According to WHO, one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or/and sexual violence. However, Violence against women does not only entail physical or sexual violence but, takes many other forms such as psychological violence, or economical violence that is often overlooked. In this podcast, Dr. Soma and Ms. Poonam would draw the listener’s attention to multidimensional forms of violence and discrimination against women, particularly women farmers in relation to land rights.
Dr. Soma and Ms. Poonam are both associated with MAKAAM (Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch), with Dr. Soma being a founding member of MAKAAM. MAKAAM is a nationwide informal forum that works towards making women farmers in India more visible and helping them secure their rights. Their experience in the field has helped us get a deeper understanding of the situation of women in rural India and the violence they experience on a daily basis.
Ms. Soma commenced with a brief overview of the reasons leading to violence against women in rural India, especially in the times of COVID. She presented the heart-wrenching reality of female sugarcane cultivators who were kept captive and in some cases forced to undergo a hysterectomy in order to be hired as contractual labourers. The podcast progresses to a conversion around land rights and the violence that stems out from issues related to ownership of land. As Ms. Poonam rightly pointed out, we are living in a country with progressive laws but a very oppressive social system. It is not only the government laws that have not been rightly enforced to subjugate violence against women but also the social mentality that propagates patriarchy and is preventing women to live as equals in society. It is important to note that these ‘torch bearers’ of patriarchy are not only men but even women who have internalised patriarchy and believe that punitive measures must be taken to punish those who try to break the social norm.
An important component of the podcast revolves around the impact of urbanisation and privatisation on women. Invisibilising the rights of women when it comes to accessing/privatising the common land or even designing policies itself shows that we have a long road to travel before women are treated equally to men. This podcast overall provides a detailed narrative voicing the plight of women in rural India. Touching upon crucial topics like social norms, data bias, government policies, inaccessibility to space, patriarchy, farmer’s bill, etc. This podcast is thought-provoking and highlights the issues concerning violence against women that generally are not considered important enough to be discussed.