Women Need to be Seen As Leaders, Not Merely Victims
When you hear that the amount of reported rape cases in India have gone up around 900 percent in the last 40 years, are you surprised? Most likely, you are not. Since the barbaric gang rape that killed a young woman in 2010, news about unsettling violence and rape against Indian women is not terribly uncommon.
The women who are subjected to violence in these situations are constantly portrayed as victims, which they undoubtedly are. However, it is important that we don’t just focus on labeling these women as only helpless victims. Indian women need to become leaders in their communities and become active in dealing with this severe problem.
Before women can actively stand up for their rights, however, they must get out of the traditional mindset that many of them have. In January 2013, 54 percent of Indian women between the ages of 15 and 49 said that they think that their husband or partner is justified for beating them when under certain circumstances. Indian youth are also being raised in a way where this abuse is justified. In 2012, it was reported that between the ages of 15 and 19, 57 percent of boys and 53 percent of girls thought that wife beating was okay. Not much long term progress can be made for the status of women when over half of the adolescent population, the future of the nation, are fine with domestic violence.
Many grassroots organizations go around educating women about the Domestic Violence Act. Enacted in late 2006, this law ensures that the appropriate criminal procedures are followed through so that victims are provided with proper protection and help after confronted with violence within the family.
Organizations such as CORO (Committee of Resource Organizations) make it their goal to make sure the Indian people, particularly women, are aware of their rights and more importantly, to make sure they are fulfilled. One of their programs selects men and women to participate in a yearlong fellowship that helps them become grassroots leaders in communities. Fellowship programs such as these aren’t restricted to helping women improve themselves individually. They also provide the skills necessary for women to become active leaders in society.
Groups like CORO have had a significant impact in the significant increase in reporting of violence to the police, which is a great step forward. This is just the beginning. Women are taking an initiative to make sure they get the services and help that is their very right. Abolishing the unjust parts of traditional mindsets through education is the key to finally having Indian women shed their label as “victim.” Any positive progress will be a result of women becoming aware of their rights and making sure their voices are heard.[ImageAttribute: Flickr]