The other day I was well settled on my chair. Early dipping of temperature was an ordeal. I decided to beat the cold with some tweets. Suddenly, a tweet popped on my screen posted by Jennifer Vaughn-E. (@delesmuses).
Beginning three words were enough to attract my attention. “Fight sexual abuse!” I kept wondering for how long women will suffer from violence: A question that has been left heard but left unanswered.
Being a South Asian, I completely understand magnitude of this message. Sexual violence is pervasive and sporadic in the region. Violence against women (VAW) has gone unabated since long.
A study carried by Partners for Prevention, a regional joint programme of the UN Development Program (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women and United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program in Asia and the Pacific entitled Why Do Some Men Use Violence against Women and How Can We Prevent It? Quantitative Findings from the UN Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific has revealed the following facts:
Of those men [10,000 men in Asia and the Pacific] who had admitted to rape, the vast majority (72-97 percent in most sites) did not experience any legal consequences, confirming that impunity remains a serious issue in the region.
It is a pity that man think women as a commodity to commit crimes. Even some sections of male population perceive sexual abuse as a synonym of their masculinity. Men think that they can escape from crime. They should not forget that committing crime brings no happiness and rather looked upon as a criminal.
Sadly, submissiveness on the side of family members and societies have augmented violence against women. In most of the cases, family members and survivors are reluctant in sharing violence occurring in their day to day life owing to fear of isolation.
On most days, newspapers in almost all South Asian countries report shocking atrocities – girls/women raped by a neighbor, relatives, groups and gangs.
In my personal understanding, sexual assault or sexual abuse is not only problem of women but of the whole society. However, the South Asian society, what evidences suggest, is not always proactive to create pressure to bring guilty to book. Neither government in this region is committed to implement the laws effectively to end sexual violence.
Interesting fact is such incidents catch public attention and cause public outcry for a while but public forget so quickly that the victim cannot conclude the case in effective manner.
The vicious picture of rape was revealed by BBC report on January 5, 2013. The BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi recalls some other prominent cases which made the headlines, then faded from public memory. Synopsis from her report
The rapists sometimes escape with a light sentence because a judge accepts their argument that they committed the crime because they were drunk, or that they were living away from their family, or they had a family to look after, or that the accused was a high-caste man who could not rape a Dalit – low caste – woman.
“But campaigners say laws alone may not be able to solve the problem in a society which treats its women as “second-class citizens” and regards them inferior to men.
They say until social attitudes change and women are respected and treated as equals, the gains from the protests will be shortlived.”
The point is: the gains from the protests will be shortlived. As an independent global citizen, I support the campaign launch by Shruti and her organization Sayfty. Her approach is very sustainable that aims at allowing women take charge.
In this backdrop, Shruti Kapoor, founder of Sayfty has come up with a vibrant idea: ‘Empower women in India by helping them take charge of their own safety’. With this, I should not forget to thank Shruti for her novel initiative:
Hello, my name is Shruti Kapoor. I am the founder of Sayfty; a startup that helps women in India protect themselves against violence and abuse with the help of personal safety products, self-defense training & awareness.The horrific gang-rape of a physiotherapy student in December 2012 in New Delhi, India shook me to the core. The brutality of the incident opened my eyes to the fact that India indeed is unsafe for women. While looking for information relating to women’s safety, I came upon a disturbing fact: In India, a woman is raped every 20 minutes. (For more: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/empower-women-in-india-by-helping-them-take-charge-of-their-own-safety)
In my personal understanding, violence against women (VAW) is not limited in a single country. Forms of violence may be different from country to country but the woes that we share are common. We want our women and girls to live a dignified life and create an environment free from all sorts of abuses. I believe that our fight for justice should not be halted and we must continue for our part.
Let us all support her ideas from our level. If not us, then who? And if not now, then when? Let’s come together and join hand to end VAW.