It is well known and heard of that India has a high amount of violence against females at the hands of men. News as such is commonly broadcasted on television, subjected for documentaries, and spread widely on various internet sources, but one element that we pay little or no attention to is understanding why men feel pressurized and/or find it acceptable to harm women, and why this happens specifically in the country of India. When an individual feels obliged to meet societal expectations and to follow previously planted social norms, one may partake in extreme behaviors such as abuse to maintain or increase their status in society.
India’s virulent history of abuse against women is in fact not history at all due to repeated trends of male dominance that have been idealized in recent years, suggesting that abuse of women is not only an event of the past in India, but rather an event of the present as well. Since the beginning of time, the social structure in India has been continually seeing men at the top in terms of economic positions, social status, and political power. The gap between men and women has had a large impact in rearing a male driven culture as “India ranks 134 in 2011 among 187 countries in terms of the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) and Gender Inequality Index (GII)” (Align,2012). With inequality statistics as high as this, it is logical to make the assumption that women are viewed as minorities, as well as the vulnerable sex whom men deem as the ultimate victims of abuse.
Disturbing social norms that still remain pertinent in some people’s minds are one of the leading causes of India having a rise in male dominance. Men who grow up to be abusive have most likely seen or heard abusive manners in crucial developmental stages of their childhood, often times in their own household, thus repeating the abuse cycle. Indian men are often raised with the belief that because one day they will have a family of their own, in order to be a reputable man in the house, he is required to be dominant, aggressive, unemotional, and abusive if necessary. “Based on interviews with 9,205 men and 3,158 women, the study found that the average Indian man is “convinced that masculinity is about acting tough, freely exercising his privilege to lay down the rules in personal relationships and, above all, controlling women” (Dasgupta,2014). Common circumstances that abuse is considered applicable to is when a woman is denying/depriving a man of something (i.e. food, care services, sex, etc.), a woman has disobeyed a man, a woman is saying no to a man, a woman has failed to satisfy a man, or every so often, being a woman is reasoned enough for a man to mistreat her.
Amongst the variations of abuse faced by women, the most common type is domestic abuse, which is described as “the inflicting of physical injury by one family or household member on another; also: a repeated or habitual pattern of such behavior” (Webster). Domestic abuse explicitly focuses on acts committed by family members such as parents, spouses, siblings, immediate family, and relatives, and it also may be the most popular type of abuse depicted my men because it is likely they witnessed accounts of domestic or were victims of it before acting it out themselves. Reported cases of domestic abuse have included acts of “men who force women to sleep with them, slowly empty out their bank accounts, and then force them to sleep with them again. Men who force women to have unprotected sex with them at night, and force emergency contraceptives down their throats in the morning. Men who rain repeated blows on their wives’ swollen abdomens and end their pregnancies. Men who force their wives to watch graphic videos, and then submit them to the painful acts they depict “(Ravindran, 2016).
It can be argued that men develop abusive lifestyles as a result of attempting to meet the societal criteria of masculinity and/or hyper masculinity built in south Asian culture, but why is it that women in India, despite living in the most unsafe country for females in the world, do not take action to further prevent violence against themselves as well as other female victims of abuse? The answer to this question in simple terms is again, the presence of strict informal laws that are implanted in the minds of these men and women, men are required to dominate, and women are required to be dominated. These ideologies can be compared globally, for example, in a country in North America such as Canada, male dominant societies are frowned upon, and although there remain high levels of inequality in some regions, there is essentially no tolerance for abuse against any individual, and engaging in any abusive activity would most likely result in severe legal consequences such as jail time. Men involve themselves in violent activities because of the lack of discipline and corruption that is contained in the legalities, authorities, and police force in India. It is not rare for women in India to report abuse and receive no assistance from those who’s means are to protect the citizens of the country. Officers in India are regularly bribed to close cases of abuse that were never opened in the first place. The superficial issue in this circumstance would be the officer itself, but the leading cause to blame the officer would be the ignorant attitudes that are deeply rooted in Indian society. If morals, ethics, and values were to be considered in this situation, then the so-called respected police authorities in India would have none.
Gender based upbringing is key to that individuals future endeavors. Once young girls become aware of the gender norms afflicted upon them, they begin to realize that they must resemble their mothers, aunts, and other female relatives or acquaintances who portray the image of the noble life, whose life becomes dedicated and dependent on her spouse. Since childhood days, girls in India have sought permission and approval from their male relatives, and are likely to have experienced some type of abuse, thus the likelihood of similar patterns repeating through marriage is not unusual. The nurture of girls in India represents high tolerance for abuse afflicted by men, and “The National Family Health Survey found that 51% of Indian men and 54% of Indian women found it justifiable for a man to beat his wife”(Bhalla,2012). As individual genders, it is shocking enough that both genders increased the 50% mark, but what is more outrageous is the fact that women actually increase the half way mark by 4%.
Women have been taught to be the backbone of her husband, to always support him despite the situation, and to obey him under all circumstances. If she were to speak out against him, her husbands, her family’s, and her own reputation was at stake. “The National Family Health Survey-III (NFHS-III), published in 2005, found that while 37.2 percent of women who had ever been married had faced spousal abuse, only 2 percent sought help from the police. According to the same survey, about half of these women ended up in hospital at some point owing to the violence they experienced” (Ravindran, 2016). Women facing extremes as such do not openly converse about these alarming and often routinized struggles as it is a question of the woman’s self-respect, dignity, and may tarnish her marital status, all which Indian principles has announced as the most important aspects for a woman after marriage. Indian woman who decide to turn to divorce as a solution are often bribed, threatened, and out casted from others around them as divorce in Indian culture is the second most shameful event to occur in a woman’s life, after rape.
Although the largest root problem of the abuse conditions in India is the attitude and taboo that circulates around the concept of abuse against women, it is widely recognized that education can solve many, if not, all problems especially for those living in low status societies. Girls having greater access to education would result in independence before and after marriage. Women would be able to afford and accommodate themselves, and would have little to no tolerance for abuse. Empowering women through educational admission would build self-confidence and allow young girls to have greater aspirations than just marriage. With the “literacy rate for women sitting at 65% and for men at 82%,” (Saaliq,2018) it is noticeable that this is a large gap for small numbers. Greater education fulfillment accomplished by men would also evoke greater understanding of human rights, ethics, and integrity. An equal balance of education between both genders would result in a progressive Indian society rather than a backwards one. This can be seen as rates of violence are lower in cities of India such as Mumbai, where there is promotion towards education and schooling, compared to smaller scale cities such as Punjab, where the majority of the female population does not have access or permission to attend school. Being at equal positions would reduce the male dominance notion that still exists in countries like India.
One of the leading causes for high rates of abuse occurring amongst certain areas and ethnicities over others is the continuous buildup of social conducts that are considered normal and are encouraged throughout generations. In order to see transformation in cultures that are routinizing abusive behaviors, it is necessary to put an end to directly blaming the individual for their actions. Progressive thinking begins at looking at the cause of the problem followed by the effect, which in this case is the normalized and degrading attitudes that yet remain embedded into the culture of India. It is vital to understand the social structure that individuals have been surrounded in, and according to that, it is easier to make connections through how that specific social structure affected that individual, and according to that, what did that individual reimburse into society.

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