Thursday January 3, 2013
Stop violence against women
MUSINGS By MARINA MAHATHIR
Rape and violence against women in general has nothing to do with sex or lust, but about power.
THE year 2012 ended on a mixed note. On the bright side, despite people believing in the Mayans’ alleged predictions, the world did not end. On the other hand, the end of the year saw a most gruesome crime being committed that ended with the death of a young woman.
Regardless that it happened in India, the case of the young medical student gang-raped and beaten so viciously resonated with many of us here, especially with women.
Facebook and Twitter were filled with many articles and comments about it. There were those who recoiled at the horror of it; there were also those who savoured the juicy details.
Debates ensued as to why it happened. Many believe that this was the work of perverts.
In many ways they are right. But perverts work in certain circumstances.
For one thing they don’t work where they are unlikely to be successful.
A late-night bus where it would be easy to intimidate the victim is just one. Another is if the potential victim is a young woman who is physically less able to fight back.
To say that such rapists are primarily motivated by lust is to introduce feelings that are not there or to equate lust always with violence.
This was a gang-rape. How does each individual perpetrator have exactly the same “feelings” towards the victim?
Doesn’t the fact that they are in a group embolden them more, makes them feel more powerful?
Isn’t this yet another bit of proof that rape and violence against women in general has nothing to do with sex or lust but about power? Separate each individual of the gang and see if they are as brave.
Neither is it a crime that’s only found in other “less developed” countries.
Let’s not forget that we have had similar cases, with names like Noor Shuzaily, Canny Ong and Nurin Jazlin.
These were no less horrible cases and in the case of little Nurin, still unsolved.
Who knows how many more of these there are? Yet, do we do much soul-searching, let alone go out and hold protests and candlelight vigils as they have done in India?
In India, things might finally change for women there. In Malaysia, nothing much has.
We look in horrified derision at the United States with its absurd gun laws and where there is no will to do anything about a society where kids can have access to guns and easily kill so many others, as just happened in Newtown.
We blame the movies for some of it. Yet, we don’t apply the same insight to our own media.
No, we don’t promote guns in our movies but we do promote a certain way of treating women, one where it is deemed all right for women to be raped and then “redeem” herself by marrying her rapist.
Once again the onus, burden and shame is on the woman victim and not the perpetrator.
We also have movies where rape is seen as justified punishment for women who gossip, where the perpetrator of the crime is let off.
So we cut out scenes of kissing but think it’s okay for these sorts of messages to be kept.
These are just a few of the ways in which women are put in their “place” every day.
Today, the most popular local novels emphasise that a good woman is one who obeys her man, regardless of how unjust he may be to her.
Our preachers instill in our men that even if they earn less and take no responsibility for their families, they are superior to women.
Women do everything to keep their families together and put food on the table, and still are told that they are a degree less than men.
No wonder then on social media, rape is still blamed on women and mostly on how they dress and behave.
How that explains what happened to Noor Shuzaily who had her hair neatly covered and was on her way to work in the morning is a mystery.
Should she not have worked outside the home at all?
In 2013, I truly hope that Malaysians will finally take violence against women seriously.
There is not a single woman who has not felt intimidated and unsafe when she is out alone, in the company of strangers or having to walk on the streets.
There is not a mother who fears for her daughters every time they go out.
Don’t we all have daughters who are medical students just weeks away from getting married too, just like the girl in New Delhi?
It all starts at the top. My vote will go to whichever government that will treat women with respect and stop violence against women.
Happy New Year!