Down with Patriarchy

Security means for me the freedom to go out and do what I like without fear of mental, sexual or physical harassment. This is a very great freedom and it is not enjoyed by many women in my country. A basic tool of patriarchal oppression is gender based violence and so it is rampant and my state Madhya Pradesh is high on the list of crimes against women. Often it is the people within the home that are the worst offenders. The police and the judiciary do not do enough despite strong laws for women’s protection. This is because these crucial institutions are dominated by men captivated in a patriarchal mindset. Lack of Accountability means the arbitrariness of people in power whether in the family or in the world at large and especially in positions of governance due to weak systems of penalising people for their unjust actions. Once again it is within the home that there is the maximum lack of accountability. In the world at large this just gets multiplied as people do not feel constrained to work for the benefit of society and instead work for their own benefit. Transparency means that the reasons behind all actions should be open to all for scrutiny and debate. This is the bedrock on which trust and democracy can survive. If a person feels that someone else is withholding information then there will be distrust and cooperation will suffer and so will eventually democracy. Women continually suffer from a lack of transparency. Even my husband who is a slightly better male than most other men, often withholds information from me despite having been scolded time and again for this. At the societal level this lack of transparency is gargantuan and is harming the cooperation of peoples across the world. It is a wonder that a forum such as ours is being allowed to function so well and establish transparency globally. Fairness is Justice or as John Rawls said Justice is Fairness. Essentially it means being selfless. If one is selfless then one will automatically be fair because one wont act selfishly. It is extremely difficult to be fair. I have suffered from unfairness from childhood and have had to fight some bitter struggles for justice which continue even today. Social Injustice is a subset of Unfairness which is the direct opposite of fairness as defined above. In other words Social Injustice arises from the selfish actions of the powerful sections in society. In the case of women this injustice started many millennia ago even before settled agriculture and slavery came into being as tribes fighting with each other would abduct women from their opposing tribes. Women were very soon sequestered from fighting and big game hunting because it was necessary to keep them free from hard work lest their pregnant bodies be hurt. In those early days the life expectancy was around 25 years and so it was crucial for the survival of the human race that pregnant women were kept away from dangerous activities which became the domain of the men. This biological need was converted into a social subordination of women by the men and they slowly became more powerful. We all know what it has led to at present where women are in bondage throughout the world. Being a Woman I have suffered continuously from this patriarchal injustice and it has been compounded because I am also a Dalit and have had to face social injustice. Corruption is of two kinds. One is legalised and the other is illegal. The legalised corruption is that of drawing huge remunerations for unproductive and dangerous work like speculation on the stock, bond, commodity and currency markets which has brought the whole world economy to its knees. Illegal corruption is the taking of money in addition to the legal remuneration for doing legal or illegal work. India is beset by both kinds of corruption which result in miseries for the poor and especially for the women. The biggest impact of the legal corruption of financial speculation is that their is lack of capital for the survival needs of poor women and they have to work hard to get such essential things as water and firewood. All the above are manifestations of an imbalance in power in society that has developed historically. This power imbalance has to be challenged through activist actions both at the individual level and at the societal level. It is difficult but it has to be done. The established social and state structure is both oppressive and patriarchal. As women we must at all times fight for the removal of patriarchy in addition to the general demand for justice from the poor and deprived of this world.

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