Women have been the victims of violence all through the ages in all societies, cultures, regions and religious communities of the world.
In India which claim to have apostle of people and non violence women bear the brunt of violence domestic as well as public, physical and as well as emotional. Violence against women is linked to her status as subservient to patriarchal norms dominant in the society.
From post Vedic period violence against women began to be practiced .The doors of educational, economic, social, political and cultural opportunities were gradually closed for them. The birth of the son came to be the occasion to rejoice and that of a girl of grief. Their personal freedom in respect of movement, dress, diet, marriage came to be dominated by men. Women also began to be enslaved. They were equated with cattle or commodities that could be sold and purchased. Various obligations, restrictions and regulations were imposed on them and different penalties and punishments were prescribed if a woman violated them. Thus violence against women came to have a societal sanction.
As the time progressed several ills began to creep up in the society. The widow's right to life began to be denied and practice of sati was introduced. Wife beating got religious and social sanction. Violence against women further increased when young girls began to be forced to serve as the devdasis in the temples. This also made prostitution as part of the religious life. Girls began to be married off at the tender age and in certain communities the newborn girls began to be killed by the parents themselves. Polygamy took strong roots in the society and forced marriages began common.
The colonial India did see some legislations and education that momentarily brought a halt to violence against women but largely British displayed indifference to the status of women. After Independence violence against women has only grown in all its dimensions. The violence in form of female feticide has taken new turn with the progress of science and technology when illegal screening of fetus became available at the doorstep. Most of the violence against women is related to and grows out of their position in society. Woman is perceived as weaker sex, dependent on man therefore can be treated badly. Expected to submit to every whim of the man the least sign of resistance on a woman's part invites use of violence to make her comply. If she is uneducated, unskilled and economically dependent a woman seldom has any choice but to bear all the atrocities heaped on her.
Apart from domestic violence, women are victim of public violence more often and more humiliating like gang rape etc. Rape is not just the act of individual man against a woman but also a show of patriarchal mindset. It has become an instrument and weapon to prevent women from raising their voice against atrocities. In personal or family feuds or wars rape has always been a form of humiliating the adversary. The violence continues unabated but no social action has been forthcoming. Legislations are there and recently more teeth are added to them but people seem to have no fear of law.
Violence against women is aggregated by factors such as caste, religion, communal and class. Caste wars result in rape or molestation of women. Religious fundamentalism imposes restrictions first on women and they are the ones penalized for trying to break out of blatantly unfair and unrealistic codes of behavior.
The society need to be sensitized to the fact that women are not meant to be treated as doormat of punching bag. The law enforcing machinery must be trained and made sensitive to the issue. Women must organize themselves in groups and raise a collective voice against a system that turns a blind eye towards if not actually condones violent acts against women. United efforts can create a public opinion and outcry against humiliations against women done by men in government or uniform can work as a deterrent. Women have to be aware of their rights and stand up to them. Women must help themselves and each other in the fight against violence. Attitudinal change is required right from the home to be able for women to stand with dignity in this world.