The weakest of homes are those who condone Violence.

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DomesticViolenceImage

Blame the girls for provoking violence in their homes. Blame the girls for displaying such behaviour that will evoke violence. Blame the girls for their actions which are the cause of domestic violence taking place in homes. Never blame the father, husband, brother or uncles who inflict harm on women. Never blame the perpetrator who causes a bruise on a woman’s face which she later has to conceal from the world. Don’t blame the perpetrator who doesn’t stop kicking and punching a woman while she cries and begs him stop. This is the mentality in our society that was present 60 years ago and disappointing to say it is still present today.

The weakest of homes are those who condone violence. Those who resort to violence as a means of exerting power and ‘placing women in their rightful position’. Domestic violence is one of the most common crimes which mostly occur against women in a matter of a few seconds. You can’t build a home upon violence and expect it to stand strong when women fear when their next attack will take place. When they will endure new scars just after the old scars have faded away. Violence can easily be dismissed and ignored by measuring the seriousness of the actual act. A slap or a kick will be categorised as minor attacks but what they are failing to realise is each act whether it is small or big is affecting women internally more so than externally. The bruises and burn marks will slowly fade away on the outside, but who is to say the damage that it has caused internally is being treated? See, the violent attack should not be measured based on how much injury it inflicts but should not be even classified as a resort by any means.

 The weakest of homes are those who condone violence. Those who believe they have the responsibility to teach women a lesson by any act whether physical or emotional harm. Those who believe that women will only ever understand once they are battered and bruised and fear for their life at the hands of family members who are meant to protect, respect guide and guard her, not harm her. If women are scared in their own homes, what does this say about women’s right to life? Right to at least feel safe and secure in their household and not fear when the night comes. What man can harm a woman in the darkness of a night leaving her to bleed as he scars her for life?

 The weakest of homes are simply those who condone violence.

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Rape in India. Why the sudden focus now?

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Sonam Kapoor

It is no secret that in recent times, regular headlines are focused on rape in India. There has been a sudden increase on press coverage regarding the vital issue of rape and violence against women in India. As much as this is a positive thing as it is raising awareness, the question is why now? Why is the issue of rape being brought to the platform now when it has been occurring for many years and spiralling out of control but has simply not received enough media coverage? Was it not an important issue before? The sudden increase of press coverage has come about after the tragic gang rape incident in Dehli in 2012 on Jyoti Singh Pandey. Jyoti was beaten and gang raped by 6 men on a private bus and thrown out in an attempt to run her over. She was hospitalised for three days and died as a result due to the severity of her injuries. The incident generated widespread and international coverage on the treatment and attitudes towards women. What is disappointing is that it takes a tragic and fatal case like this for society to finally stand up and say this is an issue and we must call for action. Was it not necessary to take action prior to 2012 for all the other innocent rape victims? Did they not deserve justice or protection? Although the case caused uproar in the community against rape and violence, the message was still not strong enough to perpetrators as rape incidents unfortunately continued.

March 2013 – Couple who were cycling were attacked by 8 men, tied up and gang raped the female victim in front of her husband.

August 2013 – 22 year old journalist was gang raped by 5 men including a juvenile in Mumbai while on an assignment

The more recent extremely upsetting case took place in May 2014 where two young girls aged 13 and 14 were gang raped and hanged from a tree. Three men had been arrested and confessed to the rape and murder of the girls. Two additional suspects who are police officers were under investigation for their suspected involvement in the crime. The list of cases can go on for pages but the common ground amongst these cases is that the demeaning act still occurs.

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As much as the media and the Indian government try to persuade us that action is being taken to toughen the laws and attitudes towards rape and violence against women, it is still evident that there has been little change in ‘rape culture’ and men’s treatment towards women in India. Is the government to blame for this or the men in India? That is open for debate and depends on you. The issue of rape and violence against women has been a severe issue for many years and is an on-going issue. There is simply not enough media coverage to cover the severity of this and nor does it seem to be helping to tackle this issue. The biggest question yet is what action will possibly reduce or even eliminate the issue of rape and violence against women. Does such an act exist that can achieve this? Tougher laws? Death penalty? Challenging men’s views? Government to blame? This is a question I ask myself everyday as the experiences of innocent female victims of such tragic incidents affects me terribly. Young children and adults having their respect and dignity stripped away and losing their life at the hands of what can only be referred to as animals. Despite tragic cases being the headlines of every newspaper and news channel, it can still be said that there has been little change in rape culture, men’s treatment of women and brutality against women.

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This is for those innocent victims in India whose name and story did not make it on the news. Those who did not receive justice or protection. Those who were just left as a file on a police officer’s desk amongst many other files. At least you are now safe in a better world than we are.

namaste

 

 

 

Once upon a time in Pakistan…

 

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Being a regular visitor to my home country, Pakistan, I am able to witness the daily lives of women and their experiences. As much as I would like to say that it is all positive, it is evident that Pakistan till this day is a patriarchal country which reinforces the inequalities between men and women. Pakistan most certainly has positive elements which is why I am a regular visitor; however, in regards to women’s treatment and their status, it is simply appalling. The restrictions and limitations that are enforced on women abolishes their rights to education, employment, freedom of speech and simply living the life they dream of. Although one can argue Pakistan has improved in addressing women’s rights, there are still rural areas existent that fail to consider women’s rights. My experiences while visiting Pakistan are core elements to my overall view of women’s rights. Not to be mistaken, sharing these experiences is not a way of criticising Pakistan overall as previously stated there are aspects of the country which I adore.

Living in the capital city, Islamabad, very rarely am I able to witness women’s experiences in rural areas. I had the opportunity to visit a village when I visited Pakistan in 2011. The outlook was completely different to the city, deprived of little things that we take for granted. Internet, Tv, computers and many other things. During my visit I came across a young girl, probably around 14 years old playing by herself outside. While talking to her I asked her what grade she is in. She looked confused and wasn’t sure what I was implying. I explained my question further, asking her which school she attends. She started laughing and responded ‘’Yahan kaun school jata hai’’ (who goes to school here?). She went onto saying her father did not allow her to attend school or educate herself as it seemed ‘pointless’ to him. A girls duty in his eyes was to become a loyal wife and look after her husband and the household. Be a carer. Not a career woman. She went onto further explain she has been engaged for over a year and will be married soon. At the age of 13, her life was signed away to a man without any input from her. No questions. No room for views. This was her ‘destiny’ as her father would probably say. A young girl denied the opportunity to educate herself, socialise with peers, learn skills and possibly qualify in a desired field is a clear example of the inequalities still in practice today.

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In some areas the focus is still on marriage and women having a passive role. For a parent or a carer to dismiss the importance of a child receiving an education or labelling it as useless reinforces the patriarchy. Boys are allowed to educate themselves. Why is it important for them to receive an education but not girls? Because it is still believed that there is no place for a woman in the field of education or employment. The young girl brushed off any signs of hopelessness or unhappiness but it was still present in her eyes and the way she spoke about her arranged marriage. She must wonder how her life would be if she was allowed the opportunity to educate herself and do a degree. To be imprisoned in the house and have no access to the outside world, how isolated must a girl feel?

I do wonder sometimes about that girl. Is she happily married? Is she still living the imprisoned life and only answering to her husband? How has her life become now? For me to be able to live the life I want and to make my own choices and for her to have all her choices beforehand can really impact on perspective. It is a common statement to say you should always appreciate your life when comparing to others but it is such a vital statement that must be taken literally. How different would your life have been if things were different? If you were brought up in a different country where women’s rights simply did not exist or taken seriously? If you can’t be thankful for what you have, be thankful for what you have escaped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shame. Respect. Honour.

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imageShame. Honour. Respect. The three words nearly every south asian woman has heard in her household and has been valued more than necessary or reasonable. The lucky ones are only reminded verbally of how important it is to uphold the family’s honour. As sad as it is to say, the unfortunate ones are physically attacked, murdered and are victimized for breaching the family’s value of honour. Many women across the world of all cultural backgrounds become victims of traumatic attacks such as acid attacks, female genital mutilation, sexual abuse and sadly victims of murder. Why? Most importantly, was the victims act severe enough for somebody to decide that her life must come to an end? 99.99% of the time the answer is no. To be honest I personally don’t think that 1% even exists. The only person who believes the reason to end a woman’s life is justifiable is believed and seen by the attacker. Reason? Because she failed to uphold the family’s respect. She acted in a ‘shameful’ way dare I say. She didn’t abide by the family’s values. And of course the famous one, she brought shame to the family and community.

The problem with south asian families is they would rather suffer anything else than being disrespected or have any act that will tarnish the family’s reputation. I focus on south asians as I am a south asian woman myself and can relate immensely. But this isn’t to say that this doesn’t apply to women from other backgrounds. Of course. I am sure many women can relate to this. The funny thing is that people love to blame it on religion. ‘But this is what my religion says, to do anything to protect the family’s honour and be respected’. Pfft. It’s nothing else but culture. Culture is socially constructed to whatever people may wish it to be. Those that have the audacity to blame religion are simply deceiving themselves and others.

Samaira Nazir. 25 year old graduate died after trying to run away from her family to marry an Afghan aslyum seeker. She was dragged by her older brother who with help from a cousin stabbed her to death 18 times.

Shafilea Ahmed. 17 year old girl who was murdered by her parents and had her body dismembered because they believe she was becoming too ‘westernized’ and did not agree to the marriage that was arranged by her parents.

The list of honour killings and attacks can go on forever. These two stood out for me. Why? Due to the unreasonable, petty and pathetic excuse these families provided to ‘justify’ their reasons. It’s sad to say that I don’t know how many extreme honour killings and attacks have to take place in order for people to realise this is a vital issue and is practiced on a regular basis behind closed doors. As a Criminal Justice graduate, my interest heavily lies within domestic violence, sexual abuse, honour killings, forced marriages and many other areas. My post today was heavily inspired by the short film called Honour Diaries. A group of Womens Rights Advocates getting together to discuss the seriousness of this issue. It’s a must watch to learn more about what women go through in various countries.

 My reason for this blogpost today? Simply because…

 “I raise my voice- not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”