This month is being observed in the blogosphere for spreading awareness about violence against women. You can read about this initiative, survivor stories, and articles from other bloggers at Violence Against Women Awareness Month 2011
Women face violence in many forms and in different places. Domestic violence from husband and family members is very common in the economically weaker strata, and it is out in the open. I do not remember ever having a maid who did not complain of violence at home. But it is also glaringly present in educated, well to do families, behind closed doors. These are the cases, which seldom come out in the open for these are considered internal family matters, and are kept under wraps in the name of family honour.
Then there is the harassment faced in schools and colleges, public places, and workplaces. In most of the cases, women are conditioned to ignore such incidents. Some cases spiral out of control and result in attacks on the victims.
The newspapers are full of stories where women were victims of some kind of violence. When I read any heart wrenching story in the newspaper, I wonder. What if someone had intervened, or the victim had the courage to speak out in the open, and seek help, some tragedies could be avoided.
Here are a few things that I would like to share to do my bit to support the cause.
1. Intervene. I had written a post about an incident which I had witnessed and had intervened. Immediate intervention of some nature diffuses the situation and helps the victim. That is what the “Bell bajao” campaign was all about.
2. Counsel. If you know someone, a friend, a relative, a servant, a neighbour, who is facing this problem, encourage and counsel them to seek help by speaking up against it to other members in the family or relatives, or the Police, or social organizations. Domestic violence is NOT an internal family matter. It is physical assault – a crime punishable by law.
3. Be aware and spread awareness. At workplaces and educational institutions, as per the Vishakha Judgement passed by the Supreme Court of India in 1997, there must be a Vishakha Committee for inquiry and redressal of complaints related sexual harassment. Encourage anyone who is suffering from workplace or campus harassment to find about this committee in their organization or institution and approach them.
This is a very unpleasant and horrible issue. People usually do not like to discuss it, and it is just easy to look the other way. Like an ostrich burying its head in sand when faced with danger. But looking away does not resolve the issue. It is very much there – and if it is not nipped in the bud – in our own mindsets, on a large scale, it will only get worse, and you never know when it will get too close to home.