Violence against Women

Today: November 25, 2013.
When I saw a faint watermark of a ribbon (in the likes of the pink ribbon) on the Google page, it kindled the curiosity in me.

November 25

A click on the ribbon led me to this website:
http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/end-violence-against-women

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It said that year after year, 25th November and the following 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence culminating on International Human Rights Day on 10th December is observed around the globe, providing everyone a chance to create awareness and invite attention to contain the ever increasing violence against women and girls. It has always been there, but now more women have gathered couraged to raise the din.

November 25th 1960 also is the day on which the three Mirabal sisters who opposed the the dictatorial regime of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina aka  El Jefe, meaning The Chief or Boss, in the Dominican Republic were brutally killed. Incarcerated and tortured many a time for opposing the tyrannical regime, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa along with their driver were heinously clubbed to death. Their battered bodies were then piled in their jeep and run off the mountainous terrain to make it seem like an accident. The fourth sister lived to narrate the horrendous fate of her sisters.

Unwittingly and ironically, by ordering their death, Rafael Trujillo, invited the beginning of the end of his atrocious regime. Dominican-American writer Julia Álvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies (1994) is a fictional account on the lives on the Mirabal sisters. A movie of the same name was also made in 2001. In 1999 the United Nations paid homage to the sisters who were referred to as the “Inolvidables Mariposas”, the “Unforgettable Butterflies” by declaring November 25th as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The sisters thus have become a symbol against victimization of women – a scourge that needs concerted attention. Rape, domestic violence, inappropriate surveillance and strip searches, trafficking, gender discrimination, genital mutilation, female infanticide and foeticide, dowry killing, honour killing… violence against women is countless.

The statistics in the website are simply scary – some of which are:

  • One in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime.
  • A 2013 WHO global study points to the fact that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence.
  • Every year 2 million girls are thought to be at risk of genital

    mutilation.

Diana Russell, the sociologist, calls killing of females by males just because they are female as “Femicide”.

Did you know that activists all over the globe, governments, NGOs and communities have organized Orange Day actions calling for safety from violence at homes, schools, work places and public spaces? In 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. This aims at a special awareness campaign and activism against gender violence and through that Orange the World in 16 Days. Every 25th is to be observed as Orange Day according to the UN.

We need to raise this awareness in our own communities. Schools should be places where we can sow these seeds and help our girls look boldly, meeting the eye, and say a big No to violence inflicted on them. Catch them young, isn’t it?

Say No

Resources: 

 

Savage Ravagers

There is no agony like an untold story inside of you. ~~ Maya Angelou

Picture a little three year old gypsy girl…

Imagination sure will run riot! The picture of a little girl who is in her “magic years” comes to my mind’s canvas… a little one with a dusky complexion… wild unkempt hair because her mother cannot afford oil…
Chattering non-stop in a language that is soon losing its babyishness that would probably make her impoverished mother smile and forget temporarily the trials and tribulations of her dreary existence…
Living life in a make-believe world, pretending to make pancakes with coconut shells…Asking so many questions about things around her that will whet her curiosity…
Nimble hands getting used to handling small objects and thus perfecting her motor skills…Getting familiar with the concept of “I, me and mine…”
Boundlessly energetic and exploring world around her…
Enjoying blissful sleep huddled to her mother and waking up again to the beauty of another day…

Can we imagine such a girl? Eyes shining with a wondrous sparkle at the bright new world around her… The innocence of a sweet smile adorning her little lips… Tiny fingers and the frail legs that make her flit around as gracefully as a dandelion seed floating in the air… An embodiment of innocence with a disarming ability to trust everyone implicitly…

Normally, at the age of 3+ she would a pre-schooler. Perhaps running around the verandah / yard of an Anganwadi because that would only be what her poor mother could afford. No, here she was perhaps just tagging along holding the pallu of her mother’s sari for they belong to a nomadic tribe… leading a gypsy-like existence…sleeping in the street…

It is such an angel who was despoiled by a group of men! And where did this happen? In the literate shores of Kerala! In God’s own country, where men seem to behave worse than devils!! It is reported that the little girl was abducted at dawn when she was sleeping with her mother in the verandah of a shop. By the time the ant eaten little one was found at about 10 am, she had suffered inhuman aggressions on her tender body. She may be a gypsy girl. But doesn’t she have a right to live and that too to live safely and securely???

The whole world loves a child. But not these fiends… How can anyone even look at such a small little girl with such deviant lust??? What ails these menfolk? Have they no conscience at all? Reports say 14 of them were arrested and that they were drugs addicts and habitual offenders. So what??? If you take drugs, wreak havoc on your own body, not others. Respect their body temple. If you drink, ditto! Habitual offenders – you brutes have not had the real taste of punishment and that is why you repeat such foul acts with impunity. To those MCPs who say that women invite rape unto themselves, pray what provocation did this little girl give to be ravaged like this?

The little one is in the ICU, battling for her life in a Calicut hospital. She has already undergone two operations. There is the lurking fear of an infection. What will her future be? Will she make it alive from this ordeal? What emotional and psychological scars and trauma will be hidden in her persona as long as she lives?

Little girl, we beg forgiveness. I hope you will beat death on its face. I hope you will grow up to be a brave girl who does not blame yourself for what happened to you. Like what Albert Camus said, I hope, in the depths of winter, you will learn that there is in you an invincible summer. Let your light shine and be a source of strength and courage to all. Like a tiny bird through a storm cloud sky, a tiny piece winged its way through the chaos and I hope and pray that is YOU. I know it is easy for me to say all this while you suffer. But I feel your pain. I feel your agony. I feel your numbness. I feel your helplessness.

Well, can 22-female-Ks* of all ages wake up and do the act???? We must or we will never be able to protect our mothers/sisters/daughters from sexual assaults of such base creatures that are just worms of the veritable hell! When the state does not act, when law keepers cannot protect and when there is no justice delivered to very many sex offenders coupled with the snail’s pace of trials at even fast track courts, the only option seems to be taking law into our hands and mete out retribution, like how Tessa did. If you feel that I am exhorting for eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth dictum like Hammurabi, the Sumerian ruler did, my answer is: Yes, there is no other way out.

(* “22 Female Kottayam” is new generation neo-realistic movie where a woman with a ravaged body and a distraught mind plans a macabre yet much needed revenge against the one who ruins her and executes it with élan. It appealed so much to the angry woman in me.)

Anamika: The Nameless One

When the nation was outraged at the horrific gang rape, I sat numb with shock. I did not want to even watch television news – I knew the gory details will be splashed all over and haunt me in a long time to come. The inputs I got was from an occasional media report I read – and I was not sure if I should believe that. Most of the Indian media sucks… they dramatize issues and then push them into oblivion; they make a furore and never follow up; there is paid news and partisan news. So where will I get authentic information from?

Am sure the incident made the World to sit up and watch the horror tragedy that unfolded – thanks to the hooligans. And what a sullied image for a land that was at some time in the distant past considered the Deva Bhumi, Land of Gods! Recently (on 10th December) I listened to a video conference where the key speaker referred to India as a land of rapists. I was livid. Within a week’s time we proved ourselves that we were!!

I am not going to write about the rape and rave against it. Enough has been done already by the media – both the print and the visual. My thoughts at this time are just about the hapless 23 year old physiotherapist who bore the monstrous atrocity. The Press calls her AMANAT meaning The Precious one. I will call her ANAMIKA. The Nameless one. For it was her, on that fateful day. Today / Tomorrow it could be we or our mothers, sisters or daughters.

I am amazed at the love for life in this young girl. She has been abused most heinously; yet she is spunky enough to put up a brave fight with Lord Yama (the God of Death according to Hindu Mythology). And it looks as if she would be successful in her efforts. As I write this I understand that she is taken off the ventilator. May God bless her and keep her safe.

I wonder what life after will it be for her, once she recoups. For this is a country where rape is a word synonymous with stigma and ostracism; where rape victims are treated as if they invited the rape; where insitutions need proof to establish that the rape has happened to punish the guilty; where nobody spares them – neither the law and order institutions like the police and judiciary nor even the society. I see that the youth is solidly behind her – going by the visuals at the Raisina Hills and Parliament street today. That is so very heart warming. Thanks to the cyber initiatives that have woken up the average Indian from slumber and sent strong messages to the authorities in power.

However future holds some issues for this young girl: What physical challenges will she have to face? Intestinal transplant (sourced from a brain dead person or from a living donor) which is still in an experimental stage seems to be an option as doctors have removed her intestines to ward off gangrenes and subsequent threat to her life. That she is also showing early symptoms of Sepsis (Blood infection) is a dampener, however.

More than the physical aspects, what about the mental and spiritual aspects? Will she be able to walk around free without stares and jeers?

Will she be able to distance herself from the constant reminders that her private and personal space has been inhumanly violated?

Will she be able to lead a normal life? I guess she might also need countless sessions of counselling to put back the traumatic experience. Only time can tell.

The Shift has happened. December 21 has sure shifted the collective Indian conscience. Is this the beginning of the Indian Spring? Or is it the beginning of India’s very own Jasmine Revolution? Whatever it is, authorities better remember the collective power of the masses. If not, like today, they can only flex muscles and suppress; but won’t that give rise to many more uprisings which will be too hot to handle? It’s worth watching as to how things will shape up. Or have I said something too soon? Will this issue of safety for women be forgotten like many other issues that ail and flail our country?

P.S: To me this girl, ANAMIKA is a hero: An ordinary individual who has found the strength to persevere and endure in spite of thoroughly overwhelming obstacles. (Adapted from Christopher Reeves’ definition of a Hero).

P.P.S: God bless you my dear girl. May you heal in body and soul. May your pain cease and your strength increase. May you find strength to strive for better and the courage to be different. May your fears be released and may blessings and love surround you. The entire nation is praying for you and am sure prayers of over 1 billion people will have a positive and nurturing effect!

ॐ शान्ति शान्ति शान्तिः ।। (Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthihi)