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Women in my land- the unsafe truth

India is far from being the land of equal opportunities. Many would see the growing economic prowess as a sign of further development but the fact remains that amidst this development, the women of my country still have to struggle...sometimes even for their birthrights. It is like an ongoing battle- the battle to live, to love, to survive, to be safe and to say no. Some win, most lose, others just endure. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the famous social reformer and Independence fighter of my country once said " Freedom is our birthright, and i shall have it." Little did he know that the freedom he was striving for, would lose its meaning somewhere by the same people who advocated his beliefs and promised to follow his ideals. His words ring in my ears every time i hear or read about a woman being raped, molested, burnt alive, sold or brutally attacked by acid.It makes me think that does freedom depend on gender too?? Such increasing trends of violence against women, especially the recent acid attacks on them, have only made me cringe, shudder with fear, angry and my heart bleed. The victims in such cases are mostly young girls, pursuing studies in college, who are repeatedly made to pay the price for speaking their minds. Shocking and bizarre reasons are given later on to validate the stand of the perpetrators. Mostly jilted lovers and boys from the victims' own locality commit the heinous act of throwing acid on them when the girl refuses to oblige to their sexual favours. In one such case, in the city of Ranchi, a young girl, NCC ( National Cadet Corps) member was attacked by acid by four to five boys of her locality, in her own house at night, simply for refusing to have sex with one of them. Shocking! What is more disturbing is that out of the five boys, two were still minors who helped in committing such an act. The girl , reeling under immense pain and shock, had appealed for euthanasia from the state government as her parents faced a tough time gathering enough funds for their daughter's surgery. Few arrests were made but the culprits were let off on bail few months later. This is the price she paid for saying no and standing up for her dignity. What made matters worse, is that the perpetrators continued to harass the family asking them to take back their complaint or be ready to face more such attacks.This is just one of the many cases reported in the media.There are more. Post this attack, the culprits have not only become more unabashed but vowed to spread more evil.Posters outside city colleges threatened in big bold letters of more acid attacks to girls who chose to wore jeans and a top while stepping out of their houses. This has only led to more fear among parents and restricted the freedom of girls.The authorities have given up saying these are the works of local goons who are otherwise harmless, hence the inaction against them. I ask when will this stop? or how do we cope with such a situation? Stricter laws would definitely help in curbing and conviction rates would have to be higher to teach the culprits a lesson. Letting the perpetrators free on bail serve no purpose. It only encourages the next person to commit more such crimes. Very harsh punishment along with more coverage in media and newspapers might help the situation and spread awareness. If the local media, newspaper and authority could also highlight and reward the person who comes forward and reports such crimes, then more and more culprits would be behind bars.Rather than focussing only on the negativity, care should be taken to be more tolerant towards the victims.Women must be stronger and assured of every possible help.Education, which i believe starts at home first,should teach to discourage any action that holds the capacity of destroying somebody's life. Teachings which upheld the respect the dignity of a woman, should be taught from a very young age. Freedom taught and freedom practiced cannot be different. We cannot allow it to depend on the gender of a person. Freedom is our birthright, let us not restrict it to one gender only.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

olutosin's picture

Thanks Dear

I love this and I am sharing it. I can identify with all that you have written. Thanks for being the voice.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Mukut's picture

Thank you and a warm hug

Dear Olutosin ,

Thank you so much for your kind feedback. This is just one of the true stories of crimes against women in my country. There are more. With the help of strong women like you and others, let us help in bringing a change in the psyche of our society, men and women. More power and love to us all.

Mukut Ray

amiesissoho's picture

Freedom means freedom. it

Freedom means freedom. it cannot be different for different people.
Thanks

Amie

Mukut's picture

Absolutely!

Dear Amiesissoho,

I completely agree. We have enough discriminations already in our society to fight for, let us not bring 'freedom' under that as well.

Thank you for your comments.

Mukut Ray

ambicasnair's picture

it is sad

hearing stories sorry real things like this makes me so mad. same acid treatment should be done on them, the boys, being beautiful is a crime,. being dark skinned is a crime, being not pretty is a crime., being well educated is a crime not being educated is a crime...........for girls only? what is this.....sexual assault is becoming so bad it is going beyond a limit even beyond our imagination...the law should be strong.. but who is there to do such thing. it is sad .wait for a miracle may be................
ambica

Mukut's picture

Yes, it is sad

Dear Ambica,

I agree such reports/stories infuriates me as well. Stricter laws and higher conviction rates would definitely help. We should also remember that education starts at home so if we educate our children better, then their mindsets wouldn't be so distorted when they grow up.

Thanks so much for reading my post and commenting.

Mukut Ray

OgYogg's picture

Freedom should not be a

Freedom should not be a reason for these type of agression. In Canada lately a guy that was frustrated of ending of the relationship end up in crime. He told her, if I dont have you no one will have you.The woman got acid thrown at her and 80% of her body is damaged, she needs to have surgeries and the emotional-psychologic shock is unrepairable. Man do not own us, being with someone is a mutual agreement, we do not belong to anyone.

Thanks a lot for your text, it make me think more on how society is getting so crazy. A lot of people can't deal with their feelings, I question a lot about the way people get raised. You don't like some situation, you hit.
It's hard situation. Parents should show to their child to use words to express themselves instead hiting, should show respect others... a lot of value desapeared and the world get tougher :( unfortunately

Mukut's picture

Completely agree

My dear Og Yogg,

It is indeed very saddening to see such horrific reports of crime happening across borders and communities. Yes,men do not own us, neither the society does.

Stringent action is required and a healthy mentality with dollops of tolerance towards opposite sex. We all are in it together and we will bring a change,very soon.

Thank you so much for your comments.

Mukut Ray

irmia's picture

Good will

Dear Mukut:

India is one of places I know for strong feminism movement. And I understand how frustrating it is when we have to deal with violence (in any forms), as it might be something that we have within our culture (including the way majority interpret our religion text). In my country (Indonesia)---where Muslim is majority, many people believe in misogynist interpretation of Koran. The misogynist interpretation (such as women can't be outside after night hours or women have to wear hijab---veil) has been formalized into formal regulation (known as regional act law) in several provinces and municipalities. For instance in a town called Tangerang, a woman who was waiting her husband on a street at night was arrested as she was assumed working as prostitute; meanwhile Tangerang is known for industrial town where many women worker have night shift. In Aceh (a province), a young girl aged 16 was committed suicide because she was arrested and accused as prostitute because she went outside to enjoy local music concert.

Further, the national act law of marriage legalized in 1974 represent the misogynist interpretation, and for years, revision for this act law is hard to happen. While, one of articles clearly mention that polygamy is allowed for men when his wife can't function normally, and no articles mention about protection for women.

That situation is like an everyday-fight for progressive Muslims. Something holy is hard to be changed. I wonder if it also happens in India, to understand the trigger of the violence.

BTW, in Indonesia, there has been several regulation to protect women from violence such UU 23/2004 (act law about the elimination of violence against women) and there has been efforts from national government such as allocating the budget for special unit in police, i.e. woman and child protection unit, to work on violence against women and children. However, not all police station has this unit and the reason is typical, i.e. the budget is insufficient to run the unit, or there is no adequate human resources. So, it actually requires more than law to fight violence. Political will from government, good (political) will from civilian to fight for the issue---to push the government to allocate budget for instance, and most of all, law enforcement. And when we talk about law enforcement, we talk about police, lawyer, judge, and prosecutor. In reality (what I experience), those elements sometimes can't work together :)

I would love to hear about your experience in India---when you have to deal with those elements.

Mia

Mukut's picture

completely agree

Deae Mia,

It is unfortunate that such regressive thinking about women exists in your country too.Actually it comes as no surprise when you say that there is no equality, freedom given to women because whether it is today or 10 years before, women have suffered at the hands of archaic laws and male dominated institutions.

In India, situation is not much different but slowly we will change that.
I believe if we take a stand today, then 10 years later our children are gonna thank us for making their future better.

We are in it together.Thank you so much for stopping by, and highlighting the situation of women in your country.

Thank you for sharing.

Much love

Mukut Ray

j_cambra's picture

Wise beyond your years

Mukut,
Thank you for sharing your story. It is very well written and I like how you weaved in the "freedom is our birthright" quote. Earlier this year is when I first heard about acid attacks. I can not phathom why someone would do such a horrible act. My question is how are people able to buy acid? It seems like there should be some more controls and better tracking on the distribution of it. Do you know if this is in the works? Why do the courts let the men off so easily when they have changed someones life forever? To your point on education I think it is the best long term approach to end violence against woman (all forms). Parents understand how fragile their kids are as they grow up and how painful it would be to have something bad happen to them. Maybe a targeted campaign towards them might be the spark that makes the difference.

Between your stories and your responses to other listeners comments I can tell that you are wise beyond your years. You have inspired me and I am sure you have inspired numerous woman around you. Keep on spreading the word and don't lose the passion to make a difference.

Sincerely,
Justin

Mukut's picture

Thank you

Justin,
Thank you for your encouraging words.Regarding your question about the availability of acid, it is readily available across the counter in medical and other stores.In fact in a research conducted, Hydrochloric acid comes as cheap as a bar of soap.

Sadly,there is no law to regulate the sales of the acid as it used in many purposes including car batteries.The law for the Manufacture,Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 (amended in 2000) applies to industrial situations only.
Furthermore there are no regular checks conducted for acid sales in the country.
The Supreme Court has shown concern regarding this matter, and advised the States to curb the sale of acids and be proactive in this matter.

The plight of the victims, whether they are compensated or not, remains dismal, sometimes with no money, or job left and men refusing to marry them.

Hope the situation improves and i am confident that by addressing it and talking about it, it will.

Thank you again for stopping by.

much love,

Mukut Ray

Lehner's picture

Dear Mukut, I agree with

Dear Mukut,

I agree with Justin, you have expressed yourself really well. Your article not only 'hooked' me from start to finish but I want to share your story with friends here in the United States. I know these horrific acts happen but you have managed to reignite my horror.

In fact I want to use your example when next I meet with the board of the Himalayan Education Foundation located in Peterborough, New Hampshire, USA to discuss how we can refine our focus on the education of girls (we have already sent a couple of young women off to college, so of course I am now a little concerned that they may need additional skills to the academic ones they have received to help them avoid such horrors). And now I am thinking maybe the school with which we work, needs to incorporate into the curriculum a gender equality/respect/awareness course.

Please share any ideas you have that might benefit primary and secondary school students of both sexes.

With great respect and love,

Monica Lehner

Mukut's picture

Dear Lehner

Lehner,

Thank you so much for stopping by and appreciating the article.It is great to know that you are helping young women achieve their dream of getting education at college. It is indeed commendable.

As you mentioned, if,along with basic academics,subjects or ideas such as gender equality/ mutual respect could be taught at school, then it would be great.

Primary and secondary school children are at an impressionable age. Whatever we would teach them, they would pick up instantly.

Ideas such as sharing,care,mutual respect and a non violence approach to things should be encouraged and taught to these kids.Be it in playground or class, equality and tolerance towards each other should be stressed at.

Love,care and compassion should be the mantra instead of war and bloodshed.

If we can also manage to involve the parents of the students and conduct seminars in schools wherein similar ideas would be shared with them, then it would become easier for the child to follow.

If the learning at school do not match the learning at home, then the child might develop conflicting ideas regarding important issues. So it is very important that they remain on the same page regarding such vital issues.

Carry on the great job that you are doing and thank you again for sharing your thoughts.

Much love,

Mukut Ray

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