News East West
TORONTO: Veteran Indo-Canadian journalist Ajit Jain, who has reported on Canada and the Indian diaspora in this country for three decades, has just come out with a hard-hitting book titled `Violence against Women – All Pervading’.
Brought out by Toronto-based Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women, the book features views of top academicians, social activists and political leaders to highlight the subservience to which women are subjected in all cultures.
Excerpts from an interview with Ajit Jain:
Q: What was the trigger for this book?
I was very, very disturbed, as were millions of people in India and elsewhere, by the shocking manner in which Jyoti Singh Pandey, 23, a medical student in Delhi, was gang-raped by six mad men and that too in a moving bus. How inhuman that after raping her repeatedly, they used the iron rod to hurt her internally and then threw her and her friend completely naked on the road. You all know what happened. She passed away.
Q: How did you go about this book because it is a cross-cultural look at violence against women?
Reports in the global media gave an impression that violence against women, gang-rapes, etc., are all happening in India. India is infested with mad people. Violence against women is widespread in India.
But when you research, you find that it is not India-specific. Violence against women is all pervading. It is a global phenomenon. When you read UN statistics, it is revealed that one billion women are subjected to all kinds of violence.
Read about South Africa: Over 25 percent men take pride in admitting they have raped one or two women in their lifetime. And they say it in such a manner as if there is nothing atrocious about their action. It is like so what if I raped a woman. For them, women are just created differently to satisfy sexual and other needs of men.
Q: As a journalist, how did you get involved in women’s issue?
A journalist can write on any issue. After Jyoti’s tragedy, I thought this was an issue worth pursuing in terms of sensitizing people at large about how widely prevalent violence against women is. There’s no professional conflict here. In fact as a journalist it is your professional conduct to analyze and comment on such an issue.
Q: Whom is this book aimed at? Public at large? Policy makers?
The book is aimed at over 6 billion people of this world; it is aimed at any man or woman who would care to know what’s going on in this world. It is not all Middle Eastern question, or issues in Chechnya, but there are issues which are more important than warring nations.
You may have read a column in the New York Times last Sunday about a four-year old having been raped by her neighbor in Kenya. Her parents have died and she has been adopted by her uncle and aunt. They have been trying for 3-4 months just to file a complaint with the police and they haven’t succeeded yet. How insensitive and corrupt law enforcement agencies have become in some countries. Where can then be any protection for female victims? How low can be go – your conscience doesn’t revolt when you rape a four-year old baby? Sad!
Q: What is the one major factor behind violence against women in all cultures?
Lust of human beings. More and more people are unemployed. More and more of us are watching Hollywood and Bollywood movies with sexual overtones, full of violence, and censor boards just close their eyes and ears and approve anything so that they don’t have to do any explaining later on.
These factors have contributed to increasing violence against women. Excessive use of alcohol is also contributing to this violence. And we don’t speak out against such violent activities. We prefer to close our eyes.
I interviewed one girl, a fashion designer from Nigeria. She said her husband is a police officer. Soon after her marriage, he started taking objection to her talking with men. “But I am a business woman and I have to talk to my customers,” she told her husband. “I don’t care what the hell do you do to earn money. You better don’t talk to men or else one day I will kill you. I am a police officer and nobody would know what happened to you,” he told his wife.
Luckily, she escaped to Canada from her country of birth and she believes that she now resides peacefully here. But it is too early to tell.