed ……and pointed chin touches your barely moving chest…

Fists closed …arms crossed across your unformed breasts…

Your knees are drawn up tightly across your tiny caved in stomach…

The placenta torn and sneaking through them and lying …like a withered snake …unsure…

Your thin legs are crossed at the tiny delicate ankles…pink toes speckled with blood…

I see you my daughter…

 

 I see you my daughter…

Lying on the roadside …near the garbage heap,

Covered in your own blood …

Your head covered with sticky mottled hair …lying bedraggled across your bare shoulders…

Your eyes are clenched closed ……and pointed chin touches your barely moving chest…

Fists closed …arms crossed across your beautiful bare breasts with burn marks …

Your knees are drawn up tightly across your curved stomach…

The womanhood torn and sneaking through them and lying …like a withered snake …unsure…

Your bare long legs are crossed at the ankles…red coloured toes speckled with blood…

I see you my daughter…

 A journey of a million smiles ….a million blessings…so many tiny dancing steps…so many birthday gifts…a zillion words…so many classes and teachers… beautiful dreams …a journey of a million tears…

…to end from your mother’s blood in your own …from death to death …

 © Dr. Anita Hada Sangwan

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Navratri, a combination of 2 words, ‘Nav’ meaning 9 and ‘Ratri’ night is a 9-day Indian festival wherein 9 avatars (incarnations) of Goddess Durga are worshipped.

Durga is a Hindu Goddess of power/energy/force. She is divine warrior and has the combined energies of all gods. Goddess Durga was created to annihilate a powerful demon called Mahishasur who was awarded with the power that made him invulnerable to defeat from any male.

The festival of Navratri is celebrated with vigor all over India, mainly in North and West regions as well as in some Eastern states. For the first 3 days, avatars of Goddess Durga are worshipped, followed by worship of Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) and finally worship of Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of wisdom).

On the 8th day of Navratri, a kanya pujan (girl-child worship) takes place wherein pre-pubescent girls are worshipped by washing their feet and traditionally, offering rice grains and new clothes. These girls are worshipped according to the philosophy of ‘Mahamaya’ i.e. the Ultimate Goddess, Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of power). Another reason for worshipping young girls is because they are said to be the purest and most innocent. Feminine gender is at the core of universal creation which is what these girls represent.

In most families, this Kanya pujan is observed on Ram Navmi i.e. the 9th and final day of Navratri. This tradition is still prevalent throughout the Navratri-celebrating population and hordes of girls are ‘worshipped’ by each family in order to complete the Navratri pooja.

Let us now take a look at this celebration of womanhood throughout the country over the last 9 days i.e. from 11th to 19th April, 2013.

 

11th April, 2013 (West Bengal) – http://www.tibetsun.com/news/2013/04/11/monks-among-those-arrested-for-gang-rape-in-kalimpong

12th April, 2013 (Punjab) – http://www.dnaindia.com/india/1821724/report-man-rapes-ninety-year-old-woman-in-punjab

13th April, 2013 (Karnataka) – http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/teenager-held-on-charge-of-raping-4yearold-girl/article4631013.ece

14th April, 2013 (Bihar) – http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-04-14/patna/38528481_1_complaint-class-vii-student-ssp

15th April, 2013 (New Delhi) – http://www.ibtimes.co.in/articles/457069/20130415/11-year-old-raped-inside-bus-delhi.htm?cid=5

16th April, 2013 (Maharashtra) – http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/maharashtra/Woman-beaten-up-foetus-dies/Article1-1045222.aspx

17th April, 2013 (Goa) – http://www.dnaindia.com/india/1823530/report-school-going-girl-gang-raped-in-goa-five-youths-held

18th April, 2013 (New Delhi) [Kanya Pujan]- http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/woman-allegedly-gang-raped-in-delhi-thrown-semi-naked-onto-road-355746

19th April, 2013 (New Delhi) [Kanya Pujan]- http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Candle-bottle-forced-into-minor-rape-victim-Doctors/Article1-1046989.aspx

9 days of Devi poojan or 9 days of devil worship.


Paloma Sharma is a  student, social activist and active blogger at Going Bananas. At a tender age of 18, she is more aware about social issues than most people. Following is an article on bride trafficking in India, a little known, less talked about topic.

 

According to the nation-wide census held in 2011, there are 940 females for every 1000 males in India. While the figures at a national level are disturbing, the State of Rajasthan accounts for an even lower sex ratio of 926 females for every 1000 males. The difference between 926 and 1000 seems small at first. However, Rajasthan has a population of 68,621,012 out of which 35,620,086 persons are male and 33,000,926 are female. With the natural human sex ratio being approximately 1:1, it is found that 2,619,160 females are ‘missing’ from the population of Rajasthan.

In 2012 Rajasthan had 308 cases filed under the Pre-Conception, Pre-Natal and Diagnostics Techniques (PCPNDT) Act 1994 against sex-selection abortion, which was the highest in the country. However, according to unofficial estimates, 2,500 baby girls fall prey to female foeticide or infanticide every single day in Rajasthan. Though the grand old patriarchs of clans practicing femicide continue to pride themselves over producing only sons, their systematic, mass-scale  and merciless murders of their daughters are not only gross violations of a human being’s basic human right to life but they also present a predicament to the position of their precious sons in society. In a culture where marriage is seen as a universal and inevitable eventuality, the genocide of females leaves a significant number of men without partners; and so, the buying and selling of women as ‘brides’ prospers.

Bride trafficking is forced sale, purchase and resale of girls and women in the name of marriage. Girls and women are kidnapped or lured into bride trafficking and sold, raped and/or married off without their consent only to end up as a slaves and bonded labourers at the mercy of the men and their families, who have ‘bought’ them.

Bride trafficking is also commonly called bride buying – a strange term because despite their sale, these ‘brides’ are no commodities. They are real, living females who are victims of trafficking. They are just as human as any of us. How can anyone truly buy another living being?

According to Global Voices approximately 90% of the 200,000 humans trafficked in India every year are victims of inter-state trafficking and are sold within the country. The states of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan are major destinations of trafficked ‘brides’. It is hardly surprising that these states also account for the most skewed sex ratios in the country. Although the buying and selling of brides was a well documented historic practice in undivided India, lives of today’s trafficked girls and women are cloaked in secrecy because neither do they have a voice, nor do they have the social-mobility or resources to acquire one and raise it.

According to a 6 year long analysis conducted by Empower People, 23% of girls from West Bengal are trafficked. Bihar is next at 17% followed by Assam (13%), Andhra Pradesh (11%), Orissa (8%) and Kerala (6%).

Trafficked brides are known as Paro (outsider), Molki (one who as been bought) or Jugaad (adjustment). Majority of trafficked brides belong to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes or lower economic classes. Some of them are kidnapped, some tricked and some sold into flesh trade by their own parents or other trusted family members/neighbors.

Another way of selling women has recently come to light due to the ‘Baby Falak case’. Pimps and traffickers pose as grooms, marry women with less or no dowries and then sell them off to other men. Isolated from their natal communities, in an alien land with no rights of their own, these cross-state trafficked brides are easy for their ‘grooms’ and in-laws to control and exploit.

Sold into a deeply oppressive patriarchal society where defiance of the caste and gender hierarchy is met only with bloodshed and death, these trafficked brides are seen as a ‘dishonour’ to the family because their origins, (i.e., castes) are not known. According to ‘Tied in a Knot — cross-region marriages in Haryana and Rajasthan, Implications for Gender Rights and Gender Relations,’ a study funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, trafficked brides are isolated and humiliated both publicly and privately due to their castes and duskier complexions. Children born to these mothers are not accepted in the community and are taunted by peers. In what seems like an unending cycle, boys born out of such unions are likely to buy brides just as their fathers did before them. The fate of girl children, if any, remains unknown.

Although a trafficked bride is technically married to only one man in the family, the man’s brothers or other male relatives see her as a property to be shared. The Eastern Post reports that 70% of trafficked brides are gang-raped repeatedly on a regular basis by their husbands and other male members of the family. Sexual promiscuity among boys and men goes unchecked and is almost celebrated in such social environments where using protection is not the norm. Hence, trafficked brides who are sexually abused by their husbands or other men are at a higher risk of contracting HIV, as are any children born to them.

Trafficked brides are used as agricultural and domestic slaves by day and sex slaves by night. Their sole purposes seem to be that of managing the household, working in the fields and bearing a male heir for the family. If they fail in any of these tasks and their ‘owners’ are dissatisfied with them, they are resold; if they cannot be resold, they are kicked out of the house and forced into prostitution.

According to The Eastern Post 56% of trafficked brides have been sold twice, 21% have been sold thrice and 6% of them have been sold four or more times. However, according to Global Voices, the re-selling rate on an average is as high as 4 to 10 times for every trafficked bride and 83% of girls have been sold more than twice. Also, in 89% of the cases, the trafficked bride is the second, third, fourth etc. wife of her buyer. It is clear from these statistics that purchasing women in the name of marriage is not a traditional practice of lower-class communities (although they are starting to practice it.)

Bride trafficking is more prevalent in rich, land-owning communities. As seen in the census of 2011, the top 20% of the population have the worst sex ratio. Wealthy families see baby girls (and the dowries that go with them) as a threat to their wealth. This is why girl children are either eliminated as foetuses or as infants and the absence of eligible girls is made up for by purchasing trafficked brides. It is an unending cycle that neither society nor the government seems to be interested in breaking.

On the legal front too, hope for justice seems almost non-existent for trafficked brides. The ITPA (Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act) deals especially with prostitution but does not cover all forms of trafficking. The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 does not cover this form of trafficking and slavery either. More over, sexual violence faced by trafficked brides amounts to marital rape which, despite the Justice Verma Committee’s suggestions and vehement protests by various women’s rights organizations, is not a criminal act in India. Although IPC sec. 366 seems like an effective way to tackle this mass abuse and rape of women and girls, it does not have a provision for rehabilitating victims of trafficking. Despite all this, the ultimate barrier is that trafficked brides are either illiterate or only slightly educated and have little to no knowledge of their own rights.

Trafficked brides are often child brides or very young women who are sold to older men. A majority of trafficked brides are between the ages of 13-23 years. A trafficked bride can be bought for as little as Rs. 1,200. They are confined to the four walls of the houses of the men who have bought them and have almost no social interaction with anyone else, even in their own homes. Neighbours often don’t know who the bride is, where she has come from or if she even exists. The state of anonymity that these women live in is not only disturbing but a cause for great concern.

If we do not know how many women are there, how will we know how many women are missing?

In the Mewat region alone, there are 20,000 cross-border brides. But that number is an unofficial estimate, just the tip of the ice berg and the ship that India society is floating on seems to be heading straight for it.

While urban citizens in general seem to be blissfully ignorant of the trafficking and slavery of women in the name of marriage, the government chooses to turn a blind eye. It would dare not defy the Samaj Panchayats and Khap Panchayats who, while worried about the ‘purity’ of their bloodlines, see trafficked brides as a necessity because for them anything is better than having a daughter.

It is these very Panchayats who hold the fate of politicians in their hands. Every time election comes around, these Panchayats declare the name of a candidate and the entire community votes for him/her. For the government, it would be disastrous to act against bride trafficking and lose a vote bank. After all, why is it important to uphold the human rights and dignity of these nameless, faceless women? Who are they? Do they comprise a vote bank?

No, they don’t.

A vote bank seems to be the only solution to this problem. If a vote bank is what it takes for the authorities to turn a blind eye to bride trafficking and simply shrug and say that marriage is a familial issue when confronted with realities, then a vote bank should be organized. Right-minded citizens who know their rights and care about the rights of others must come together and put gender equality and women’s rights on the agenda for 2014.

Bride trafficking is not just a woman rights issue but a human rights issue. Bride trafficking is not marriage, It is a lethal combination of the darkest forms of domestic slavery, bonded labour and sexual slavery. Bride trafficking is the ultimate dehumanization of a woman; hidden under colourful veils and disgusting excuses of men’s needs, a community’s honour and a family’s necessity. It is an inhumane custom of believing that someone can put a price on another human being’s life. This custom exists because we, as a society, allow it to. But we don’t have to let this go on anymore. Unlike the women who are stripped of their humanity and sold into a sick perversion of marriage, we do have a voice.

But the question remains: are we brave enough to raise it?


Guest post by Samar Esapzai, a visual artist and PhD student in International Rural Development and Gender Studies.

In an enlightening class I took last semester, my professor said something that stuck with me long after the class/semester ended, for it held so much raw truth. She said:

“The woman’s body is the battleground upon which cultural and religious wars are fought.”

Being a woman in any given society, whether it may be within South/Central Asia or in the West, there are often triggers of distress and tension, and the constant battle with one’s image and appearance that plays over and over again in a woman’s head like a broken record. We live in a world where, right from the time we are born up until we die, we are told that our body defines us; that our sexuality should be proscribed – protected; and that we should do everything in our power to guard our bodies – our honour – from the enemy: men. And, if we don’t, then the blame falls solely upon us.

While there are some who manage to break free from this never-ending cycle of staring, leering, gawking, examining, judging, etc., most women will, however, be forever stuck in this rut for the majority of their adult lives. The worst part is that some women have even accepted it – accepted that they, their bodies, are the reason behind every incident of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence that have been, and will be, inflicted upon them. It has almost become like an unspoken sort of awareness, where a woman suddenly realizes how dangerous her body is to her safety. And if she slips – even once – she will have no choice but to suffer the dire consequences that accompany it.

Furthermore, when we look back at history, especially in the context of war and conflict, women’s bodies have often been treated as territories to be conquered, claimed and marked by the contender. This is why violence, especially sexual violence, against women was and still is quite common during communal/ethnic conflicts. Women would not only be raped but their bodies would be marked in such a way so as to remind the opposing enemy that their women – who are supposed to be “pure” and a representative of the community’s/nation’s “honour” – are stained.

Such markings would include stripping a woman naked and serenading her in shame in public; physical mutilation and disfigurement, i.e. cutting off a woman’s private parts, or other parts of her body, such as her nose, ears, hair, etc.; tattooing and branding a woman on her private parts, i.e. her breasts and/or genitals, with hate slogans against the enemy; and other forms of debasements to emphasize conquest and suppression.

Thus, the violation of women’s bodies equates the same political territories upon which the men from the rioting communities would inscribe their markings on. It’s like an uncanny sort of relinquishment – a victory, where it becomes blatant that in order to defeat a nation, you must violate their women. Such atrocious violations against women hence create a sense of helplessness in communities where a woman’s honour is more important than her life. And in order to revive this honour, members of the community (usually male) have no choice but to kill off every single female who was either raped or physically/sexually violated in any way. For it is known that a woman’s dishonour is the dishonour of the ethnic race, the community, and the nation as a whole.

Consequently, the targeting of women’s bodies is both an effect and a cause of the acceptability of sexual violence against women. It serves to subjugate women further, and creates an environment where violence becomes habitual and is committed with impunity. And while there is no denying that the blame often falls upon the woman for failing to guard her body from being violated, even if it is against her own volition, an equal burden falls upon the shoulders of men who deeply value their women’s honour.

I personally believe that as long as such societies conventionalize the woman as a symbol of honour and continue to instrumentalize her in such an ignominious way, gender-based violence in these societies will persist, making any iota of progress seem bleak.

Even so, not all societies associate women with honour, despite the fact that rape and other forms of violence against women still occurs. There are societies, particularly within the South and Central Asian region, where a woman’s dignity equates her entire existence as well as the existence of those around her. And though it is clear that men, too, are targets and victims of violence, it is the gendered nature of violence that marks women’s experiences as wholly unique.


International Women’s Day is celebrated by the United Nations with a new theme every year. This year it’s called ‘A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women’.

The focus this year is on prevention of violence and the provision of support services/responses to survivors of violence.

The United Nations General Assembly defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

“It is estimated that up to seven in ten women globally will be beaten, raped, abused or mutilated in their lifetimes- and most of this violence takes place in intimate relationships.” -United Nations

Violence against women is a global epidemic which is deeply rooted in the cultural history of various societies throughout the world. An evidence of this can be seen in the various proverbs across the globe. Some examples of these proverbs are as follows:

Beat your wife regularly… If you don’t know why, she will. (Zambia)

The nails of a cart and the head of a woman: they work only when they are hit hard. (Rajasthan, India)

Affection begins at the end of a rod. (Korea)

A woman, a dog and a walnut tree — the harder you beat them, the better they be. (Europe)

These proverbs seem to reflect a kind of society where wife-beating is not only considered manly but also a part of life. A life where woman is inferior, should be treated as one’s property and must be kept under a check. There is no equality.

To think that such proverbs result in domestic violence would be irrational & idiotic although they do reflect a misogynistic society where inequality is a norm.

Women suffer through numerous forms of violence throughout their lives.

Examples of Violence against Women Throughout the Life Cycle 

Phase                                         Type of violence

Pre-birth                                     Sex-selective abortion; effects of battering during pregnancy on birth outcomes.

Infancy                                      Female infanticide; physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

Girlhood                                    Child marriage; female genital mutilation; physical, sexual and psychological abuse; incest; child prostitution and pornography.

Adolescence and Adulthood         Dating and courtship violence (e.g. acid throwing and date rape) economically coerced sex (e.g. school girls having sex with “sugar daddies” in return for school fees); incest; sexual abuse in the workplace; rape

sexual harassment; forced prostitution and pornography; trafficking in women; partner violence; marital rape; dowry abuse and murders; partner homicide; psychological abuse; abuse of women with

disabilities; forced pregnancy.

Elderly                                      Forced “suicide” or homicide of widows for economic reasons; sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

(Source: “Violence Against Women”, WHO., FRH/WHD/97.8)

The true prevalence of violence against women is concealed as a result of the under-recording by the police, and under-reporting by the women involved. Under-recording occurs when violence against women – particularly in the home – is viewed as a ‘normal’ part of gender relations. Ignorance & prejudice among police and other state officials means that women survivors of violence risk being blamed for the violence inflicted against them. Women who have been trafficked may experience arrest, harassment, or expulsion if they report their experiences to the police, especially where prostitution is illegal. Where arrests are made, it is often women and not the traffickers who are detained. Many women opt to remain silent about violence. This under-reporting may be the result of fear of the attacker, of the social taboos surrounding violence against women, or of a lack of support to women survivors of violence. — Ending Violence Against Women: A Challenge for Development and Humanitarian Work

Basically the reasons behind under-reporting on the part of women are:

  • The attacker is known to the victim
  • Cultural stigma attached to violence such as domestic violence occurs due to failure on victim’s part to fulfil her roles.
  • Women don’t want to shame the family name
  • Failure of formal institutions to provide effective protection for women

Despite these obstacles to uncovering prevalence of the problem, quantitative & qualitative research that gives a more accurate picture of the problem does exist. One such research drawn by the United Nations back in 1998 is as follows:

 Domestic Violence against Women

Industrialized Countries

Canada

● 29% of women (a nationally representative sample of 12,300 women) reported being physically assaulted by a current or former partner since the age of 16.

Japan

● 59% of 796 women surveyed in 1993 reported being physically abused by their partner. New Zealand

● 20% of 314 women surveyed reported being hit or physically abused by a male partner. Switzerland

● 20% of 1,500 women reported being physically assaulted according to a 1997 survey. United Kingdom

● 25% of women (a random sample of women from one district) had been punched or slapped by a partner or ex-partner in their lifetime. United States

● 28% of women (a nationally representative sample of women) reported at least one episode of physical violence from their partner.

Asia and the Pacific

Cambodia

● 16% of women (a nationally representative sample of women) reported being physically abused by a spouse; 8% report being injured. India

● Up to 45% of married men acknowledged physically abusing their wives, according to a 1996 survey of 6,902 men in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Korea

● 38% of wives reported being physically abused by their spouse, based on a survey of a random sample of women. Thailand

● 20% of husbands (a representative sample of 619 husbands) acknowledged physically abusing their wives at least once in their marriage.

Middle East

Egypt

● 35% of women (a nationally representative sample of women) reported being beaten by their husband at some point in their marriage. Israel

● 32% of women reported at least one episode of physical abuse by their partner and 30% report sexual coercion by their husbands in the previous year, according to a 1997 survey of 1,826 Arab women.

Africa

Kenya

● 42% of 612 women surveyed in one district reported having been beaten by a partner; of those 58% reported that they were beaten often or sometimes.

Uganda

● 41% of women reported being beaten or physically harmed by a partner; 41% of men reported beating their partner (representative sample of women and their partners in two districts).

Zimbabwe

● 32% of 966 women in one province reported physical abuse by a family or household member since the age of 16, according to a 1996 survey.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Chile

● 26% of women (representative sample of women from Santiago) reported at least one episode of violence by a partner, 11% reported at least one episode of severe violence and 15% of women reported at least one episode of less severe violence.

Colombia

● 19% of 6,097 women surveyed have been physically assaulted by their partner in their lifetime. Mexico

● 30% of 650 women surveyed in Guadalajara reported at least one episode of physical violence by a partner; 13% reported physical violence within the previous year, according to a 1997 report.

Nicaragua

● 52% of women (representative sample of women in León) reported being physically abused by a partner at least once; 27% reported physical abuse in the previous year, according to a 1996 report.

Central and Eastern Europe/CIS/Baltic States

Estonia

● 29% of women aged 18-24 fear domestic violence, and the share rises with age, affecting 52% of women 65 or older, according to a 1994 survey of 2,315 women.

Poland

● 60% of divorced women surveyed in 1993 by the Centre for the Examination of Public Opinion reported having been hit at least once by their ex-husbands; an additional 25% reported repeated violence.

Russia (St. Petersburg)

● 25% of girls (and 11% of boys) reported unwanted sexual contact, according to a survey of 174 boys and 172 girls in grade 10 (aged 14-17). Tajikistan

● 23% of 550 women aged 18-40 reported physical abuse, according to a survey.

(Adapted from “Violence Against Women,” WHO, FRH/WHD/97.8, “Women in Transition,” Regional Monitoring Report, UNICEF 1999, and a study by Domestic Violence Research Centre, Japan.)

Violence against women is a form of gender based hate crime that is gnawing at the foundation of this society, it is not only a human rights or public health issue, but an economic and development issue, slowing economic growth and undermining efforts to reduce poverty.

Evidence suggests domestic violence witnessed as a child is repeated in adulthood.

Men who have seen violence in childhood are two to three times more likely than other men to become perpetrators of violence as adults.

Girls who have witnessed violence as children are more likely to grow up to become the victims of violence as adults. — Viewpoint: The price of violence against women and girls

We don’t need more proof, claims, evidence or statistics to recognize the danger of an unequal society. It is time now to take a stand, fight for what’s right and hail an era of gender equality all over the world. This Women’s Day, let’s pledge to bring women to the forefront of economic progress and put an end to gender discrimination.

Citation: For more proverbs on violence against women check out http://www.intrahealth.org/page/the-power-of-proverbs-