How Violent Economic 'Reforms' Contribute to Violence Against Women
The brave and courageous Delhi gang rape victim breathed her last on December 30, 2012. This article is a tribute to her and other victims of violence against women.
Violence against women is as old as patriarchy. But it has intensified and become more pervasive in the recent past. It has taken on more brutal forms, like the death of the Delhi gang rape victim and the suicide of the 17-year-old rape victim in Chandigarh.
Rape cases and cases of violence against women have increased over the years. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported 10,068 rape cases in 1990 which increased to 16,496 in 2000. With 24,206 cases in 2011, rape cases jumped to incredible increase of 873 percent from 1971 when NCRB started to record cases of rape. And New Delhi has emerged as the rape capital of India, accounting for 25 percent cases.
The movement to stop this violence must be sustained till justice is done for every one of our daughters and sisters who has been violated.
And while we intensify our struggle for justice for women, we need to also ask why rape cases have increased 240 percent since 1990s when the new economic policies were introduced. We need to examine the roots of the growing violence against women.
Could there be a connection between the growth of violent, undemocratically imposed, unjust and unfair economic policies and the growth of crimes against women?
I believe there is.
Contributions of women
Firstly, the economic model focusing myopically on "growth" begins with violence against women by discounting their contribution to the economy.
The more the government talks ad nauseam about "inclusive growth" and "financial inclusion", the more it excludes the contributions of women to the economy and society. According to patriarchal economic models, production for sustenance is counted as "non-production". The transformation of value into disvalue, labour into non-labour, knowledge into non-knowledge, is achieved by the most powerful number that rules our lives, the patriarchal construct of GDP, Gross Domestic Product, which commentators have started to call the Gross Domestic Problem.
National accounting systems which are used for calculating growth as GDP are based on the assumption that if producers consume what they produce, they do not in fact produce at all, because they fall outside the production boundary.
The production boundary is a political creation that, in its workings, excludes regenerative and renewable production cycles from the area of production. Hence, all women who produce for their families, children, community and society are treated as "non-productive" and "economically" inactive. When economies are confined to the market place, economic self-sufficiency is perceived as economic deficiency. The devaluation of women's work, and of work done in subsistence economies of the South, is the natural outcome of a production boundary constructed by capitalist patriarchy.
By restricting itself to the values of the market economy, as defined by capitalist patriarchy, the production boundary ignores economic value in the two vital economies which are necessary to ecological and human survival. They are the areas of nature's economy and sustenance economy. In nature's economy and sustenance economy, economic value is a measure of how the earth's life and human life are protected. Its currency is life giving processes, not cash or the market price.
Secondly, a model of capitalist patriarchy which excludes women's work and wealth creation in the mind deepens the violence by displacing women from their livelihoods and alienating them from the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend - their land, their forests, their water, their seeds and biodiversity. Economic reforms based on the idea of limitless growth in a limited world can only be maintained by the powerful grabbing the resources of the vulnerable. The resource grab that is essential for "growth" creates a culture of rape - the rape of the earth, of local self-reliant economies, the rape of women. The only way in which this "growth" is "inclusive" is by its inclusion of ever larger numbers in its circle of violence.