Women in India: Issues and Challenges

Women and children during a dharna aganist rape incidents in New Delhi . PTI File Photo

Dr. Imtiyaz Wani

Women play a very significant role in the overall development of any society and Kashmir is no exception. But what is ironic is that despite her equal share in the human development she remains at the mercy of men at least in our part of the world.

The silver lining however is the recent surge in women led protest movements across India. She is out there to challenge the well established gender biased norms and deeply entrenched patriarchal stranglehold over the fairer sex.

Woman is a very strong character than a man as she not only has to take care of herself but whole family as a daughter, granddaughter, sister, daughter-in-law, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, etc. No mean task by any stretch of imagination. Add to this her role as an active member of the society as a working lady in different spheres of life. Woman has come of age.

Earlier women in India were facing problems like child marriage, sati pratha, parda pratha, restriction to widow remarriage, widow exploitation, devadasi system, etc. However, almost all such old practices have almost vanished. But that doesn’t mean an end to the challenges women face. New and modern day challenges have cropped up making life uneasy for women.

Issues facing women still consume the attention of researchers in social sciences, governments, planning groups, social workers and reformers. Approaches to the study of women’s problems range from the study of gerontology to psychiatry and criminology. But one important problem relating to women which has been vastly ignored is the problem of violence against women.

Violence against Women

Violence against women is perhaps as old as mankind. At present it is found not only in under developed or developing countries but even in developed world. In Indian society woman is still viewed primarily as her husband’s property. The husband has the same proprietary right over her as he has over other assets in the house. In such a situation it is considered that an effective way of penalizing the man is to snatch away his property i.e., his wife.

Unfortunately in India there is a unique situation of co-existence of all forms of violence, especially of elimination of women e.g. selective female foeticide, female infanticide, bride burning and sati. The women, right from the moment of stepping into the husband’s home tries to forget her own identity and adjust everything according to the needs of the new place and the people living in it. But the violence against women (like, dowry related harassment, death, marital rape, wife-battering, sexual abuse, deprivation of healthy food, female genital mutilation, etc) from the womb to the tomb continues.

Violence against women in India is a very big and serious social issue which mainly happens due to social ills or her economic dependence. This issue of violence against women comes forth time to time in the form of brutal gang-rape, sexual harassment at work place, acid attack, etc. Brutal gang rape and murder of an 8-year old girl, Asifa Bano,  in Rasana village near Kathua in Jammu province, on 10th of January in 2018 is a case in point. Perpetrators enjoying the backing of ruling party wanted to scare away her nomadic tribe from the land and they choose that innocent young girl as the target to send a message.

Violence against women happens because of inefficient legal justice system, weak rules of law and male dominated social and political structures. According to the research it is found that violence against women begins at home in the early age especially in the rural areas by the family members, relatives, neighbors, and friends. Time is the real eyewitness of all the sufferings (like sex discrimination, exploitation, oppression, aggression, degradation, humiliation, etc) borne by the helpless women. In the Vedas, women are glorified as mother means one who can create and nourish a life. On the other hand, they have found themselves suppressed and subjugated by the men in the patriarchal society. Violence against women can be domestic as well as public, physical, emotional or mental. Women have fear of violence in their mind which hampers their full participation in many areas of life.



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