A society embroiled in patriarchal values is usually a hotbed of crime. Of course, this is not a pan India phenomenon because there are urban pockets where women are educated, better off, and well-treated. But there are large areas in India, particularly rural areas, where patriarchy resides and rules.
Here is why patriarchy causes crime, and this list is not given in the order of importance:
- Ego: Men born and brought up in patriarchal societies have huge egos, and if they feel insulted by a woman (never mind if they were the provocateurs), they feel terribly humiliated. They can go to any extent to avenge their pride, including murder. You see this depicted on the reality crime show Crime Patrol.
- Fake Honour: Everyone is familiar with this – about families killing their daughters and sisters and sons-in-law to protect their “honour”. These evil and heartless people feel no shame in taking the life of loved ones. There is a popular Marathi film “Sairat” which depicts this horror.
- Objectification: When the woman is seen as an object, her husband/father has a sense of ownership over her. Therefore, she has to be obedient, respectful and “efficient” in household duties. It doesn’t matter how badly she is treated, she has to keep mum. If she does not obey, she can be “punished” with beatings, and at times this can result in death. And that is why marital rape is legal in India. And in cases where she becomes the object of desire, she can be victimised if she does not reciprocate. She can be killed, gang-raped, or subjected to acid attacks.
- Wrongful Punishment: There are cases where village panchayats have punished women because their brothers/fathers did something wrong. In this case, two sisters were ordered to be raped and paraded naked because their brother eloped with a woman from a “higher” caste. Often, women are forced to marry their rapists, to save the rapist. When the rapist is a man, his freedom is considered of prime importance.
- Muslim Laws: Luckily triple talaq (for Muslims) is now illegal in India, but the practice of forcing a divorced Muslim woman to have sex with a stranger if she wants to get back to her husband is a cruel practice. Hopefully, this will become illegal in India soon, because it is nothing but legal rape.
- Lack of Freedom: If a woman goes out to work, or generally goes out of the house frequently, like a man does, in conservative circles the men will suspect her chastity. It can ruin a marriage, and worse, women have been killed for it. If a woman speaks freely, especially about a social injustice, it is not approved of. She can be beaten, raped or killed.
- Attire: We all know of the fallacy that rapist sympathisers put forward. That the woman’s clothes was the reason for her rape. Blaming women for any violence committed against them suits patriarchal mindsets.
- Witch-Hunting: Women are killed after being accused of being witches. Witch-hunting is very real in India, particularly in rural India. Women tend to be blamed for something bad that happens, as in the case of natural disasters, and women who are a little “different” are targeted. At times, there is a property angle to it.
- Dowry: Ironically, the men are “bought” by the women’s family, but it is the boy’s side who will ill-treat or kill the woman if they aren’t satisfied with the price paid for them. These men consciously behave like objects, but instead of wallowing in shame, they treat the buyer badly. Their lack of pride in themselves is evident because they like being purchased. Their greed and ego prevents them from seeing the dishonour in it. And when a bride’s family is made to pay for the cost of the wedding, it is nothing but dowry in disguise.
- Sex Selection: This leads to female foeticide and infanticide.
“Cruelty by husband or his relatives” was the most reported crime against women, accounting for 33% of all crimes in 2016, according to NCRB statistics. Followed by rape, at 11%. The rape stats are wrong of course, because rape is much more prevalent, and you can read about that here. But whether it is ill-treatment by the in-laws, or violence committed against women, at least one of the above ten issues will play a part in the committing of the crime.
Conviction rates remain low as the police share feudal mindsets. Studies show that “65% of Indian men believe that women should tolerate violence in order to keep the family together, and women sometimes deserve to be beaten.” The women themselves often share this view.
The solution is to change these feudal and patriarchal mindsets, of both men and women, and it has to start at birth. Parents should teach human values and compassion to male children.