Violence Against Women in India and Pakistan….Again.

                                                   

 

Yesterday I read of a 25 year old woman, five months pregnant,   who was stoned to death by her relatives in Pakistan.   An “Honor Killing”. It took her family over 60 minutes to kill her. A horrible death made worse by the hands of ‘family’. Her crime? She rejected the ‘arranged marriage’ and married ‘for love’ according to her father. However, this husband killed his first wife to be with this one. Apparently, women in Pakistan are disposable property. He was acquitted because his sons ‘forgave’ him. This is part of the Muslim law in this country. Again, women have no standing or safety from the violence of men.

Today I read of two young girls, cousins, aged 14 and 16 who were gang-raped and hung from a tree.

Have these two countries descended into medieval savagery? No, it seems these things are ‘business as usual’. These countries haven’t left barbaric savagery. This is not unusual behavior of men (and either condoned by police or even in the case of the Indian girls, part of the gang rape.) in these countries. It comes from the religious and political laws of one country (Pakistan) and the traditional mentality of another (India). If that sounds like an over simplification of social and religious norms in these two countries, so be it.  I am sick and horrified in reading of these crimes against women and girls, and even young boys.

These two young women, more girls than women, were from a ‘lower caste’ (Untouchables) as reported by the BBC. When their fathers went to the police, they were ‘abused’ because when they were asked their caste, and reported it, the police berated them. They refused to take the fathers seriously. 

This hanging of these two young girls happened in a rural village of Uttar Pradesh in the north of India. A ‘reason’ sited by Indian officials for these crimes is that ‘the absence of internal toilets makes these women have to seek outside fields to relieve themselves and they are prey for waiting gangs of men.’

Interesting. So the lack of toilets are to blame for these crimes, not the mentality of certain men in India.

What it points to, besides the mentality of men towards women in India, is the caste mentality that pervades India’s social and legal system. The caste system is ancient and is used to oppress and control and intimidate the lower “Other Backward Castes” (as defined in police logs) by the higher caste orders.

Three ‘lower caste men’ and one police official were arrested (or detained) for these murders. But if Indian laws follow suit, they will not make much progress.

For the past two years we have read of the killings, the rapes of numerous Indian women and some Europeans who have fallen into the hands of  men. I recently wrote a longer entry about this, titled “On The Misogyny of Indian Men” on my blog. I see that it is still being read and I see that it is being read by people from India. It is not my task in life (or ability) to answer these enormous issues but I can’t help but be horrified that they exist in such measure today in India and other countries. This was once the land of Mahatma Gandhi. Where I can I will use my blog to make readers aware of these incidents. That is the very least I can do.

As far as what others can do I would suggest reading up on the caste and social issues of India in particular. Some educated people have expressed to me that they didn’t realize what was happening in India. And some Indian men here in my country have laughed, or shrugged their shoulders, and said “this behavior was commonplace, and it would ‘go away’ with a bribe.” That was my young Indian born dentist. He is no longer my dentist. It might be ‘commonplace’ in his country of origin, but it is nothing to smirk about or attempt to joke away. Not in my country and certainly not in my presence.

There is no excuse I believe for writers or poets, these people in my milieu, to claim such ignorance. Our existence as poets/writers goes beyond the issue of ‘art’. We are also blessed with the ability of our words reaching out and spreading knowledge, making people think and act on these enormous issues.

And internationally, we must act.

Finally, I am thankful that I know and work with Indian men who are writers and especially poets who are aware of these conditions of caste and social conditions. Though they are sometimes embarrassed, confused and silent, they do feel the horrible weight of these horrible things.

The fruit hanging from that mango tree
was a strange fruit
Barely blossoming, not yet women
two girls swayed in the breeze
and men ringed that mango tree
and blocked the road
and my eyes saw the horror,
my heart cut deeper than Hell.
I who have no daughters
would claim them for my own
would feed them butter
would decorate them with jewels
would love them to the ends
of the Earth,
would stand beneath that mango tree
with two swords and kill any man who
would hang children from these low branches.

With my own hands I would send them to Hell.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

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15 Responses to “Violence Against Women in India and Pakistan….Again.”

  1. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Just a quick reply now Jane, as I’m on my way out, but I’ve been SO horrified this last week by the GLOBAL violence against women, down to the misogyny expressed in Elliot Rodger’s “manosphere.” India and Pakistan, what’s happening there is savagery. It’s beyond comprehension how people can do these things. More later. love CS

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi CS….yes, it is horrifying what we are witnessing. I have no answers anymore….But! I do know that any thought of traveling to India is out, out, out. The veneer of delight with India is long gone. It is a nation of extremes and frankly, barbarism, and it’s not a question that tourists deserve to be comfortable, but that Indian citizens are pawns in the usual game between politicians. Women and children are sacrifices to this very medieval civilization. There are more cellphones than toilets in India. Something is very, very wrong. With each report of such incredible violence, it strengthens my resolve to boycott all Indian products, etc. Until the entire world takes notice of the incredible human rights violations in India and cuts the money flow to the corrupt there….the situation will never change. Perhaps it will never change anyway. The Indian intellectuals seem to be themselves mired in class and caste issues.

    Thank you for reading and your comment, CS. So good to hear you.

    Love, Jane

  3. czbz Says:

    Hi Jane,

    You are no coward, daring write about this topic. I really do not have much knowledge about the Indian culture but Indian misogyny has been mentioned in autobiographical writings when writers pontificate about their spiritual awakenings. They also make a small fortune on their books if they’re really good at denying reality, pretending to be enlightened.

    I think these narcissistic folks are in love with their “illusions” about an exotic culture they believe has all the secrets to spiritual transcendence. When I listen to american-gurus drone on and on about their mystical trips through India, I get out my DSM and start checking criteria for NPD. Call me cynical but spiritual transcendence is a good cover for “escaping reality” and until people open their eyes and get some grounding under their feet, women will continue to be tortured, murdered and stoned without 21st century consciousness.

    I am horrified by the stories you’ve recounted in your article. That uxoricide is permissible as long as sons give their agreement, may be obvious in India; denied in the USA. In the USA, we prefer divorcing old wives and leaving them without social security in their old age and if they complain, tell them they “shoulda worked” all those years like their husbands did. In a narcissistic society, divorce is pretty close to killing her although we consider it more humane, more civilized than stoning.

    It is painful to even think about misogyny as a global system that has strangled every culture in overt and secretive ways. Why men would fail to see “her” (their mother) as a human being speaks to the power of cultural misogyny so ingrained in the human psyche that it appears to be normal and right.

    Blessings,
    CZ

  4. ladynyo Says:

    Damn, CZ, just lost my reply to you…this damn computer! But I agree with everything you said.

    A few weeks ago I saw a program about an Indian guru with followers here in Utah or Oregon and a bigger fraud-monster you would not find. “Escaping reality” exactly. The gullible pay and pay with more than money, they wreck themselves on the rocks of their vulnerability.

    These followers of these ‘exotic’ gurus have no knowledge of Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, George Fox, etc. These are Christian Mystics, and because they are not alien exotics they are pushed aside. (though they are foreign and exotic to me in the reading….amazing mystics all)

    Further, it is amazing to me that so many Americans run to these gurus and their alien religions (and with no understanding of what Hinduism, Buddhism, Baha’i, etc really are) yet they know nothing of the Christian mystics above, nor have I would guess 99% of them ever read something as seminal as Evelyn Underhill’s book “Mysticism”. Now that is a course study that takes more than throwing flowers and chanting.

    this is a bit of a detour, but for some reason it fits for me:

    Something of this danger came home to me a couple of months ago, when a young woman contacted me (through a couple of social media sites) about something I had written about the Zar ritual. I realized that even writing about this ritual could cause some extreme difficulties to raise their ugly heads. This young woman wanted to talk (and me to write about on my blog) her experience (I believe she was Egyptian) at a zar where she was ‘thrilled’ that she had crushed the neck of a chicken under her foot during the zar ritual. Something about the blood, etc….really worried me and I realized that there are things that just don’t ‘translate’ from culture to culture. Plus, the Zar ritual can be so misused by women and people with no real understanding of what it actually is. Again, just because something is ‘exotic’ doesn’t mean it is …good. Was bad for that chicken.

    It doesn’t take courage to write these articles, CZ, it takes outrage. and we all have that in our back stories. The tangle of narcissism and misogyny in our society is a reflection of a world that really is savage and barbaric. The dismissal and treatment of divorced women is part of that misogyny. We both know this personally. We have barely proceeded from the dark ages on so many issues, especially around women and the treatment of women. These countries, India, Pakistan, much of the Middle East and Africa, with also the female genital mutilation practices have much to answer for.

    Yes, it seems as you have pointed out that cultural misogyny is so ingrained that it seems normal and right in more than these societies. The only thing we have to do it keep shining a light on these practices, raise our voices, continue to write when we have the chance, use our blogs to expose these situations and support women who suffer….our hearts can bear little else but the suffering of 52% of the world.

    Blessings back my dear and wise friend.

    Jane

  5. TR Says:

    Misogyny is global; in some cultures it is wrapped up neatly and tucked away to look like a really ‘nice’ thing. When what is inside is similar to the ugliness that is blatant in many cultures such as Indian culture. CZ says it well “It is painful to even think about misogyny as a global system that has strangled every culture in overt and secretive ways.”

    Awareness is an important step; Much of the information that is reported is such a small percent to what actual happens there. There are so many rapes and killings (dowry deaths) etc. that a lot is hushed up, shrugged off. We see only what gets reported because someone happen to get a hold of the information who thought, wait a minute, this is unjust and sick. In Western culture some rapes go unreported simply b/c the woman is bullied to keeping silenced or paid off.

    Even in cultures like Sweden (which seems that the differences between man and woman are blurring) there is hatred sitting there. Stieg Larsson points this out in his works.

    Narcissism and misogyny are by no means with one culture it is indeed global. Some are better at hiding it than others.

    That is wonderful for sharing this to a wider audience and the poem is touching.

    xxTR

  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hi TR….agree with every thing you write here. It is a global disgrace, no country gets away with being innocent of this horrific behavior.

    It’s tied into cultural traditions and I believe also religious traditions. Misogyny raises its ugly head in all religions, and I am thinking of what I know best, the Christian religion. But all cultures are guilty.

    Yes, you are also right about Sweden. The literature lately shows this brewing. It is deep within that culture as it is in all cultures.

    I hope more American bloggers take up this issue: Our awareness of these things can only be a help in ending them. And this done to 52% of the world’s population says something about our civilizations: we aren’t.

    Thanks also for reading that poem. It was something that I was compelled to add, as being a poet sometimes is the straight line to the issue: others do it so much better in their long words.

    Love, Jane

  7. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Hi guys,I’m with TR, misogyny truly is global. And it’s structures are built into cultural institutions. Americans tend to treat horrific instances like those recent atrocities in Pakistan, and India as “one offs”; but such denial continues to permit women and girls to be abused beyond belief by two thirds of the planet. In INdia it’s also built into caste system thinking, which is still firmly entrenched. TR can speak to this more than I; but I’m hoping at some point enough women around the world will be enraged enough about this to do something. Too many women get dragged into complicity; think of women performing genital mutilation on their own daughters or granddaughters. Women participate too much in this as well. I don’t know what it’s going to take to turn this around but the time of accepting such brutality in the name of “cultural diversity” is long past. I don’t give a damn about cultural traditions when they involve mutilating and killing and burning and raping women and children.

  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Cs….I can’t but agree. And that misogyny appears in public ‘offerings’ such as “50 Shades of Grey”, the bdsm scene, and the apologists for it…well, it’s based in sadism. And misogyny.
    There are so many tentacles of misogyny and what we are seeing in India and Pakistan just are getting the attention right now.

    Our own society here in the US has much to answer for. We have a robust class system, and I wonder how really different this is from the caste system in India? Not much in many ways.

    And I agree about women being dragged, or being complicit in misogyny. Look at our own mothers. The three of us have quite deep backstories on this one.

    Yep….’cultural diversity’ is a two sided sword. Look at the ‘traditions’ in Muslim countries concerning the plight of women. This is nothing but barbaric behavior, traditions cloaked in religion.

    Nobody is saying that misogyny isn’t global. It’s just veiled (or not) in different countries. We might (now) not be hanging young girls from trees, but look at the misogyny of rap music and cultural behavior (and also the complicit behavior of women in that culture) and it screams misogyny…which is just naked hatred of women.

    More people need to be using their blogs to write about these things…and to point a way forward.

    Thanks, CS.

    Jane

  9. TR Says:

    Hi Guys! Indeed – our own mothers are testament to continue the hatred of women. CS, you bring up a good point on this in countries where there is mutilation of the woman. This is performed by the mother herself. Men hating women has been around for a long time and has developed into modern culture with rap songs and books (that is good point Jane). What is worrying about today is that women contribute to this as well in Western culture. CZ in her recent post points to this idea of the new found liberation of women and that women continue to fulfill the needs and desires of men. And I can see that women are bullied and silenced and that they have their own battles to face and would be difficult to fight against if living in such a culture for fear of death. I do agree with Jane, that help in stopping the physical cruelty is from outside that culture. Even when I was growing up in ‘Little India’ I didn’t know that I was oppressed until I learned that no one has a right to dictate what happens to my body. No one.
    Hugs, TR

  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hi TR! A true blue testament to the cruelty and misogyny of cultures. Your own experience gives proof, I like to say ‘blood’ to these issues.

    Actually, the genital mutilation of young girls, some as young as 5 years old is done today in disregard of some countries national laws: Turkey outlawed this practice but it still remains.
    When I was a belly dancer, I met and danced and was in a troupe with women from Egypt, Somali, Algeria, Morocco. After a time, a few of these adult women talked about their experience with mutilation and to speak plainly, it was shocking what they were subjected to. In parts of Africa today many women are thrown out of their villages because they ‘stink’. In other words, they carry long term infections and they are forced by the same people who did this to them to live in reed huts or somewhere where they aren’t seen or stumbled upon. I have talked to a female doctor a few years ago who administered to some of these victims. But too many die from septic conditions.

    A few years ago here in Georgia, a mother from Nigeria and her two young teen daughters were slaughtered: she was outspoken about the fgm practice in Nigeria, didn’t want her young daughters to suffer what she had, and fled to the US for safety. There was a contract from Nigeria put out and all three were slaughtered. I don’t remember the exact details except it happened here in Georgia, but it was shocking enough. I remember reading or hearing that her husband was a political prisoner in Nigeria and was killed there.

    Yes, TR, you strike at the very fundamental issue: when women are living in such a society, any culture that enforces the silence and obedience of the women of that culture through fear and intimidation and death, it is hard for them to do anything. That is why the rest of us who don’t live in these conditions, or had a certain amount of freedom to speak out should. And I don’t buy the argument that ‘look at your own culture and what happens….shut up until your culture is clean of these issues” That is just a way to silence us and a way to intimidate. That has been done to me on my blog when I took up some particular issues…and I don’t tolerate it.

    By the way, the royalties of my second book, “The Zar Tales” goes to a women’s group in Turkey, set up by my former bellydance instructor. No one will get rich off of this, but I thought this was the best usage of this money. A drop in the sea.

    Jane

  11. TR Says:

    Oh man, that is incredibly sad.

    That is a coercive statement and it is a way to silence others. A tactic found in politics.

    That is wonderful that the proceeds are donated. Any amount helps.

    Hugs, TR

  12. ladynyo Says:

    Yep…politics is nothing but coercive statements lately…a way to make the masses shut up and sit down under threats of everything they can throw at them. So it seems…Misogyny is the basis of all of the above.

    Yes, this question of Female Genital Mutilation is not something that just happens in ‘backward’ African tribes, but all over. There are stats I read that every 15 minutes a girl somewhere is mutilated. There are 4 ‘stages’ of mulitation, and people think it’s ‘just’ the removal of the clitoris…bad enough by any standard, but the mutilation goes on and is extreme. I don’t want to go into details here, but people can research this terror for themselves…and the end result? It’s just a tool of total control of women by men…especially the husband. Take away the natural function of sexual response by this mutilation and all I can say is you are left with women who are destroyed in spirit and life. This is to control the woman at the very fundamental level. I can’t think of a worse horror for a woman to be submitted to.

    Well, the royalties have slacked off on this book but so it goes. I have recently decided to reconnect with my old belly dance troupe and instructor, Aya. Hard work, a lot of energy expended but great women. I have a few short stories about them and might post one soon.

    Hugs, Jane

  13. Domestic Violence Victims | www.jyotipandey.org Says:

    […] Violence Against Women in India and Pakistan….Again … http://ladynyo.wordpress.com/Violence Against Women in India and Pakistan….Again. fed0b-turkey_vultureontree. Yesterday I read of a 25 year old woman, five months pregnant, who was stoned to death by her relatives in Pakistan. An “Honor Killing”. […]

  14. profrksingh Says:

    I agree with you, Lady Nyo, that there is an urgent need to act internationally to create the right environment for negotiating the bestial and criminal mindset of rapists in India. While sex education is badly needed to protect the prospective victims both in the rural and urban areas, the police, bureaucrats and politicians also need to be more responsible in articulating their ‘traditional’ views.

    Isn’t it silly to blame the mobile phones or computers for rise in rape cases? How can girls wearing jeans or shorts invite men to rape them? If a boy of 13 rapes a girl of 7, or a matured man rapes a girl child or aged woman, it is not a simple issue of misogyny or medieval practice. It is a complex issue which needs a strong parental attention.

    We need a thorough change in people’s attitude to sex and sexuality. We need a fresh study of sex crimes vis-a-vis sexual starvation, flesh trade, pornography, and sociocultural values related to gender equality. We need to shun hypocrisy and respect the rights of girl child.

    –R.K.Singh

  15. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Dr. RK!

    Thank you for reading this article and your thoughtful comment.
    It is especially important for Indian men to take a public stance on these horrific issues. Thank you, again.

    First, I agree that sex education is necessary for any society. But more so, the behavior of politicians, police and bureaucrats should come under international scrutiny. It doesn’t seem that there is much of a push against the backward and misogynistic statements that we read internationally from quite a number of Indian government officials, blaming women, lack of toilets, cellphones etc…for the horrific crimes against fully one half of Indian population. Yes, there are more cellphones than indoor toilets in India and this allows young women and girls to have to relieve themselves in fields where disgusting men lay in wait for their passing. This last horror, of the two young girls hung from a tree demands more from the international community than just condemnation of these men: it demands fast and civilized action from officials, and this is NOT what people in the rest of the world are seeing. We see red tape, the blaming of victims, everything except the outrage of the masses of bureaucrats. How can the rest of the world take the Indian government seriously? We seem myriad excuses.

    “If a boy of 13 rapes a girl of 7, or a matured man rapes a girl child or aged woman, it is not a simple issue of misogyny or medieval practice. It is a complex issue which needs a strong parental attention.”

    I understand your statement referring to the 13 year old boy, but a matured man raping a girl child or an aged woman IS a issue of misogyny. It is a disregard for women, period. It is barbaric in the extreme and in the first rank.
    To me, it is not such a complex issue needing strong parental attention. It is a moral and legal issue demanding immediate punishment. Children should be taught by the parents better, but what we are seeing in India isn’t this at all…certainly not in the masses. It is a complex issue of disdain, disrespect, hatred, etc. of women in general. It is based upon religion (all religions have a certain misogyny built into them….Christian, Hindu, Muslim, etc.) but it is also the traditional mind thought of men and behavior towards women. Mothers don’t help much here, I believe. In fact, Indian mothers can be some of the most misogynistic people in their behavior towards their daughters.

    I certainly agree we need strong re-education in people’s attitudes towards sex and sexuality. Indian woman and children need strong protection of their human rights: and the police, who seem to be a big part of the misogyny here, should be ‘policed’.

    Thank you, RK. It is a heart wrenching situation in India and Pakistan and many other countries. And it won’t end any time soon.

    Lady Nyo

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