Parivaar Ki Izzat: Women Must Confront Patriarchy, Speak Against Harassment

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Whenever I share my stories of sexual harassment, the one response that is common is “this happened to me too”. However, this is not always empathy. Often, this reaction comes in terms of a taunt which is targeted to make me feel weak. Many women tell me that they were harassed too but they didn’t ‘complain’ about it. They suffered and bore the pain and that is where the strength lies. But dear women, if strength is in enduring pain, why aren’t women powerful? Why still women are subjected to pain and harassment?

A woman I know has been bearing domestic violence for years. She also knows that her husband harasses other women and has extra-marital affairs. But the woman never raised a voice. She endures and is still enduring, all the pain just because she is a woman. Just because she cannot oppose her husband who provides her with money and social security. This is not an isolated case. Many women in our society bear pain without spilling a word about it. Women are conditioned to accept painful life and be grateful if their life has fewer plights than others.

Women must confront patriarchy

It is because of this reason that many cases of sexual harassment are never registered with the police or the concerned help desk. Women in homes and workplaces bear harassment just to preserve their izzat and their financial empowerment which they gain after a lot of hard work.

For example, 70 per cent of women did not report sexual harassment in the workplace according to a study. They feared the repercussions it will cause on their life and career. Furthermore, according to the NCRB report, housewives were the second largest group who die by suicide as a result of constant harassment. Rather than complaining, they chose to bear the pain even of death.

The problem is that women who gain rights or let me rephrase it are allowed to exercise their rights very selectively. They have worked twice as hard as men to get the right to walk out of the house, earn money or walk alone. And consequently, women fear losing the support they have gained by raising their voices against the wrong.

But dear women, raising your voice is also your right. It is high time you pursue that right too. If enduring pain was equivalent to gaining strength, women have been the most powerful section of society. But the reality is that despite enduring all the pain and injustice, women still remain at the boundaries. They still have to bed for basic rights. Then what is the gain of all the enduring? Shouldn’t we rather get up, speak against injustice and turn the table towards us?

Yes, it will be difficult to question injustice. And this is the fault of society which lacks the endurance of a woman seeking her rights. And also the safety systems of the country forces women to undergo a lot of social and personal trial to get justice. But we can’t stop. Rather than developing the strength to endure pain, use it to oppose the pain. Rather than letting pain engulf you someday, develop the strength to push away the injustice in every way possible.

It might be unfair for me to ask women to muster the courage to fight against injustice rather than asking the patriarchy to stop oppressing women. But until the war is on, we all have to keep fighting. We cannot give up because that will lead to a self-proclaimed win of the patriarchy.

Views expressed are the author’s own.

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