Essay Example on In response to increasing violence against Women








In response to increasing violence against women the modern civil society has witnessed a mobilization of discourse on empowerment Rather than focussing on issues impeding freedom from violence these discourses seek to capacitate grassroots actors especially women to be liable for their own welfare and development This is highly problematic as such self regulatory modes of governance allow the state to conveniently relinquish its responsibility as guarantor of rights and shift the focus from women as beneficiaries to women as change agents Sharma 2006 p62 In the context of neo liberalism Sharma provides a comprehensive analysis of Mahila Samakhya s MS hybrid form It is interesting how an organization that started with an aim to conscientize subaltern women became depoliticised bureaucratized and enmeshed in the development discourse Sharma 2006 p65 I believe that the programme s crossbred structure is rather a marriage of convenience between the state and non state actors

Not only there was a substantial breach of duty by the state to act as a provider of welfare for marginalized citizens it also allowed Indian government to reframe its image as an advocate of women's rights and a facilitator of development Furthermore MS workers used the state label to exercise authority and intimidate the women they are meant to empower as illustrated in Leela Vati s example While the representatives criticized bureaucratic interference they consciously donned the official garb to instill wariness in the people It makes me wonder whether the female employees of MS actually understand the issues of marginalized women and work towards transforming the masculinism of bureaucracy or do they become servants of it disciplined and produced by it Brown 1992 p11 Women s involvement with the state and adherence to bureaucratic procedures can be seen as strategic ways of negotiating and mobilizing subaltern women However it cannot be denied that it makes them dependent on the state which marks itinerary of women's subordination Brown 1992 p12 and undermines the agenda of gender equality and social change The construction of NGO s image as legitimate and compassionate by MS workers remains contested and partial This compels me to recount the conversation I had with an NGO in India regarding a minor girl child called Naina She is merely 13 years old and wishes to support her mother financially which is the reason why she came to my house desperately looking for a job as a domestic help On enquiring about the NGO s work and programmes all I got was information about their reach presence and impact in India for which they had no substantial evidence

After a detailed account of numbers I finally got an opportunity to address the issue My sole purpose was to seek NGO s help in improving Naina s condition by giving access to quality education Instead I was harassed to give up names of people who have employed her considering child labour law banned employment of children below 14 Moreover I was threatened politely that they might send police at my home to interrogate my parents suspecting that they are potential employers This episode falsified the claims made by the NGO in the name of empowering girls through education and considering how that NGO worker played on my fear of the authority I was forced to give up on the idea of seeking NGO s assistance in the matter Therefore I regard the claims made by MS employees regarding the grassroots level accountability of NGOs as highly questionable Of late education has become crucial to Indian government s approach towards unstately task of empowerment Sharma 2006 p69 Take for instance the Right to Education Act in India which is aimed at providing free and compulsory to underprivileged children aged between 6 and 14 from class 1 to 8 The child can seek admission in any government or private school After getting more involved in Naina s case I got to know that she is availing free education in a government school which suffers from shortage of teachers and infrastructural gaps Since children cannot be asked to leave school or be forced to repeat a class till they complete class 8 as per the Act the teachers are nonchalant towards student s performance and keep promoting them to the next level While the government is conveniently busy portraying itself as an empowering agent individuals like Naina and her mother continue to struggle to uplift themselves out of poverty In the end they are the ones to be blamed for their circumstances

This could have been avoided if the resources such as income and literacy education were evenly allocated among various groups in the society As Galtung demonstrates such cases are an example of structural violence where there is a no clear subject action object relation and one should not assume that it amounts to less suffering than personal direct violence Galtung 1969 pp171 173 It is built into the social structure and affects everyday lives of women Therefore it is imperative to look at structural violence through a gender lens to make visible the machinery of oppression and links between social injustice and state power Behind the veneer of gender equality and women's development the state bears all the familiar elements male dominance As elaborated by Brown Through its police and military the state monopolizes the institutionalized physical power of society Through its welfare function the state wields economic power over indigent women arbitrarily sets the terms of their economic survival and keeps them dangling and submissive by providing neither dependable adequate income levels nor quality public daycare Brown 1992 p28 While the neo liberal state policies focus on individual as a site of intervention they have rendered women vulnerable to gender violence However it can be argued that state power can be oppressive for men as well considering how men are required to fit in the ideal image of hegemonic masculinity and those who do not conform to this ideal are marginalized

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