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Structured protests along with change implemented by the state is the way forward: Jasmeen Patheja


Updated: March 7, 2013, 8:01 PM IST
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Structured protests along with change implemented by the state is the way forward: Jasmeen Patheja
Why is the govt dismissive of marital rape?

Why is the govt dismissive of marital rape? Women's rights activist and founder of Blank Noise Jasmeen Patheja joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.

Q. Given our patriarchal systems and mind-sets that exist - dowry, goonghat, bangles, nose-rings et al (vis-a-vis NO symbol at all to show that a man is married) aren't we still at a very basic stage of evolution as far as women's rights and equality are concerned? When marriage is for a large section of our women and their families the be all and end all of a girl's life does not the concept of martial rape seem too much further on the evolutionary curve at the moment for Indian society and therefore obviously for Indian 'vote bank' politicians to bother about? Asked by: c4conscience

A. Women have to be seen as citizens. As half the population. With the right and power of vote. As autonomous beings. With a right over their body, even if they are married or in a relationship. A no means a no. Marriage is a choice. A partnership between 2 equal adults. We need to make that shift in the way we see women.

Q. Is it because that rape becomes licensed after marriage that the government does not want amend the anti rape law? Asked by: priya

A. It's difficult to get women to report or speak about marital rape. We need to build testimonials and share them to raise more awareness on the issue of marital rape. We need to keep reminding the govt that we haven't forgotten. This is where we assert our citizenship. Stay outraged. Ask for change.

Q. Why is the government unwilling to include marital rape in the new anti-rape Bill? Asked by: riya

A. Just found this piece by Flavia Agnes: http://accusedwww.asianage.com/debate/my-body-my-wish-980

Q. Are there any studies/surveys as to how pervasive marital rape is in India? Asked by: Rakshita

A. Marital rape goes highly unreported. http://accusedwww.asianage.com/debate/my-body-my-wish-980 Sharing this article again and quoting from it: Ranjana Kumari " European Union data suggests that 25 per cent of the rapes there occur within marriage. In those countries usually people choose their own marriage partners. This is largely not the case in India. So, a straightforward extrapolation may not be possible from EU statistics. Nevertheless, we can hardly afford to be complacent and assert that the incidence of marital rape is insignificant here."

Q. There should be an organization to hear out rape cases of victims and this organization should take their cases forward to courts and police.In this way many women can can come out of closet and get relief. Asked by: sriram

A. There are organisations working with domestic violence. They are working per case, providing legal services as well. In Kolkata, there's Swayam. Delhi there's Jagori. Just met with Aali in lucknow who provide legal services for women experience domestic violence in Lucknow. Women need a safe space to be able to share their experience of domestic violence and rape. Often we find that there are provisions but lack of implementation. Lack of information that it even exists. Just came across this artist- Peggy Diggs who shared information about domestic violence/ helpline through milk cartons; http://www.artpractical.com/images/uploads/I25_Frock_Diggs.jpg

Q. Do you think the failure of women organising themselves into a vote-bank has cost this? Asked by: Prachi

A. To be seen as mother, sister, daughter or wife only is problematic. It positions you in relation to another male member who primary role is to protect often due to the construct of protecting 'izzat'. We need to move out of this paradigm. To build a relationship with our cities. To be visible. To take public transport as a choice. To be seen in the space of citizenship. To demand, question and ask. What is the govt's plan to make cities safe for women? The next election is coming up. Ask. Remind. Remember- we as citizens.

Q. Do you think women's movement in India needs to have a political bearing to have its effect felt? Or will such post-structural protests bring in the results? Asked by: Kritika Deshpande

A. This calls for a 360 degree urgent approach to change. Each of us can influence change from where we are, but that cannot happen in isolation. Structured, strategised or spontaneous protests along with change proposed and implemented by the state is the way forward. Have you ever asked your daughter if she would one day be in the police? It's part of the same process- we need more women in public service, govt service. And we need transparency, accountability in the system too. Was surprised to learn that only 4 per cent of the entire police force in West Bengal is women. The protests are playing a huge role in mobilizing and articulating the sentiments of the larger public. The govt cannot ignore them- we need to keep at it. Yet they cannot exist in isolation- and as I say this I truly believe in the ripple effect.

First Published: March 7, 2013, 8:01 PM IST
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