Circle of everyday violence

Most women in India live a terribly hard life. Discriminated against from birth, two out of three women are victims of domestic violence. Every fifth women in this country is a victim of rape, attempted rape or abuse of one kind or another. Even though by Indian law men and women are equal, real life paints a different picture. Discrimination and abuse of women is constantly growing into a bigger problem. Whilst most western women are seen as equal to men, many Indian women get oppressed through beatings and other acts of violence. Many abused women are Dalit women, belonging to the lowest cast in India. They are not only victims of violence from their own social class, but also from members of higher casts. 

I spent more than one year in India. I met many women, both strong and interesting Women. Amongst them only a few could resist the

violence they were faced with. In the beginning, during my first trip to India, it was very difficult for me as a western woman to find access into the world of the Indian women. Where are they, all the Indian women? One rarely meets them on the streets and if so, mostly in the company of men.

But slowly I got to know the inside story of their daily lives. By living amongst Indian women I could get a deeper look inside their world. A world of constantly being busy, from dawn till late after dusk. Their daily chores- exhausting. Over and over again, I was surprised by these fragile looking yet strong, small bodies. I admired their optimism, happy to see the dignity these women kept, and happy to hear their moments of laughter.

But I was also surprised to see the circle of violence and affliction perpetuated through so many generations. Even though parents had themselves experienced the distress of childhood marriage, they subjected their children to the same practice. And even though they themselves had often been badly treated by their in-laws, most mother in-laws’ welcomed the younger women only as good labour but unwelcome eaters. Fathers’ and grandfathers’ serve as the examples for men. Most men show as little respect for their own wives as their fathers do for their mothers.

Again and again, the question ‚why?‘ surfaces in my mind. In searching for answers, I began to take portraits of the women I met and capture their stories in pictures.