With the recent upsurge of events, post the heinous gang rape of a 23 yr old in the national capital, we have been led back to the old question – when will women get the due respect and will they be, ever, able to live a life of dignity & safety in our society? Every now and then, incidents related to crime/violence inflicted on women are reported. Be it female foeticide, molestation, domestic violence, witch hunting or the like, the list is long. Civilian response to this latest incident has been immense (both online as well as offline). It was like a simmering volcano which erupted.
However, the question still looms above us.
Kiran Bedi, in an interview, had recently pointed out that “girls have to take extra care as they are biologically vulnerable”. Being a woman, I realize that since our childhood, we have been raised and conditioned with the same idea of being vulnerable – be it in a dark alley, a group of men/boys in a desolate lane, at late night parties, wearing “inappropriate dresses” (decided by the so-called members (men) of society), travelling in crowded public transport facing the occasional “brushing”, pep talk by our mothers about all the wicked things a man can do to a woman, etc. All this conditioning over the years, both at our homes and in our schools/colleges, made even me, think in a way I am expected too. Today, I feel ashamed that, in a few occasions I too have gone with the crowd’s decision of blaming the girl in such an event. This is because somewhere I have accepted that not following the norms laid down by society for a woman will make me and only me responsible for anything that might happen to me for disobeying them. I have been made to believe that – an occasional brush by a man in a crowded bus, obscene gestures and remarks by a man in a deserted place, turning away or bowing down my head on seeing a man peeing in a public place (when he should have been ashamed), eve teasing – all are part of the ordeal of being a woman. On the flip side of the coin, we also have to give a thought to the fact that it is not easy for a parent to forego their daughter’s honour and life for phrases like Freedom, Equal rights for woman? So most of them go with what the so called society has dictated. (http://creativwins.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/that-a-female-life-comes-with-a-side-effect/)
But in the entire process of conditioning and moulding, no one warns the men-folk. I have never come across people teaching their sons that as they grow up they should learn to respect and acknowledge the dignity of women. That no matter what a woman wears – be it a a saree, a pair of shorts or for that matter nothing at all- they do not have the right to RAPE / MOLEST her. No one can. But, on the contrary, they too are taught that it’s the woman who needs to be ‘careful’.
And all this has led to one thing – the men thinking themselves to be some kind of a superior being, with respect to their counterpart. Men have, in this process, started to resort to rape and physical violence, etc. to vent out their frustration, anger, etc. They wear bands or ‘rakhis’ from their sisters and worship scores of female goddesses, but seldom think twice before committing a crime towards women. Having said that, I also have to acknowledge the exceptions, having met good men in my life.
So, then, what is the solution? No amount of special courts, capital punishments, etc is going to bring any radical change. Its high time that we realize and acknowledge the very fact that, its our mindset, our upbringing, our thoughts, our perceptions that needs to change. It’s the collective responsibility of the society. Where to start from, is the next big question? Small efforts at home/school/society at large, like reprimanding the boy who pulled the skirt and not the girl for wearing a skirt or raising our voice against if witnessing any injustice meted out to a woman, will actually bring in gradual change. I am of the opinion that we should be taught about gender equality and that none of them is superior to the other but are complementary to each other for successful functioning of the society. If every individual makes genuine efforts to imbibe a genuine feeling of mutual respect for the opposite gender, without any discrimination, maybe things will move towards better. At the same time we need to inculcate within us a sense of confidence so that we can stand up and fight for something right. It is always easy to say or preach things standing on the side of the road, but when on the actual scene it’s how we act and behave will decide the future of our society. While writing this post, a news channel was telecasting an interview of the friend of the 23 yr old girl. The revelations he had made sent a chill down my spine. Nobody – police, passersby – came to help them when they were lying on the road – naked and bruised. He had said that no one came forward to help them as they were dumped on the roadside semi-clad and bloodied.”We were lying in the cold night for 20 minutes. We had no clothes. Many cars and auto-rickshaws came and passed by us but no one stopped to offer us help. Even though I was crying for help,” he said.
I now realize that many of the people who passed them and did not offer help that day, must have been some of the ones shouting slogans, lighting candles, demanding for laws, etc. When the people got a chance to do something, they did not act.
So, its time when people took a re-look at their values and mindset and thoughts and decide for themselves, what is that they actually want to change. As I have said earlier, it’s the collective responsibility of the society. Its equality of both the genders we should talk and accept.
That’s what I wish and hope for……..
“Woman … is the divine object, violated, endlessly sacrificed yet always reborn, whose only joy, achieved through a subtle interplay of images, lies in contemplation of herself.”
~ Pauline Reage