Sexual abuse handed down generations
I hail from Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. The most accepted profession for a woman there is teaching because that is the only job that would allow her to look after her family and also work, so if a woman pursues MBBS still she ends up becoming a teacher.
I come from an upper middle class family. I have sisters who are Doctors and Air Hostesses but often the tendency is that they go home and are beaten up by their husbands.
In a majority of households there, child molestation is also pervasive and common, but elders choose to ignore or deny its existence. It is because, more often than not, they are themselves implicated in the act. Several sisters of mine, including myself, have been molested by our uncles or their sons. What is more disturbing is that the molesters take turns at the victim. Girls are threatened to not speak up and even if they do, they come across deaf ears.
I spoke to my parents about molestation and then they spoke to our cousins’ family but nothing really happened. And the cousins’ mother blatantly said that your daughter is not beautiful enough to get raped. The problem is that once we discuss this within the family it never tends to go out.
After this, there was a clash between families so when I spoke to my elder cousin sisters they had excuses like they have also gone through ‘this’ by my father or my elder brother but they never reacted and they don't want to.
Once I also confronted a cousin brother who I knew had victimized a sister of mine. His response: I saw my elders doing it; thus I did it as well. A culture of sexual harassment is handed down generations and every man believes it is almost his right to harass women in the family.
To bring change, I joined a NGO that addresses sexual violence towards women in Bijnor. Not only did I find that the entire setup was dysfunctional. There was barely any work but the NGO was active in looking for donations. I was told, “yaha kaam nahi hota hai.” Every 15 days or so, they would organize an event to show their support to the cause. Most non-profit organizations in the region function the same way, of providing token support.
The helpline in Uttar Pradesh does not work properly. They just ask survivors to reconcile with their families. Reconciliation is not possible unless they help them further.
In a city like Delhi there are people I can reach out to but whom should I try to reach out when I'm in Bijnor? If someone goes to police station, they won’t do anything about it.
If you ask any woman from Bijnor if she wants to work she will say yes. But how empowering is our education today? Is education really giving a structure which empowers them?