War on women
No one in this world can match the amount of patience and benevolence a woman bestows upon those she loves. Then why are women living in such deplorable and appalling conditions? Women have always been subjected to violence at the hands of their male counterparts in almost every part of the globe. What is it that makes men behave in such a contemptible way towards women?
Isra Bhat tried to find the answer to these questions from writer and journalist Sunny Hundal, author of the recently published book “India Dishonored- Behind a nation’s war on women.”
Isra Bhat: What was the key motivation behind your book? Have you witnessed any incident where a woman was being abused or maltreated which made you bring these issues to light?
I have been writing on Asian and particularly Indian women for quiet a long time now. I have also made a documentary for BBC. It was based on Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani women who were married in the UK and because they were not good at speaking English, they had to face domestic violence. I have written on the issue of forced marriages in UK which are quiet prevalent.
I used to live in India until I was 13-years old. Since then I have spend a lot of time travelling to different countries. In 2008 I spent a lot of time travelling around India and witnessed several unsolicited incidents.
For example, there was a maid whose husband was a drunkard. He used to beat her regularly. This was very unacceptable to me. While travelling I could see men teasing women. I felt disgusted and I nearly got into a brawl in two instances as I couldn’t just stand and watch it. These incidents inspired me to write about such issues.
Why did you choose to write your book on India and its women?
Firstly, because I am of Indian origin and secondly, I want the men from India to speak against this massive problem. They need to bring a change in the way they behave with women.
We have to ally with women to change the prevailing attitude towards them. These problems in India are much bigger than in any other country. The disparity between men and women is very alarming. Thanks to the latest technology, girls in India are killed even before they are born. They are killed just because they are girls. Nothing can be more brutal than this.
Everybody just speaks about the intolerable behavior of men towards women but no one contemplates the reasons that are responsible for all this. What according to you can be the basic psychology behind this behavior of men?
One can only speculate as it cannot be easily measured. In my view, the problem in Indian culture is the issue of honor. This is not necessarily common in India only; it’s also prevalent in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
When they say women should be honored, they mean that women should be controlled and fit into very narrow ideas of behavior. There are certain issues like if they wear western clothes they are somehow impure and can be taken advantage of. We have put women into very narrow categories and anyone who deviates from these categories is an easy target for others.
What, according to you, should be the approach of males towards their female counterparts?
I think it’s important for men to change their attitudes and part of my book also mentions that we need to change. The most important thing is to empower women. Men won’t give away their powers so easily but to me, women empowerment is the crucial thing to do.
Women need to feel confident and that they are capable of being independent. They should come out of their stereotypical image that the best thing they can do is to marry a man. Until and unless women don’t come forward to get their rights no one will be able to help them. They should have the courage to demand independence and to do whatever they feel like.
Your views regarding the women are quite open in your book. How was the response from people in India and Europe?
The response was quiet good but the problem persists. I want this message to reach the villages and other places were these problems are common. My job was to try and inform people and to start a debate. Indian politicians should take stronger actions and bring about change in their cultures, traditions and attitudes.
Being a man, what is your message to the other men in the world, particularly Indian men regarding violence against women?
I think that women should not be put in a situation we try to control them. My view is that women have their own independence and men should be secure enough and willing to not control their lives. This will neither help us nor them. Women should have complete independence. They should be able to do whatever they want to. India has a major problem in terms of how we behave with women. There is a massive sex disparity in the ratios. All these social problems arise from the way we treat women.
Any future projects? Do you intend to do something for women who face the consequences of such social problems?
Yes, of course. As a journalist and writer my job is to bring these incidents to light. I will regularly highlight what is going on in India and other parts of the world through my work in the UK. In future I would like to do campaigns on women issues and I will try my level best to do everything I can.
Interview: Isra Bhat
Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
Isra Bhat is a research scholar at the University of Kashmir in Srinagar. She has been awarded a two-month long fellowship by the Friedrich Ebert foundation (FES) in Germany and is currently in DW, Bonn. You can get in touch with Isra at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date21.08.2013 | 9:23