As human beings, we often associate the term violence with conflict believing that in most cases conflict is the source of violence. But, can we assume that absence of conflict would mean the absence of any occurrence of violence?

The society may have formed its stratification based on multiple factors like caste, creed, community, economics, gender, power, resources, language, ethnic identity, etc., and we assume that violence always takes place due to the evolved stratification that exists in society. But we really struggle to find the link between violence and human mind and personality; which is developed through deep-rooted thoughts that come from various sources. This promotes and justifies various forms of domestic violence in families. So, by and large, it happens with its own nature but the reasons are not clear as we claim to understand. There are other possible reasons for the persistence of violence but they are often overlooked or are incomprehensible.

During the 16-day long activism on gender-based violence, our team in Bihar was committed to spreading awareness about different kinds of violence that take place in our surroundings. The campaign covered 14 villages, 10 blocks and 4 districts across the state. Through various activities, we engaged with 682 people (269 men and 413 women and girls). As a part of the initiative, we undertook various activities like community interactions, rallies, and drawing competition. At the end of every session, the participants took a pledge against gender-based violence in any form.

Despite all the activities, the key question still exists. Do such efforts help solve the problem of gender-based violence? Does it help to prevent gender-based violence? Can children stop GBV in their homes? Does a child understand the term violence and will he/she be able to prevent it in his/her life in the future? The list of such questions is long and exhaustive. To gauge the problem, we organized a meeting to understand the point of view of the community.

It was a unique account that they shared with us. In one of the community meetings, it was observed that immediately after the completion of the pledge, a male member started shouting and abusing his wife. I was intrigued and asked the reason behind it. After discussing this incident at length my team members and I concluded that the reasons are deep-rooted. There are multiple sources through which our beliefs are developed and that makes our mind function in a way.  Old myths are very much prevalent even today and unfortunately, they have been successful in establishing gender and behavioural norms for men and women. We are aware of the myths which exist in the society and further make men behave with women in a certain way to maintain the social order of the society.  

When we interacted with the women, approximately 90% of them shared that they believe alcoholism was the reason behind the gender-based violence. In the recent past, the Government of Bihar organized an awareness drive in the region to promote liquor prohibition act in the state. The message behind the drive carried out by the state government was that gender-based violence occurs only due to consumption of alcohol.  It was widely supported and accepted by children and women across all villages. But these women and girls could not understand these deep-rooted practices which come from various sources to maintain power dynamics in the society.

It may be debatable from a sociological and psychological perspective of human behaviour and attitude. The exact and accurate scientific reasons may not have established but the role of alcohol in promoting gender-based violence provides a glimpse to initiate some actions in this direction and open the floor to open a comprehensive discussion. It would help Government and Non-Governmental Organization both to build a solid ground to initiate action. The strategy, planning, the long-term goal can be developed in partnership and consultation with each other to fight this social problem in time bound manner.

The viable option is to start intervening at the school level to change the mindset of coming generations. The gender and leadership skills curriculum must be introduced at the elementary level as one of the core subjects like Math and Science. Active participation in school-based forums like ‘Meena Manch’ and ‘Bal Sansad’ can play a key role in the entire process to initiate a change.  During the 16 days of activism campaign on Gender-Based Violence, an old woman shared, “you have no idea what we women face throughout our lives and how we manage to exist.”


Posted By : GEP Team
Location : Bihar