Dealing with violence against women
Nilratan Halder | Published:
November 26, 2015 22:15:09
October 18, 2017 02:23:25
Gender-based violence is a curse the modern civilisation is yet to get rid of. In fact, violence against girls and women is not confined to poorer and less developed communities alone, it has its manifestation in myriad forms in both advanced and less developed countries and irrespective of social status. What is surprising is that in some ethnic matriarchal communities living on the fringe, violence against women is an unheard-of matter.
In a world that has made tremendous progress in terms of science and technology, why then does the issue of gender discrimination prove so critical? So critical that the United Nations has to dedicate a day for elimination of violence against women and girls! Every year November 25 is observed as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. That the international community has recognised the existing inequality between men and women the world over is evident. Subjected to social and economic discrimination for long, girls and women will need centuries to be treated equal partners of their male counterparts.
How the discrimination affects them ranging from wretched women labourers or workers in countries like Bangladesh to the most glamorous sliver-screen world of Hollywood and Bollywood has become a subject of public scrutiny of late. Jennifer Lawrence, an Oscar-winning heroine of the present generation launched a severe attack on Hollywood's pay gap between male and female stars. A Hollywood A-lister and Oscar winner, she was paid much less than her co-star Bradley Cooper for her role in David O Russel's film American Hustle. The good thing is that Bradley Cooper endorsed Lawrence's view. Support came from many corners as well. But will it be enough to close the pay gap at Hollywood? Bollywood fares even worse than the American glamorous tinsel town. Deepika and Kangana Ranaut are vocal about the pay gap. A female actor in Bollywood earns only one-sixth of the amount a male actor does.
A look at the mundane world from the sparkling cine world will not give any different impression so far as the wage a female labourer gets for her works either in a crop field or brick field of Bangladesh. If her male counterpart earns Tk 200 a day, she can expect a maximum wage of Tk 120-150 for the same work depending on its nature. In government service, such discriminations are not visible but a closer look will reveal the turns and twists in service rules by which women's promotion and perks are curtailed.
In fact, in the economic and property right discriminations lies the seed of violence against women. It is quite wrong to presume that educated class is free from the bane. Not really. Even the highest degree holders with respectable jobs, women can be subjected to physical violence. In recent times, quite a few such tragic incidents occurred in the capital. In one such case, a university teacher pursuing her doctoral thesis in a Canadian university had lost her eyesight forever. In another such case, a Dhaka University student married to a serviceman lost her life allegedly in domestic violence.
Clearly, male chauvinism has a lot to do in committing such crimes. Financial independence is supposed to bring women out of the horrible domestic entrapment. But more than that, women are considered inferior species in societies where religious dogma as well as education without cultural sobriety gets the better of rationality and mutual respect between genders. Cheap literature, films and music videos -let alone pornography - today portray women as sex symbols. They are presented in a most lurid and objectionable manner before the uninitiated segment of people. The rise of sexual violence has its explanation in today's explicit portrayal of female body through films and music videos.
Again, it is money that does the trick. Money is mostly in possession of men. Among the world's richest persons, women have an insignificant representation. The same is true for any country at the national level. And this is despite women heading governments in a few countries. The truth is an overwhelming majority of women at national or internal level are deprived of control of finance -domestic or otherwise. It is because of this they are treated as the second sex.
Clearly, if it is anything, this civilisation is nothing more than one that is skewed enough to deprive about half of the population of a country or of the world. However, their contribution to families and society can be underestimated only at the risk of negating human progress. Each successful man owes it to his mother or wife or even someone beloved. The attitude of male members towards women actually sets the tone of social stability or the lack of it. It is not a clash of sexes that defines human civilisation. Humanity learns many of the qualities from women because of their motherly attributes. It is a crime to dismiss this as unworthy of appreciation. A person's journey towards enlightenment is largely dependent on this feminine influence.
Only those persons commit violence against women who are otherwise unsuccessful in their family life. In reality, they look for a scapegoat for their failure and the physically vulnerable ones are always at hand to bear the brunt of the savage rage of the discredited persons. The UN-sponsored celebration may raise the awareness of aggression on women but the recipe of its cure must come from within the moral standpoint of society. Education with an emphasis on humane disciplines tempered by healthy culture and entertainment is likely to have a discernible impact on society. This is how the gender gap will get narrowed down leading to gradual elimination of violence against women.