“There remains what seems like an impenetrable wall of silence around violence and we must all play a role in breaking this silence.” – Reese Witherspoon
Crime and violence against women have shocked and impacted everything globally for ages now and continues to be one of the major concerns of the world. Several countries have stringent laws to prohibit crimes against women and I would like to believe that often these laws are upheld and adequate justice is served. Several societies are recognising that a major cultural shift that lays emphasis on the values children and young adults are taught, is the only way forward in tackling the issue at its very root.
While, we still have a long way to go in achieving a world where girls and women can freely walk the darkness, there are a few things we can change in our own space that will greatly impact the way our world shapes out to be. What’s important to note is that with ‘we,’ I don’t imply the government or the larger society, but what each of us can contribute towards making the world a safer space for women.
We often say to a woman who feels (or has felt) sexually harassed at some point in her life that she should voice out her concern. However, we often ignore hearing those voices. When a woman confides in her best friend, her mom, her teacher, or colleague, she is often told that she should learn to ignore or forget that it ever happened and move on. I feel that this is one of the major factors in stigmatising the crime against women.
A lot of places where heinous acts against women happen are never well lit. Ensuring passageways and corners of the streets are well lit will alleviate, if not eliminate these acts. Consequently, I feel that we don’t need the government to put up the streetlights for us. We can, any day, in our communities, contribute funds to light up the streets of our locality.
No one can deny that men and women are different biologically. Not producing (or negligibly producing) testosterone and hence being weaker in built should not be the reason for becoming a victim of sexual harassment or assault.
A major chunk of violence against women is attributed to the financial dependency women have on men. Also, women must always have cash in hand to deal with emergencies. Cash is probably one of the undervalued players that can help facilitate emergency shelter, food and subsistence.
Organisations and corporates can play their part in ensuring there is an effective gender-inclusive policy of sexual harassment at workplace. Each one us has a part to play in building an organizational culture, and the other way around.
This is pertinent especially for the people in creative space, such as those involved in theatre or films and media must take a stance to stop portraying women as weak and (only) glamorous and shift the focal point to them being real, strong role models. In fact, I would go a notch higher in suggesting that content that strongly objectifies women should be shunned even at homes with young impressionable minds present.
Ideally, this should be the starting point. Awareness must begin at home. It is always easier to inculcate the right values during childhood than trying to bring out a change in the mindset of an adult. To conclude, I believe that even though we have a long way to go, giving up is not an option. What needs to be shrugged off is the attitude of not wanting to do anything because we believe that it doesn’t matter. We can’t change the whole world. It’s too big and most of it not Under our direct control. But we can change one thing at a time, and that one thing will have a domino effect and gradually but surely, the world will change.
If you had the time again, what is it that you would change?