In this segment, I’m going to include some of the feedback I’ve received from friends and readers — some of them activists working on the ground both in India and here in the U.S. I’m also including my anecdotal comments side by side to make it a meaningful conversation. I hope I get more ideas and suggestions from you in the coming days.
I’m not including names of the writers here only because I have not asked for their permission to use their thoughts they sent to my Facebook page. I don’t think it matters who wrote which comment: all of them are thoughtful. I want to keep writing about an all-inclusive, comprehensive set of proactive and reactive measures to stop this epidemic.
Friend #1 wrote:
Commodification of women has to stop and artists, poets, advertisers, movie makers need to become educators in a way, exerting their power to demonstrate responsibility in the portrayal of women, children, men’s bodies as commodities on one hand whereas the right positive education through removing and rectifying stereotyping in text books (we had started some of that work ) from childhood and mindful education to adolescents esp. boys to understand the fragility of women’s bodies and the natural difference of creation between men and women – posters, banners,punishment etc can go on – but to bring change our society needs to inculcate care as against violence -there are no shortcuts I’m afraid but the task though large is very much do-able.
In fact much of the doings of the women’s movement in the years gone by are responsible for creating this generation of young protesters who are not afraid to voice themselves and claim the streets
Friend #2 wrote:
Partha- I am answering your question above on how to stop violence against women- we need to institutionalize the empowerment of women everywhere. When society as a whole frowns upon it rather than condones it, we will see it diminish.
She wrote again:
Society in India has institutionalized the abuse and marginalization of women there, Partha, and violence against women is no new thing- it has been with us throughout all of written history. We need to change the rules as well as follow the advice that others have given here.
Politically and especially ECONOMICALLY empower women- then you will see things change. Let’s start economically empowering women by acknowledging that a woman’s very real job of being a mother and running a household is not ‘private’ work that is worthy of no economic compensation. It is, as Oprah has stated many times, the most important job on earth, and in a world that depends on the monetary system for survival, it is a job that is deserving of dignified pay. We need to start acknowledging that ‘women’s work’ is real work and that it should no longer pay slave wages. Then, maybe the men of the world will stop treating us as slaves.
Friend #1 wrote here:
Let us try to break out of the paradigm of weighing everything through economic value , the woman’s role in society can never ever be compensated – let us think of happiness as the paradigm to be achieved as an example.
Let women not have to measure upto the man’s yardstick but reverse the paradigm – tilt the scales for a while before equalizing.
Friend #3 sent her thoughts:
Making short video clips of the different aspects of disrespect and its implication and reaching them out to the mass through MMS, television, community radio and also through NGO workers who has penetration in remote rural areas can be an option. Also I feel on personal level there should be more dialogue between the have and havenots. Lack of communication creates indifference and carelessness.
Friend #4 sent in his comments:
Start questioning and acting to change the cultural aspects that couches patriarchy at home. Second (if you allow) we need to take up community watch – ensure the beat cops/other cops/bureaucracy works by supporting those who need… this needs a strong community togetherness…
Finally, Friend #5 added in:
Passing and enforcing laws to protect girls and women is an important step. But the fact is education and culture must be addressed, worldwide, regarding the status of children, girls in particular and women to make the deeper and long-term change we all (writing here) desperately want. Politics, law and policy making are more immediate and central to more fundamental change. in my opinion.
In relation to some of the comments above demanding cultural shift in attitude toward women, I quote these lines from an American TV sitcom The Honeymooners (alas, U.S. media do not make such blue-collar, real-life shows anymore. Alice is the homemaker in the middle of the picture above. Her husband Ralph is the big man. He is a blue-collar worker.)
Alice: Let me tell you something. There’s an old, old saying Ralph. “Man works from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done.”
Ralph: (In a snooty voice) Good gosh!
Alice: You men just think you own this planet.
Ralph: Yeah but you women get your revenge. You marry us.
[From: A Woman’s Work Is Never Done, The Honeymooners, Season 5, Episode 4.]