If one section of society were to start physically beating up and assaulting another section of society, the police would declare it a riot, the Rapid Action Force would be brought in, and the state machinery would swing into action to take appropriate steps to bring an end to the violence and protect those who need help.
Thereafter the state might even set up refugee camps etc. to rehabilitate those affected. Well, when we set out to do our research on domestic violence, this is precisely what we found. One section of society was physically beating up and assaulting another, there seemed to be a civil war like situation out there, only there was no Rapid Action Force to stop the violence. Two separate studies, one organised by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India, and another organised by the Planning Commission, showed that anywhere between 40% and 80% of women in India are victims of domestic violence. Lets take a conservative middle figure of let us say 50%. That's a huge percentage of women! And I'm afraid these figures don't speak very well of us men.
What is this thinking that we have in us? What is this thinking that make us men believe that we have a right to hit a woman? And what is this thinking that makes many women accept this beating for years on end? Once again, it’s the good old ‘Patriarchal’ thinking. It is indeed alarming to discover how many different problems arise out of this strange animal called ‘Patriarchal thinking’. In our research of two years during Satyamev Jayate, and in our journey to understand these 13 topics, this is the one common factor that has repeatedly come up as the villain of the piece. And, as our expert on this episode Ms Kamla Bhasin pointed out, that women, since they too are a part of the same society, are as much a part of this thinking..
Patriarchal thinking… men are superior to women! … men are the bosses! … they will decide what is good for their women… men will control women’s lives as they please and as they deem fit!!! And so we have Female Foeticide, Female Infanticide, the girl child is not fed properly, the health of the girl child is not a priority, the girl child is not given education or, less importance is placed on her education, instead she is taught to do just house work. Of course while all this is happening, she is often beaten! This thinking also results in child marriages, dowry, discrimination against widows, and of course unequal share in property, that is, if there is any share at all. Leave alone empowering our women, why are we specifically disempowering them and have been doing so for millennia.
Let us examine some of the excuses that men put forth for assaulting the women folk in their family:
“I am very short tempered”, “there's a lot of stress and problems in my life so it comes out like this”. So how come you don’t hit your boss? Why only your wife? Well you don’t hit your boss because if you do, your boss will take appropriate action against you. Are the women listening?
“I get violent with my wife because I love her so much”, “my love for her comes out in this passionate and violent way, it's because I care for and love my wife”. Well in that case, there should be an equal amount of beating coming from the women folk.
“My wife asked for it”. Well she also asked for a diamond necklace…, and guess what you are asking for?!!!
There really does seem to be a civil war out there. Brothers hitting sisters, fathers hitting daughters, husbands hitting wives and in some cases, even sons hitting mothers. Our experts have explained how once domestic violence starts it gets worse with every encounter and never stops until you stop it! The woman has to say NO!
India has a fairly strong Domestic Violence Act and it is important for all women to be familiar with what the law says. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act specifically states that the woman has the right to reside in, what is called, the shared household. Often a common fear among women is to be thrown out of her home. This Act protects EVERY women in this regard. No women, whether wife, mother, daughter or sister, can be thrown out of the house, even if the property is not in her name, and, is technically owned by some other member of the family. This Act also states that the Government of every State needs to create shelter homes for women who prefer not to stay in the shared household. And, that the State Government needs to provide any woman with a protection officer who acts as a liaison or bridge between the women and the courts. So, a women does not need to spend money on legal fees in order to avail of her rights under this act.
Historically, men have been a part of this problem, and now it is high time we men become a part of the solution. Men have to be proactive in putting an end to this illness in society. And, look at it this way, do you want to be a man who is feared and hated by your wife or other female members of your home? Or do you want to be loved, adored and respected? Do you want your children to run away from you or run towards you when you get home? DO YOU WANT TO BE A HOME MAKER OR A HOME BREAKER?
By the way, what is the opposite of Patriarchal thinking?
Jai Hind. Satyamev Jayate