Women versus man-L’Express

Date: January 24, 2012
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Women versus man

Recently, there has been a workshop on gender based violence by the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, in collaboration with other stakeholders. The idea was to bring to awareness that domestic violence is gender -based and it should be prevented. But being an anthropologist and outside viewer, my understanding of the situation is that it has become increasingly clear that a ‘women only’ approach to gender planning is insufficient to overturn the patriarchal structures embedded in development institutions and to redress gender imbalances at the grassroots in any fundamental ways. This has prompted moves to mainstream policy agendas from a gender perspective. The concerned authority I the Ministry fails to visualize a proper policy and it is high time to revisit the problem of gender. Gender is not an affair of ‘women only’ at all.

Several questions haunt my mind. Has there been any empirical qualitative research conducted to date by the concerned ministry so far? What are the consequences for gender identities in this deployment of the language of right? A discourse of rights is essential to engineering protection and punishment from the legal system.

Does this mobilization of rights empower women, as feminist advocates hope? A discourse of rights is essential to maintain connections with women and new cultural images of feminity that no longer require submission to male violence? Or does the reliance on the language of rights and the procedures of the law compel an individualistic interpretation of problem of wife battering because of the ‘egoism’ inherent in rights language, to borrow Marx’s phrase? Does it serve to conceal the social and economic inequalities of Gender Relations, papering over substantive inequality with political equality? These questions are food for thought.

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