Women’s Safety in India: The Rise of Femininity? By Lokesh Mavilla

By | April 16, 2019
Women’s Safety in India: The Rise of Femininity? By Lokesh Mavilla

The society as a whole should understand and learn to respect women and her silent contributions which are shaping the future generations of tomorrow. Read the article titled Women’s Safety in India: The Rise of Femininity? by Lokesh Mavilla.

Introduction

yatra nāryastu pūjyante ramante tatra devatāḥ|

yatraitāstu na pūjyante sarvāstatrāphalāḥ kriyāḥ ||

{The Divine is extremely happy where Women are respected; where they are not, all actions are fruitless} – Manusmriti (Verse 3.55-3.56)

The era when ‘Women’ were treated and respected on par with Goddesses are bygone. The gradual evolution of the patriarchal mindset developed during the post-Vedic period coupled with the introduction of the rigid caste system rapidly denigrated the status of women. The 21st-century woman in India has become more vulnerable to anti-social elements despite tremendous strides in technological advancements posing a serious challenge to the Indian diaspora.

The Typical Indian Woman: Changing Feminine Stereotype?

The Indian sub-continent is a glaring witness to the innumerable foreign invasions over centuries which resulted in the diverse mix of cultures and traditions under different times of alien rule. Men and Women were being treated alike under some rulers while some totally reduced women to mere household figures with limited rights being accorded to them. The dominant patriarchal Indian society has for long been stereotyping the typical Indian woman image by confining them to private life in their homes. The ancient concept of pativrata (‘virtuous wife’) still holds good among the mainstream Indian society.

It is pertinent to note that the self-constructed image of an Indian woman emanates from ancient religious teachings that “Women are subservient to Men and has to be under the protection of a Man”. Women are repeatedly advised to guard their chastity and serve their husbands with unwavering loyalty by nurturing children and taking care of the household. The interrelation of religion in determining the permanent gender roles in the modern age is still baffling. The mainstream orthodox Indian society rejects most independent and working women due to their ‘open defiance to already fixed gender roles in the society’. The causes of Women violence which are endangering their safety stems from the very idea to subjugate them under patriarchal control. Though stereotypes are gradually changing, the safety of women in India is still perceived as an insurmountable challenge with a multitude of factors engaged in play.

Uncompromising Woman’s Safety: Recognizing the Other Better Half?

Post the Nirbhaya incident in 2012, the issue of Women’s Safety came to national attention with huge protests and uproars pouring in from all over the country. Dowry Deaths, Marital Rape, Rape, Sexual Harassment in all forms, Sex Trafficking, Shaming, Stalking, Wife Beating, etc. are the most common crimes against women according to a recent report of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The modern slogan of “Protecting Women” seems to be a paternalistic and patronizing attitude, the need of the hour is ‘Equitable Access’ to both men and women. At times where even, minor girls are being brutally raped in India, the endless debates that we endure on media and the same age-old promises that our legislators guarantee to appease the masses, the grassroots situation is only turning worse. Rape is being cited as the cruelest and barbaric act which shatters the dignity and morale of a woman completely. Whether it’s the legislative deficiency in rendering speedy justice or the rigid patriarchal mindset in place, India has never even bothered to give the mediocre woman the freedom she deserves, lest the rights guaranteed by law. Being the best better half of a man, isn’t it time to recognize man’s best half?

Challenges to Women’s Safety: The Way Forward?

Thanks to the Women’s Movement, the twenty-first century has given a significant space for women to be emotionally, mentally and physically empowered in all aspects of life. Given the vast diversity of India, the issue of women’s safety can only be steadily arrested. Fast-Track Trials should be effectively implemented at all levels to provide speedy justice to heinous crimes such as Rape, Dowry Deaths, etc. Separate stringent legislation should be brought into force for specifically dealing with crimes against women as reforming or amending the existing penal code for certain offences against women will do little help. Moreover, the cumbersome process involved in the process of dealing with crimes against women ought to be speeded up to uphold justice by designating such cases only to female personnel at every stage of the process.

Conclusion & Suggestions

The issue of women’s safety cannot be seen in isolation. The judiciary, the society and the media together can play an active role in guaranteeing Indian women the safety they deserve. Media can be utilized as a great tool in campaigning for Women’s Rights and educating the common masses about the importance of femininity. The society as a whole should understand and learn to respect women and her silent contributions which is shaping the future generations of tomorrow. The judiciary must always work relentlessly to ensure that women’s dignity and lives aren’t buried eternally without legal recourse.

By –Lokesh Kumar Mavilla,

Masters Student in Maritime Law, University of Southampton, UK

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