VM:002/2013 : DR (SR) MUDITA SODDER’S VIEWS ON STATUS OF WOMEN, IN PRESENT DAY MOTHER INDIA.

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VM : 002/2013
8th, January, 2013
Dear Friends,
We have no words to comment on Dr. (Sr.) Mudita’s analysis of status of women in India. Read and analyze, yourself.
GREG
CATHOLICS FOR TRUTH TRANSPARENCY AND WEEDING OF
 CORRUPT PRACTICES AT PARISH LEVEL.
Rape

Rape (Photo credit: Valeri Pizhanski)

NEED FOR CHANGE OF MINDSET
On Sunday December 16, 2012 Nirbhaya/Damini/Aamanat was brutally and inhumanly raped in a Delhi bus by six men. She was accompanied by her male friend who was beaten up and left unconscious as she battled courageously with the six rapists and finally with life. Safdarjung Government hospital indicated that the severe internal injuries could have been caused by an iron rod which the men had initially used to beat her. 90% of her intestines were removed. Nirbhaya was flown to Singapore for treatment where she finally succumbed to death.
Nirbhaya is dead but rapes continue unabatedly. The problem with our society is much bigger. The sleeping nation finally awoke and took to the streets. Delhi is India’s “rape capital” with 414 rapes in 2010 and more than 600 in 2012. Only one in three reported cases ends in a conviction. Many police officers believe that victims are to blame and victims are so afraid of the police that only one in 50 rapes is registered.
It will be true homage to Nirbhaya’s memory if we are able to channel our emotions and energies into a constructive course of action. Can we analyse the problem? What are the symptoms? Behind the symptoms is a consciousness i.e. ideas, ideology, mind-set etc. When the self meets the other, what are the differences we notice? Besides culture, education, ideas, identity, religion, nationality etc.; Gender, Ethnicity, Economics and Mother Earth are the four most important differences we notice.
There are many types of relationships: Personal-kith (marriage), kin (blood), commercial, ecclesiastical, professional etc. Let us concentrate on Structural Relationships which are social relationships between groups or types of persons in a given society.  A structural relation is not based on occasional and individual patterns of behaviour, but on a permanent established and fixed type of behaviour between groups.
In these structural relations there is a power equation. It can be that of equality or of a dominant-subordinate, superior or inferior nature. Common use of words, actions and behaviour, forms an identity. According to this identity roles are given e.g. A woman in a Government office is the sweeperess, the girl child washes the dishes in the house. Cooking for example, if paid, is done by men, if unpaid then by women. These roles are further justified by Tradition, Scripture and Law. (E.g. St Paul in the Bible says –Wives be obedient to your husbands, Eve and the Fall or the Hindu Dharampatni, where the husband is the Lord (i.e. if a drunken husband asks his wife to take him on her shoulders to the prostitute’s house, she must. In the Ramayana, Sita is the servant of Ram).
If efforts are made to change these roles, sanctions are imposed e.g. Women were not supposed to ride cycles and thus whistled at or nuns were not supposed to be doctors. Anna Dengel the foundress of the Medical Missionary Sisters fought for this and won. In institutions of society like the Judiciary, Police, Business, Hospital, Government, Education etc., access to positions with higher status, decision making and money power is denied to women and later used as proof of her inferior identity. Often, this results in no struggle, no mentality change or paradigm shift and finally no social change in society.
However, when words, actions and behaviour forms are challenged, then new roles are claimed and a new identity is sought. When internalised dominant groups as norms of goodness are rejected, then equal social relations slowly emerge. We slowly realise that we are different, but we can treat all human beings equally.
The Rape Case in Delhi, India’s Daughter and Brave heart has created a challenge. What is the Challenge? What are the symptoms? The whole society is responsible. Men dominate women. Boys are sent for higher studies. Girls are not allowed to go out late at night. Boys play cricket, while the girl child is cooking food at home for the family. Big jobs are given to men, while the lesser, lower jobs are given to women. Men don’t like to admit that women do more work than them. Men don’t like to be told anything by women. Who is stronger? Women are stronger. She works the whole day in the field, cooks on her return home, and looks after the baby crying at night.
In the arena of jobs – Let us take the example of a hospital. Who are the most important people in a hospital? Who has the most status? Who makes the decisions? Who gets the highest salary? It is the Doctors. Therefore status, decision making and the highest salary goes to the doctors. Status=Social, Decision Making=Political and Salary=Economics.
When a boy wants to relax, he goes to the cinema hall, but if a girl goes to the cinema hall alone, she will be teased (whistled at). Who eats last in the home? When food is short who goes hungry? It is always the woman. Let us analyse the situation. What are the different images of women that we commonly see? Mother, wife, housekeeper, dance girl, model, cook, pin-up, religious sister, prostitute, Virgin Mary, Mother Mary, film star, school girl, sports woman, politician etc. In society what is the identity given to women? Women are generally given a negative identity i.e. weak, stupid, emotional, and dangerous because she can conceive a child from another man and this involves land and possession.
Words are very powerful and Identity is given by words. E.g. Where are you going? Mal dekne ja rahe hai (Going to see goods/objects). The identity given to a woman falls into three types of relationships:
1.       Higher than Human i.e. Goddess-where we romanticize the Ideal Woman, the stay-at-home mother, self-sacrificing, serves the husband, whose work is the well-being of the man, gharki rani, Lakshmi, devi etc.
2.      Lower than Human i.e. the Temptress, the one who is a danger to man e.g. randi (prostitute) bahari (deaf) korhi (Lazy) Langadi (with a limp) haramdari (deceitful) churail (witch). Bad words e.g. Ma ki —–, Behen —-, Bastard etc. all target the woman, rarely the man.
3.      Equally Human i.e. a two-way companionship, mutual intimacy, partnership, equality.
How are women used as objects? I.e. as an Instrument or Wastu
·         By which children are produced for men-khilauna (toy)
·         For men’s genital and emotional satisfaction-upbhog ki wastu
·         To have a nauker- safai ki wastu
·         To support the man’s prestige/ property of man – pratistha ki wastu (able to capture i.e. a 60 year old man marries a 20 year old girl
·         The body as an object for Exhibition- dikhawa ki wastu
·         The body seen as impure and defiling therefore the man goes to a prostitute but does not bother his wife (does not want to defile her).
Men want to control the bodies, labour and sexuality of women both in the family and in public life. They do this especially through the Media and Advertising images e.g. A skimpily dressed girl on a scooter. Both are mal (goods). Mostly fair skinned women are taken to advertise goods, never Adivasis, while gullible children too are used very often. The Television, Films etc. all give women an identity. Fashion Shows and Beauty Pageants do the same. The fewer clothes women wear the better. Religion too is no better. Men dominate (no women priests, no status for women religious etc.). The control of a woman’s fertility is also in the hands of the husband, the in-laws and society. In a land based economy and in the new cash based economy women share little in the productive world. Often they are house bound, have little or no share in family and community decision making etc.
The sorry state of affairs in India today, betrays the degradation of our moral values. Character building alone can curb this menace. Special training in honesty, fairness, a strictly no-nonsense attitude and the need to act quickly and decisively when the need arises for bureaucrats and police is the need of the hour. The police force and helpline managers need to realise that their indifference can be a question of life and death for the victim. Only then will bad elements in society lie low and the reluctant good elements of society feel more comfortable to approach them in times of real need. Laws leading to deterrent effects are important. Fear of law must be instilled into the hearts and minds of people, but this need to be done lawfully and not in a violent way. Fast track justice too is vital, for justice delayed is justice denied and Juvenile laws urgently need to be amended in order to rein in rapists  and criminals who get scot free with such heinous acts merely because they have not yet attained the age of 18 years.
Can we dare to CHANGE WORDS, ACTIONS AND BEHAVIOUR FORMS to give women their true identity? Can we allow women to claim NEW ROLES? Can we grant her a NEW IDENTITY? Can we allow her to REJECT INTERNALISED DOMINANT GROUPS AS THE NORM OF GOODNESS? ONLY THEN WILL EQUAL SOCIAL RELATIONS EMERGE AND RAPES COME TO AN END.
Dr (Sr) Mudita Menona Sodder RSCJ
Tarumitra Ashram and Bio-Reserve,
Digha Ghat, Patna, Bihar
5th January 2013

Blog :  http://www.silentmaj.wordpress.com

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2 Comments

  1. Ian D'Souza said,

    January 8, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    While I appreciate the national concern about Nirbhaya and the need for safety for women in our society, we should be careful when quoting the scriptures from the Bible. The following quote taken from the above article – “(E.g. St Paul in the Bible says -Wives be obedient to your husbands, Eve and the Fall or the Hindu Dharampatni, where the husband is the Lord (i.e. if a drunken husband asks his wife to take him on her shoulders to the prostitute’s house, she must.)”. The biblical quote is quoted out of context and gives another meaning altogether when read in the way quoted.

    The actual scripture taken from Eph 5:22, 24) read as – “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

    Only when quoted in its entirety will it be read and understood correctly. This is not mere “tradition” being spelt out here, but instead it is God’s divine order that has been established on earth. Yes, we agree that though written clearly, it is probably never followed in the way God intended. This is simply becuase Man has rejeccted Christ and His ways as shown in His Word. With the pre-dominance of sin therefore, the Holy writ is cast aside and the laws followed are that of sin that abides within the heart of man (Rom 7:17). As Jesus put it “out of the heart of man come forth evil thoughts of murder, adultery and all evil thoughts of immorality…etc (Mt 15:19). It is these that defile a man and lead him / her to such lengths such as rape….etc.

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  2. January 17, 2013 at 10:30 am

    […] Vm:002/2013 : Dr (sr) Mudita Sodder’s Views on Status of Women, in Present Day Mother India. (silentmaj.wordpress.com) […]

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