Violence against women can be viewed in the historical perspective, for it is to a large extent, linked to her status in society.
In the Vedic period, Indian women enjoyed a relatively comfortable position. Gradually violence against them beggar to be practised; the doors of educational, economic, social, political and cultural opportunities were gradually closed for them.
Even their personal freedom in respect of movement, diet, dress, marriage, etc. comes to be curtailed. Every effort was made to make them meek and docile. Women also began to be enslaved and prostituted.
All this brought them to the level of chattel or cattle. They became commodities which could be sold and purchased which could be tailored to perform different functions.
Various obligations restrictions and regulations were imposed on them and different penalties and punishments were prescribed if women violated them. Thus violence against them came to have a societal sanction.
Around the begging of the Christian era, Manu laid down the Hindu code. His laws insist that women must consider her husband as a God; she should be kept dependency by her husband.
The ideal women is one who does not strive to break these bonds of controls; the salvation and happiness of a women revolve around her virtue and chastity as a daughter, a wife and a widow.
Worse still, a widow’s life began to be denied from around the sixth century A.D. when the practice of sati was introduced.
Wife-beating got religious and social sanction with the Matsya Purana authorising the husband to bet his ‘erring’ wife (though not on the head or the breast) with rope or a split bamboo.
Violence against woman further increased when the young girl’s began to be forced to serve as the Devadas is in the temple. This also made prostitution a part of religious life.
In the medieval period, when two measure cultures-Islam and Hinduism-encountered and interacted with each other, violence against women increased manifold. It included new elements.
Even the purdah system which isolated the woman from the rest of the world was after all violence against woman. Girls began to be married off at a tender age, and in certain communities he new-born baby girls began to be killed by the parents themselves.
Polygamy took strong roots in the society, and a woman’s right to the unshared love of her husband started vanishing. Rapes for vengeance and forced marriages becames common.
The Ramcharita manas, thpough in a different context mentions-DHOL GANWAR SHUDRA PASHU NARI, YE SAB TARAN KE ADHIKARI:
The drum, the uncultured the untouchables, animals and women should be beaten.
The British Government by and large remained indifferent to the violence against women. After independence violence against women has only grown in all its dimensions.
Indeed a few more forms of violence like female foeticide have developed because of the progress in science and technology.
Dowry system has been with India society for a long time. But today’s growing materialism has increased its severity which results in a great number of bride-killings every year.
Today violence against women in India has assumed an alarming proportion. According to one estimate, there are about thirty specific forms of violence being committed against women from the pre-natal stage to their death.
Such forms include foeticide, infanticide, deliberate check on the supply of sufficient or/and nutritious food, medicine neglect, deprivation of educational opportunities, child marriages, sexual abuse of the...