Why in News?
The recent series of alleged suicides by young women, due to dowry-related violence, and the intensity of violence each had to encounter reveal cracks in the social and economic fabric of Kerala.
Syllabus—GS1: Issues related to Women
- The state govt has announced a round-the-clock helpline for women to report dowry harassment, domestic violence & other gender crimes.
- The govt has promised to strengthen domestic resolution centres in all districts.
- But the efficacy of such measures in reducing the increasing trend of violence against women is not known.
Kerala’s Development vs. Kerala’s Great Gender Inequality:
The Glorious Story of One Side:
- Kerala’s development experience is marked by very high social & human development indicators:
- With the state listed first among others in almost all indicators.
- The female literacy rate in Kerala s among the highest i.e. 95%
- Kerala has a better sex ratio compared to most states.
- The Women’s collective “Kudumbashree”, has gained international attention & is widely accepted as a model of Women’s empowerment.
- The critical of the contribution of women as frontline soldiers to heading health minister needs to be noted.
The Untold Story of other Side:
- Even with the above positive indicators, the crimes against women are increasing in Kerala
- As per the latest NCRB data, though the dowry deaths are small in number but the cases of cruelty by husbands or relatives that could be seen as a proxy for dowry-related violence are substantial.
- Kerala’s development achievements largely revolved around social & political movements.
- It never took the gender question seriously, even when many Women are central to the struggles.
- While basic socio-economic problems of class & caste were addressed, but gender-based exploitation remained unaddressed.
- With the flow of remittances & expansion of the middle class, restrictions on females were redefined.
- Though females were allowed to pursue their education, the marriage prospects are given priority over economic independence.
- The increased demand for teachers in the marriage market & the restrictions on Women’s economic choices or withdrawal from education or employment after marriage are all indications of a gendered fabric.
- Women may not face much discrimination as children but the process of preparing them to graduate to the role of a wife begins early.
- The withdrawal over time from the economic sphere completely or partially is also the reason for increased dowry demands,
- However, even for earning women, they rarely have an equal role in decision-making & many women agreeing to male decisions as a part of their responsibility.
- The major hypocrisy in Kerala society is that one hand the people will be socially & politically conscious & may appear as progressive individuals in their public life.
- But when it comes to their personal life, none of these values are respected & practiced.
- Unless larger public action is directed at improving women’s status at an overall level through promoting women’s equality in various fields of life, any ad hoc measures could not result in change.
- It is high time to equip girls to take a stand against dowry & marriage systems as well as question women’s subordination at large.
The recent series of alleged suicides of young women due to dowry-related violence & the intensity of violence each had to encounter reveal cracks in the social & economic fabric of Kerala. Discuss.