Since its launch 3 weeks ago #Respect2Protect has gone viral and it has been received with more tremendous support and positivity than we could have imagined!
Along with those people who are taking up the pledge and burden of women’s right to respect, however, are those who are asking whether it is really needed. Aren’t women free to respect and protect themselves? Are we neglecting men’s rights? Aren’t we tired of all the women’s rights campaigns?
Although we think the campaign speaks for itself and that anyone watching it with an open and balanced perspective will understand its message, we also love to have a good conversation. We love the good questions – not the really nasty, pointless ones – and are happy to address them!
The article below was written by My Choices Program Manager, Dr. Farzana. Enjoy!
Patriarchy teaches society that a woman is only worth the protection she has standing guard over her. Her protectors are a myriad of prescribed things: Her dupatta (scarf) carefully draped to conceal womanly shape; The daylight she won’t step out of the house without; Her hair neatly pulled back so she doesn’t look too care free; Her eyes fixed to the ground so she does not invite attention. But to Patriarchy, her most important protector is her male guardian whether it be her father, brother, or husband. A woman or girl is nothing without the men who care for her and keep control over her wellbeing. A woman without her myriad of protectors is vulnerable, shameful, asking-for-it. To be most honest it is terrible unfortunate that woman are most abused by these relationships.
Let’s try to understand the theme of this campaign and the target behind it. As stated above, society has chosen many relationship to protect a woman, however, abuses and discriminations that we see every day is still the reality. The prime question is why these abuses and discriminations are not stopping, and the direct answer is we really do NOT respect women. If we respect her rights, equality, freedom, decision making, empowerment then she does NOT really need a protection. This is what the campaign is about. Don’t misunderstand the message and think it is about a woman needing a protection from a man. She already has many pillars mentioned above “protecting” her.
One of the concerns we have noticed from viewers is that a woman does not need a man and they are capable to do anything that she wants, and that the campaign video somehow negates women’s agency. It is not about whether she is capable or not, rather we need to understand that society is made whole when two, men and women, are together and equal. The beauty of society is determined only when they are together and parallel to each other.
On the other hand there is another approach which says if you talk about woman rights it is anti-men or woman centric. We are not advocating for taking away men’s rights & giving it to woman. It is true that woman are abused and harassed since ages. With advancement in society there have been many other and new forms of abuse and harassments. Women’s rights We are fighting a historic battle, that is finally starting to move convincingly in the right direction. Having said that, we strongly believe that there is need of additional thought process to bring a woman on the same playing field where a men have always been.
Those who think there is no need of women’s rights or there is no need of discussion on respect to protect, we ask how you ignore these data and truths which is never faced by a man. Every 20 minutes a girl/woman is raped, 40% (minimum) of married women are facing domestic violence, dowry death, gang rapes, female foeticide (943 girls per 1000 boys, 919 in 0-6 years), female infanticide, acid throwing, genital mutilation, systematic gender discrimination and violence in all senses. Does any man face sitting home or delayed marriage because of dowry or a case of dowry death, or gang rape, or being told what to wear or not to wear, or not being allowed to go outside due to unsafety, sex selective abortion? The list is endless.
Because of historic disadvantage we need affirmative action until women gain equality in every sense. Time has come where a man has to first understand he is human being, just like a womanis. He should know he is not there as protector in the patriarchal sense, but rather he needs to believe in equality and justice. He also needs to understand that he has to give up this burden of being a protector. But the question is are they ready? Till then they have to listen about these campaigns, special laws, reservations, violence data and so on…