Friday, February 15, 2013

Vandana Shiva: Our Violent Economy is Hurting Women

Yes! Magazine
January 18, 2013.

There is a connection between the growth of unjust economic policies and the intensification of crimes against women. The Delhi gang rape has triggered a revolution—one that we must sustain

Violence against women is as old as patriarchy.

Traditional patriarchy has structured our worldviews and mindsets, our social and cultural worlds, on the basis of domination over women and the denial of their full humanity and right to equality. But it has intensified and become more pervasive in the recent past. It has taken on more brutal forms, like the murder of the Delhi gang rape victim and the recent suicide of a 17-year-old rape victim in Chandigarh.

In India, rape cases and cases of violence against women have increased over the years. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported 10,068 rape cases in 1990, which increased to 16496 in 2000. With 24,206 cases in 2011, rape cases jumped to incredible increase of 873 percent from 1971 when NCRB started to record cases of rape. And Delhi has emerged as the rape capital of India, accounting for 25 percent of cases.

The movement to stop this violence must be sustained till justice is done for every one of our daughters and sisters who has been violated.

And while we intensify our struggle for justice for women, we need to also ask why rape cases have increased 240 percent since 1990’s when the new economic policies were introduced.

Could there be a connection between the growth of violent, undemocratically imposed, unfair economic policies and the intensification and brutality of crimes against women?

I believe there is. I am not suggesting that violence against women begins with neoliberal economics. I am deeply aware of the deep gender biases in our traditional cultures and social organizations. I stand empowered today because people before me fought against the exclusions and biases against women and children: My grandfather sacrificed his life for women’s equality, and my mother was a feminist before the word existed.

Violence against women has taken on new and more vicious forms as traditional patriarchal structures have hybridized with the structures of capitalist patriarchy. We need to examine the connections between the violence of unjust, unsustainable economic systems and the growing frequency and brutality of violence against women. We need to see how the structures of traditional patriarchy merge with the emerging structures of capitalist patriarchy to intensify violence against women.

Read the rest here. 

Comment: I think we should also look closer at how racism has normalized violence against women.

There is a considerable amount of attention paid to this in post-colonial literature but I am more interested in looking at black/brown patriarchy and racism.

In other words, how black/brown men internalize racist subjugation of women.

Don't get me wrong though, I am not suggesting that racism is the primary reason for violence against women in South Africa or India, for example.  I am merely drawing the link between racism and violence against women knowing full well as Vandana Shiva points out that patriarchy is the overarching causality.

I have written here and in my academic work that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was severely compromised by the fact that it ignored how violence against women was institutionalized under apartheid.

Rape was used as a systematic weapon of subjugation by the apartheid regime, for example.  But women were also victimized and brutalized inside of the structures of the various liberation movements.

Sadly though we have not spent too much time thinking through the implications of this violence and its link to the present.

And we are not free.


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