Understanding Gender Perspectives
The violence against women remains a pertinent feature in our society. Whether in India or even in western societies, which claim to be based on set of liberal and progressive values, cases of violence against women have been reported at times. The available literature has mostly relied on gender perspectives for the analysis of problem. The book Against Violence Against Women: The Case for Gender as a Protected Class by RM Fields is significant as it draws on an interdisciplinary framework of study from sociology, psychology and women’s studies classes that include domestic violence among the covered topics. It also seems to be aimed, at times, at practicing psychologists and toward policy makers, as well as the general public. Given the account of rising violence against women in India this book is an timely and important to all of its potential readers.
The book is composed of an introductory chapter, an epilogue, and six chapters addressing various regions of the world. However, with no specific reason for the selection of these areas, it presents case studies of women who have suffered from violent treatment in areas with which the author is familiar, along with brief descriptions of history, mythology, and beliefs.
The first of these regional chapters attempts to describe cases of violence against women in Africa, an impossible task given the number of cultures, languages, traditions, tribal structures, patterns of colonisation, and economic variation on that continent. Other chapters address countries of Afghanistan, India, and China; the region of Siberia within Russia; what the author terms Celtic Europe; and the Negev Bedouin tribe in Israel. In the chapter on India, author makes a significant point that violence against women is an evolved phenomenon in India, and although being in practice in earlier times, it has now become “serious social problem before Indian society” in contemporary times. The book points to the fact of inefficiency of law executing agencies and poor conviction rate as an attributing factor to this problem.
The book is interesting in a sense that helps in raising an awareness of the extent and depth of the problems of feticide, female genocide, and familial or societal sanctioned violence directed against women throughout Asia and Africa. Thus very significantly it points to the problem of violence against women in different cultural contexts on whole. In the chapter on Afghanistan, author seems less hopeful about any critical change in a societal pattern. Chapter on China points out trend of common under reporting of domestic violence due to traditional norms that suggest domestic violence is a private affair and acceptable behaviour.
The goal of the book is to investigate the potential of nongovernmental agencies and international courts to protect human rights and to explore ‘‘whether international law can successfully intervene and hold perpetrators of violence against women accountable’’, is worthwhile reading.
The underlying theme throughout the reading demands a larger and more comprehensive view of violence against women. It is necessary not only to prevent and respond to violence, but also to better understand the nature of violence against women and girls and how it relates to gendered power relations, gendered roles and expectations, and discrimination on the basis of gender in general.
By Abhishek Pratap Singh