It is time the national media in India (Yeah , the same celebrated fourth estate who were told to leave Nepal soon after the devastating natural calamity for their exceptional reporting and responsibility!), the senior journalists and someone from the ruling party (again! the same celebrated right wing fertilized by the same media!) start addressing the issues of patriarchy in India. We don’t need more ‘save daughter’ programs, we need more ‘save sons’ programs. We need more lessons on gender equality, we need more measures to eradicate objectification of women. The three fold objectification of women; as an object for reproduction, as an object for sex, and as an object for subjugation must be eliminated from the mindset and culture of our subcontinent. Across all classes, all religions, and all castes patriarchy is one thing that holds the diversity united. It must be replaced with gender equality.
Patriotism cannot be a counter argument in a debate about sexism, and they cannot share one platform in discussion. When a non Indian makes a documentary where patriarchy reveals its horrendous face through the many male members, it should be enough to alarm the responsible authority to identify the problem and take immediate measures. And no, the measure is not to ban the documentary! It was the opinion of many social activists as a collective that we don’t need bans.
Here is a statement, “in every twenty minutes a woman gets raped in my country. But no one else outside the country can say anything about it. I love my country.”
How does that sound? Appealing or revolting? If you found that appealing enough then it is time you check your cognitive abilities for rational thinking and analytic skills. I have not seen the video where Burkha Dutt tries to flaunt jingoism when the topic of India being unsafe for women was being discussed. But from the articles that I have read it is clear that we once again had a jingoist trying to mask the problems by not addressing them and by pointing at other people in an international platform. Something like an ad hominem on a country basis! It is a huge logical fallacy that any rational thinker could dare to adopt in any debate or discussion.
Try to accept the fact, the patriarchy in India is unsafe for women. YES, period.
There is no running away from it. In India women cannot travel out after dark without being terrified of getting raped, without getting vulgar comments, without being groped or whistled at, without being a victim of voyeurism. Not just after dark but during daylight also this is not a rare scene. This is part of our daily lives. College going girls are street harassed on daily basis by our own ‘naughty sons and brothers’, working women are street harassed by young and old men alike, wives are subjugated by husbands, sisters by brothers. Yet it is all accepted and encouraged. It is deep rooted, it is concrete and extensive. Admit it. Any feminist from India who says anything but this is not being truthful. They are trying to paint a shabby wall with sparkling colors, so much like what our government is doing with economics.
India is unsafe for women, from the blackest to whitest, from the richest to the poorest, trans sexuals to unborn female fetuses it is unsafe. If data does not show you that then look deeper into who collected the data and from where. If statistics does not show you that then go do a pilot study on how many rape and street harassment cases never make it into the data. If rape cases are not reported that means they are not reported, it does not ensure that there are less rapes. When someone says the plain fact that India is unsafe for women there is absolutely no point in retaliating with arguments like but US is more unsafe or UK is worst! Does that solve the problems of women in India? No it doesn’t. In fact it makes the problem worse. By trying to suppress the facts, by trying not to address and evaluate the conditions, because you are too proud an Indian, you are only going to help patriarchy to trample the women gender farther and wider.
Barkha Dutt seems to have quoted Amartya Sen in saying there is more crime in the west against women, and statistically proven. Amartya Sen’s article does a deep analysis on the gender disparity and crime rates from comparative perspective with east and west. But so what! For argument’s sake let us say crime is more somewhere else in the globe, does that mean we hush up anyone who tries to talk about the problems we face in our country?
It doesn’t matter if the entire world is eating crap, that does not give you an excuse to force feed crap to the women in India, nor does it nullify the oppression that Indian women suffer on a daily basis. In a woman’s life there is always the shadow of patriarchy, and no it is not that sweet shadow from the Brahminist Manu Smriti which made you believe it is for the woman’s good. It is a form of slavery, that is gift wrapped as protection. It does not make women independent but it makes women into some fragile feeble creatures that needs to be protected by the alpha males. By advertising protection from men by men you are just making a fool of yourselves. What India and Indians need is a dose of truth and the readiness to accept it. If a TV show in the US says India is unsafe for women, you should be prepared to discuss it. You should be able to pinpoint the causes, to reveal the culture that flourishes itself on patriarchy, and you should be able to bring into light any tiniest situation where women broke free from patriarchy. If this is not your approach, you are being an advocate for patriarchy and a patriotic patriarch at that.
we need more discussions, more documentaries, more data and more tangible measures to get to the root of the problem and get rid of it. Our women are not going to be safe on the roads if they carry around a flag and sing national anthem when a rapist attacks. Our women are not going to be safe from getting beaten the pulp out of them by husbands or fathers or brothers or lovers by saying ‘hey the crime rate is more in US so you go to US’. Our women are not going to be independent financially, not going to excel in career and academics by following the teaching to be a good Indian girl and get back to the kitchen. Our women are not going to be citizens in the forefront of a rational society if you give a sword in their hand and teach them martial arts in order to protect ‘foreign invasions’ against self and society!
It doesn’t matter if a Wendy Doniger wrote some historical facts from her research about the misogyny and casteism in the Brahminical religious order. You don’t counter it by banning or by wishful thinking that ‘during vedic times women enjoyed much respect’. Whatever history was, we have a rotten garbage which exists in the present society that has to be addressed. So who cares if women were treated as goddesses in vedic times (though the status of being a goddess sounds tempting, I should point out the fact that Evelyn Reed once said; “Sanctity and degradation are simply two sides of the same coin of the social robbery of women under class society”.) With the religious fundamentalist party ruling central government it has become a fashion for people to say anything and everything in the disguise of guarding the honor of country and parade themselves as patriots. Fine, freedom of expression, but that is not going to help eradicate the abuse women face in the country. When the so called senior journalists and cultural spokespeople start defending patriarchy using patriotism it is just the reflection of how much deep rooted the problem is in India.
I am an Indian citizen and a woman. It does not make me any less Indian to admit the fact that India is unsafe for women. It is unsafe because of the patriarchal culture not because it is India. I am not part of that patriarchy which oppresses women and I do not have to be ashamed one bit for pointing out the cause of gender inequality and the extent of it in India. I am an Indian, and a militant feminist and I do not think running away or taking a hiding from openly discussing about patriarchy is the rational way to gender equality. Try saying this to a woman who was raped and is fighting for justice that ‘be glad you are not in the unsafe-er US’. That is what you are arguing for in effect, and it is not in any way logical. Be it a Barkha Dutt or anyone for that matter, you are not helping at all by engaging in logical fallacies.