BEYOND SPACES: DEBUNKING PUBLIC/PRIVATE DIVIDE IN UNDERSTANDING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN INDIA
Purpose: One of the hallmarks of the second wave feminism was to recognise and popularise the public men/private women dichotomy that had never been explored by the preceding feminist schools for the fear of ‘politicising the private sphere’. The sanctity of the private sphere and its immunity from the outside world has been religiously maintained, which in turn manifested the private as the sphere of safety and non-encroachment. Violence within the private sphere hardly makes its way out of the four walls of the house for multiple reasons thus again confirming and upholding the notion that private sphere is relatively more tenable in comparison to the public domain while crimes committed in the public sphere are widely reported. But in this paper, the author tries to debunk the idea of gendering space (with relevant National Crime Record Bureau, India data) created to make women feel more secured in the private than in the public sphere.
Methodology: With the help of the NCRB data the author first establishes a relationship between space and incidence of violence and put forward the argument that in actual reality victimization doesn’t have a spatial characteristic, though forms may differ.
Results: The paper argues that the idea of space is a patriarchal product which not only jeopardizes the mobility of women between spaces but aggravates their vulnerability in general.
Recommendations: De-gendering spaces- doing away with labelling of spaces- is therefore crucial to minimize victimisation of women in different spheres. Increasing visibility of the women in spaces can go a long to sensitize people by reducing the association of the private sphere with women and thus help in breaking the public/private dichotomy to a great extent. The myth of protective cocoon that domestic sphere is often associated has long been busted and as far as the assault in the public sphere is concerned it can be contained by the process of de-gendering. Violence, like ‘risk’ has the capability of transcending boundaries, therefore doing away with the concept of strict boundary can be regarded as a probable solution to contain violence in both the spheres.
Keywords: Public/private dichotomy, gendering spaces, NCRB reports, patriarchy