‘What do you want to do with her?’ screams the question accompanying the picture of a beautiful young teenager in a fake Facebook account. The responses to it are sickening and unreadable. It is apparent that the young woman had no idea where her photograph would end up or how it would be used, when she posed for it. This story plays out repeatedly over a million more fake accounts that tumble out of Facebook. Pictures and videos of unsuspecting victims are taken as they walk on the streets; as they shop; inside dressing rooms or even inside their own homes as they bathe, dress or worse still, as they respond to nature’s call. Videos of rape are circulated over Whatsapp. They are splashed irresponsibly all over social media for men to comment, letch and share as they please. The disgusting scrutiny of a woman’s body against her will is an act of violence. It is an invasion of her privacy an infringement of her personal space.
Any and every woman, it would seem, could be an unsuspecting participant in callous pornography. We read in the media of young women who take upon themselves this shame and are driven to suicide upon accidental discovery of this gross violation.
But then, this is just one form of the subjugation of the one half of ‘man-kind.’
Everyday, women face acts of violence against their bodies and their minds.
The dictionary defines violence as ‘exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse.’ Such injury and abuse could be either physical or verbal but they leave an indelible scar. The wounds never seem to heal, well after the end of the abuse.
Physical violence happens when a man realizes his own incompetence, his inadequacy or his impotency. Wounded pride gives rise to uncontrollable rage, which makes him strike and injure and in extreme cases resort to acid attack or even immolation. The easiest form of assertion of power it would seem is through physical subjugation.
The perpetrator of crimes against women reestablishes his sense of power through such acts of suppression. However, the ‘high’ that he derives is short lived (since it is not born out of any real achievement) and the perpetrator returns to acts of abuse to sustain himself.
Violence is also ‘to harm or weaken (something): to make (something) less effective’ This happens especially in verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is hurled during casual conversations or in altercations. Women’s sense of self worth is damaged through repeated assertions of their worthlessness, their inferiority, their stupidity.
At the risk of generalization, I would like to say that forms of abuse are class dependent. Thus violence, though uniform across all tiers of society, differs in nature.
Physical and verbal abuse is more prevalent in the lower strata while psychological abuse is dominant in the middle and upper classes. Middle class and upper class women suffer from the ’Super Woman’ complex- where they struggle to perfectly fulfill the many roles they take on and yet are afraid to be found inadequate. This takes a toll on their health and causes anxiety and chronic depression. Everyday they live with abuses that question their performance at the work place and at home.
Middle and upper class girls and young women suffer body image trauma each time they are called fat, ugly or dark.
Violence against women is growing astronomically as more and more women come to inhabit public spaces. The forces of modernization and urbanization erode and destabilize existing equations between the sexes. Women study, work hard, and have come to occupy positions of power. They have gained economic independence and taste a freedom hitherto unavailable to women of previous generations.
Violence is the first reaction of men who struggle to come to terms with this change. But the way forward is for men to learn to accept the change, learn to work alongside women, learn to recognize and respect the equality between the sexes.
This article is written by the writer for 6th Women Scream Art and Poetry Festival, Kolkata Chapter.
About the Writer:
Dr. Bhuvaneshwari Shivakumar Shankar is a poet, translator, short story writer, playwright and blogger. Her short stories have found a place in anthologies brought out by Notion Press and Readomania. Her poems are featured in the anthologies Kaafiyana and Umbilica Chords. Her writings can be seen at http://www.ilakea.blogspot.com. She lives in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with her family.
For more information on Women Scream please visit the following pages:
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/WomanScreamFest/?fref=ts
Rhythm Divine Poets in association with Art Fair celebrates the strength of woman on the occasion of woman’s month in March by promoting art and poetry festival in the city of Kolkata. To raise voice against violence on woman is the mutual goal. These associations will lead to Rhythm Divine coordinating Kolkata chapter of the global event called Woman Scream International Poetry and Art Festival on 26th March by Women Poets International Movement (Mujeres Poetas Internacional MPI) from the Dominican Republic, and coordinated by Jael Uribe, MPI’s President.
The Kolkata chapter is co-sponsored by Incredible Women of India, Manya Education Pvt Limited and The Princeton Review hosted by the Berlia family in Kolkata.
Print partner SIBCO Overseas Pvt Ltd and Admakers
Gift sponsored by Readomania
Radio Partner Radio One 94.3FM
Online Web media partner Incredible Woman of India and Calcalling
Print Partner News Beat
Online media and literary partner Readomania, Learning and Creativity and Being Bookworms
Partnered by Hamari Sanskriti, Wordsurfacing and Ahava Communications