“Either way, change will come. It could be bloody or could be beautiful. It
depends on us.”
- Arundhuti Roy, author
A 2018 Guardian article reads “India is the most dangerous country for women. It must face reality”. Why, you may ask? Well, as they say perceptions matter. Perceptions are nothing but how we interpret the information that our sensory organs collect from the environment. Simply, perception acts as a lens through which we view reality in our own way. However, what we actually perceive is often morphed by our genetic dispositions, cultural upbringings, prior knowledge, emotions, self-interest and cognitive distortion. When it comes to the perception of women in an Indian society, however, there is a distortion of perception and it is quite out of reality.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (shall be referred to as NCRB from here on), there are 88 daily rape cases in India as per the records of 2019. Essentially, that means every 16 minutes a woman is raped in India. The socio- cultural construct of gender and the subsequent mindset of an ideal behaviour of a woman has formed a layout for a special kind of gender discrimination. It becomes a very combative topic to discuss about the acceptable and flawless idea of a woman which in turn cannot be assessed uniformly in any way. A woman is “showed her place” when she does not conform to this a skewed perception of an “ideal woman”.
A very prominent differentiation can be seen in forming the anthropologically accepted supremacy for the different genders. The different oppressive practices from different traditional communities with a common low position for women in the rungs of the ladder are often justified with “scripture-based” evidence for retaining “orderliness” in the society.
Interestingly, in India, in a lot of urban areas educated married women gave grown up with the notion to bend to the pressure of their in-laws and abandon the labour force after their marriage to look after the household activities. This, in turn, puts the entire burden of looking after the household on the men. Society, in general, can be hostile to women who aim to achieve break the glass ceiling which is why it becomes fundamentally easier for them to opt for the easier choice of maintaining the so-called “orderliness” in the society by maintaining their “place”. Moreover, India as a country is in denial of the fact that its women do not feel safe on the streets, at home, in their workplace at any time in the day. From a very personal experience, in order to go the to nearby grocery shop at night we have to think twice to make sure that we are dressed appropriately and that going to the shop is really very necessary. We learn to modify our behaviours according to what will keep us safe from sexual assault, violence and harassment and as a country we have learned how to normalize this. Having been a patriarchal society for several decades, women have always been considered as second-class citizens in India. There is female
infanticide and female foeticide still prevalent in a lot of states in India. The most prominent cases that shook the morality and jolted us awake to the condition of women in India were the Nirbhaya gang rape case of 2012, Unnao rape case of 2017, the case of Phoolan Devi, the case of Shah Bano and many more. With the numerous protests all across India after the Nirbhaya gang
rape case of 2012, there was a change in the legal code.
What is essentially required at this stage is implementing a proper sex education policy, completely stopping victim-blaming and victim-shaming, redefining masculinity, listening to rape survivors and a change in the mindset of people. As more people in India are migrating from villages to urban cities, the massive culture-shock which is faced by them is not well well-founded if they are not guided in the right direction. With an immense amount of migration and immigration happening daily, an intersectional approach is required to tackle this issue and it should also serve as an inspiration to the next generations.