D S Sodhi
Over the years, as civilization grew, patterns of socialization evolved. Our society wasn’t alien to the trend either. The social fabric underlying our community like in numerous other spaces is spun of Patriarchy. It has gendered division of behavior and role expectations. It is paradoxical because the religious identity that we take pride in, while acknowledging biological division between the two sexes, rejects the social construction of gender. It doesn’t promote pitting the two sexes against each either; rather it focuses on a harmonious relationship between them for nature to prosper. The logical assumption would be that to compare two physical concepts so different from each other is irrational, individuality is unique and universal, and there is scope for congruence and little for comparisons. Unfortunately, over time as the female gender was shaped to be one that is conquered with total disregard for cohabitation and contribution, the onus of honor was shifted onto feminity with the masculine being established as a sort of savior.
Our country, though being the cradle of civilization is presently beset with a number of social evils. These social evils are so numerous that one shudders to think of them. Saints and Social reformers like Guru Nanak, Bhagat Kabir, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Maharishi Dayanand and many others fought against the social evils. Some of the most prevalent social evils that need to be eradicated are, Restrictions on Girls in pursuing Education, Domestic Violence, Female Infanticide, Gender Inequality, Child Labour and Child exploitation.
In the present day context, we are threatened by the high rising cases of domestic violence against women. Some of us are even ignorant about the very definition of domestic violence and generally link it to physical violence. A simple definition of domestic violence also called domestic abuse, battering, or family violence is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic environment such as marriage or cohabitation. Domestic violence can take number of forms including physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious and sexual abuse. Globally, the victims of domestic violence are overwhelmingly women and women tend to experience more severe forms of violence. Domestic violence occurs when the abuser believes that abuse is acceptable, justified or unlikely to be reported. Very few people recognize themselves as abusers or victims because they may consider their experiences as family disputes that just got out of control. In abusive relationships, there may be a cycle of abuse during which tensions rise and an act of violence is committed, followed by a period of reconciliation and calm. Victims of domestic violence may be trapped in domestic violence situations through isolation, power and control, cultural acceptance, lack of financial resources, fear or to protect children.
If we take out some time and look around us, we are confronted with cases of robbery, murders, rape, domestic violence and what not. It is shameful and absolutely outrageous. The guiding principles of social conduct, norms of moral philosophy and rules of behavior that are supposed to create the human race are fading. With this, attributes like hatred, greed and violence are blanketing the universe and darkening the era of so called technological world. The malaise is known to be the fastest growing virus on its way to destroy the core of human values and the soul of humanity.
Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that the violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are faced into subordinate positions compared with the men. Domestic violence against women is a grave threat to the whole society. United Nations general Assembly in the year 1999 designated Nov 25 as the day for the elimination of violence against women. The magnitude of violence against women has reached alarming proportions in the country particularly threatening is the widespread prevalence of physical violence.
Every religion has spoken about the status of a woman as also her contribution in making the society a livable one. Well, defining a woman is not so simple; she is a mother, a sister. a daughter, a wife. Some of the important facets of a woman as have been described by holy people are very significant for the society to understand.
Mother Teresa has said “The woman is at the heart of the home. Let us pray that we women realize the reason for our existence: to love and be loved and through this love become instruments of peace in the world”.
Woman as mother commands great respect in Islam. The Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon Him) states emphatically that the rights of the mother are Paramount. Abu Hurayrah reported that a man came to the messenger of Allah (peace and Blessings be upon Him) and asked: “O Messenger of Allah, who is the person who has the greatest right on me with regards to kindness and attention?”. He replied “Your Mother”, then who? He replied “Your Mother” then who? He replied “Your Mother”, Them Who? He replied “Your Father”.
Bible (English Standard Version Proverbs 3: 15 – 18) “She is more precious than Jewels and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.
Budha on learning of king Pasenadi of Kosala being displeased that his queen had just given birth to a daughter rather than the desired son, reassured the king as ” A woman, O lord of the people , may turn out better than a man. She may be wise and virtuous, a devoted wife, revering her mother -in -law”.
Holy Bhagwat Gita also brings out that existence of men and women, souls, atamans and mother earth was essential for life to continue in cosmic system. In absence of one the other carried no value. One must learn to respect women, no matter what their fault if any.
Guru Hargobind Sahib, the sixth Guru of Sikhs referred to a woman as ” The conscience of man ” without whom moral living was impossible,
Guru Nanak Dev Ji has also given such a powerful message about woman “So Kyon Manda Aakheeyay, Jit Jamme Rajan”.
This is high time that the society and the law take a very serious view about the atrocities happening towards women. Our Prime Minister’s message “Beti bachao Beti Padavo” necessitated even in this century raises the concern about the discrimination towards a girl child who is going to be the woman tomorrow.
(The author is former Commodore
D S Sodhi