On 25th November 1960, Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the assassination of the three Mirbal sisters who were struggling against his dictatorship. In 1981, people struggling for the rights of women started celebrating this day as the Day of Elimination of Violence against Women. On December 17, 1999, the date received its official United Nations resolution. The main aim of celebrating this day is to raise awareness about the physical, mental and other forms of violence against the feminine gender, providing every kind of security to them against this abuse, and struggling for their rights. Celebrations start for sixteen days known as “16 Day of Activism” which end on 10th of December, marking the World Day for Human Rights.
However, despite this world-wide movement, women in different parts of the globe are subjected to many kinds of violence and unfortunately most of them are unable to raise their voice against such violence. As per reports of the United Nations, 33% women in the world and 12-15% women in Europe are daily subjected to physical and mental violence, while one among every three women in the world has to face physical or mental violence at least once in her life. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820 declares sexual violence against women as a serious crime against humanity, but there are many countries in the world where people committing this crime escape from punishment in one way or the other. Myanmar is one among such countries where there has been no investigation in cases of security forces being involved in sexual violence against women belonging to ethnic minorities.
According to Hseng Nouong Linter, a worker of SWAN organisation (which was set up almost seventeen years ago to help women involved in sexual violence in Myanmar), military forces in Myanmar are involved in human rights violations on a daily basis and are involved in sexual violence against women under a planned strategy. When any woman of a family suffers from sexual violence, the entire family leaves that place and tries to settle somewhere else. In this way the Myanmar military is forcing the ethnic minorities to vacate their lands. According to the reports of SWAN (Shan Women’s Action Network), within a period of six years there have been almost 625 cases of sexual violence against women. The report further declares that there are uncountable number of women in the country who are unsafe. The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women wails every year for the physical violence against women, gender inequality and their exploitation in every part of the world. Every year the occasion is marked with the organisation of conferences in five-star hotels, publication of appendixes in daily newspapers, discussions in symposia and conferences, and passing of new resolutions. When we check the ground realities, we find that all these things have become just narrations and mere customs while the violence against women is increasing with every passing day.
Women across the world, especially in America, Europe and other developed countries, are treated as agents for selling and purchasing of commercial items. They are an important part of advertisement strategies. The scene is worse in some countries where women’s body itself is commercialised. Men have made women a plaything for themselves. Pictures of naked women are used for marketing pornographic magazines and books. Companies print their semi-naked pictures on their commercial items and advertisement banners to increase their business. Nudity is exhibited in movies and web series in the name of show business. If all this is freedom, honour, and relevance of women, then their rights need reconsideration. Let’s not forget the fact that this state of affairs continues only as long as the woman is young and her body pleases the eyes of men. Once she crosses that stage, her price decreases in the market. She now has to live the life of loneliness in her home or in some mental asylum as she becomes a burden for everyone. This is the harsh reality of modern freedom of women. It is another form of violence against women in the name of their freedom and equality.
Violence against women will continue as long as they are treated as objects. If we really want to curb the violence against women, then our duty doesn’t end at mere celebration of this day. We need to give women respect and honour as equal counterparts of men. They are part and parcel of our society and not toys for recreation. Celebrations, speeches, seminars and enacting of new government laws regarding violence against women will be least effective unless and until every individual of society makes conscientious efforts to eradicate this violence.
The writer teaches Geography at GDC, Kulgam. [email protected]