‘Indian students of Saint Joseph Degree college participate in an anti-rape protest in Hyderabad on September 13, 2013’
In the backdrop of the numerous reported cases of rapes, gang rapes and widely visible discrimination against women in India, the German author, artist and social worker Dr. Katharina Poggendorf-Kakar spoke about the India-specific form of such violent acts. Dr. Poggendorff has lived in India since 2003 and travelled extensively through India to understand the basis of such atrocities on women but where’s the answer we need?
•Why do you think Indian women become the target of so many violent atrocities?
•Do you think the ancient Indian cultural notions are also to be blamed for it?
Culture has such an impact on who we are. what would help is elimination of the cast systems and that will take generations. But that is one of the core problems of suppressions, not just of women but also men, but especially poor women. So at the moment, it doesn’t matter who you marry and which cast you belong to. There will be a huge change for Indian society and especially for women of lower casts and lower classes.”
It’s not just a gender problem. A high cast woman is more powerful than a low cast man. So it’s more complex and my interest is to show that complexity, to also differentiate all these issues. It’s not just men who suppress women; it’s also elder women who suppress women.
•How important it is for women to achieve economic self dependence? What could save them from violence and discrimination?
“Education and thus the possibility to earn (something for her life – ed) are tremendously important factors for women to live a more individualistic life according to their own kind of rules. That’s true worldwide in a way. So, it’s extremely important to involve women not only in economy but also in politics, in power structures where their decision making has an impact on the communities that involve women. So, politics and economics are the core questions of change. But within Indian culture cast is also the major player.”