Well, that’s what most of the girls get to hear when they are in Delhi. But to be honest, it’s not only Delhi; you’ll hear it in almost all cities. It’s been a while that I have been expressing my views on twitter but then they are completely my views. I have been reading a lot about this horrendous act for past couple of weeks.
The recent protests against the brutal gangrape of a young 23 year-old girl in Delhi have been unprecedented. Finally, it appears that the impunity with which crimes against women in our country are committed is causing outrage, and both men and women are demanding justice. What is encouraging is that although the protests were triggered by the recent incident of rape in Delhi, it has also forced us to reflect on the larger issue of impunity for rape and other crimes against women, particularly when it happens against women belonging to the marginalized communities. Moreover, it is also politicizing an entire generation of young people that are realizing that their voice can create ripples in the political establishment in Delhi. It is true that protests and placards do not educate the rapists and I also feel that the students came out on the streets only because it is New Delhi. But we should not miss an important aspect of it all – most protesters clearly defying governmental bans are demonstrating an important tactic in the struggle for women’s rights anywhere in the world. This is a strategy that should not be discouraged, rather used everywhere – be it in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Manipur or Bengal for that matter.
Given the brutal nature of the incident and several other less highlighted but similar incidents occurring all over the country, it is good that we have our attention focused on this topic. But are stringent laws and capital punishment the way to go in making the situation better? All the attention currently is on what punishment should be meted out to the perpetrators of the crime. Should we not reflect on the possible causes? Could our social mores and our thinking on how we bring up our children contribute to this state of affairs?
We need to sensitize not sanitize. If we could sensitize our society, sanitization will happen automatically.
Look at how we deal with the “boys/ girls” situation starting right in schools. I still remember, when I was in school we used to have two rows for boys, two for girls, despite of it being a coed school. Girls to one side of class and boys on the other — this could start even when the children are at an age way before adolescence. Watch children walking to school/ coming back from school, the girls bunched together and the boys separately, especially adolescents. So there is hardly any opportunity to have casual social contact between the sexes. In this situation, how do the sexes get to know about each other? Well we have our unique answer to this problem — movies, of course! So, they learn that a girl boy relationship always starts with “eve-teasing”— the path to true love! Another reason is the how we deal with a boy’s failure. Whenever in an Indian family a boy fails to do a certain work, he’s being compared to a girl who was successful in doing it. A statement like “Arre woh toh ladki thi, phir bhi usne kar liya, tu toh ladka hai, tu kyun nahin kar sakta?” (She’s a girl and yet she did it, you’re a boy why can’t you do it?) such statements are not only derogatory in its nature but also affects a child’s mind as he starts developing an inferiority complex and it’s from here that the dominance of the male, the female as an object of desire and just steps after this first lesson.
To be honest, first thing that we as a society need to do is to change our mindsets. It is necessary to fight for women’s rights, but why should the drive stop at the borders? We need to replace a “safe Delhi” narrative with an equally jingoistic, “safe India.” The fact is protesting against social injustice anywhere should be encouraged, not spurned. No matter the intensity, no matter the limited purpose, no matter the viability. Violences on women are rising everywhere, in every corner of India. But that is only because more cases are being reported today than it used to be the case earlier.
We as a nation have put morality and sex on the opposite in the balance. It’s the pleasure Vs abeyance fight in which morality has always been told to have an upper hand. In order to bring a change, we all have a critical role to play in this reform. With full respect to girls, they might consider themselves to be by-standers at the moment. But they need to remember that they are no less than we men and do not stand for inequality in any form, be it at home, in the workplace, or anywhere else.
We need to educate our present and upcoming generations and make them realize the importance of respecting women as their peers and equals. But most importantly, women have to love and respect themselves, because if they don’t, no one else will either.
PS: We are not sex starved nation but a thought starved nation.