Much is being reported in news over the Bangalore incident on New Year’s eve when women were molested by mobs of men. There is public outcry, insensitive comments by politicians, some arrests and shame (not for women but for the men in the country). I don’t want to use this post to vent my anger but want to put out some personal opinions.
Girls and Boys are not the same: You might be right on that, they are not same. Boys cannot give birth and Girls can and there are other physiological differences between boys and girls. But that does not take away the right for a girl to live her life freely without having to fear the society or boys. Boys and girls are same when it comes to walking freely on the streets, dressing as they wish, loving who they want and leading a life they choose.
Girls need to dress responsibly: First let us talk about responsibility, it means “to be
Boys are after all Boys: Really? then they are boys who have not learned very well from their mothers or probably have seen their father show his male dominancy on their mother and seeing that they have rejoiced and clapped their hands for it. They have probably even joined hands with their dad and unleashed the patriarchal sting on their mother or their sister. No ‘Boys are not after all Boys’, being a boy should not get you bail for every filth you do.
The Media is to blame: This is an argument by many people who think media is destroying the traditional value. They think Sunny Leone is the person destroying their pious men. The men who molest and grope women have always been in India and every country. Even before Media became liberal and even before social media and cell phones came up. Yesterday I was watching Govind Nihlani’s Ardh Satya as a tribute to the late Om Puri. One of the scene in the movie was of a guy groping Smitha Patil in the bus. She was dressed in a white saree. This was a movie I believe in the seventies before many of these so called media. In our society man trying to dominate his power over women has always been there and blaming the media is like trying to wash away the responsibility to say “Boys and Men need to change”
It is a shame for the Country: If you can be proud of a country for something you did not do you should surely be ashamed as well. But before you do that let me ask you one thing “Are you worried about being shamed or are you worried about the safety of people on the streets?” Because I know the hue and cry made on that documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ a while back where a group of people said that is done just to tarnish India’s image.
Girls and Women should only go out in the protection of a male from their family: Nice argument (to show your concern for their safety) but will fall flat in a society where even the men in the family itself show their dominance on women. Safety is when one can go out alone and not with guards. We also know of men who protect their women but grope other women. So the issue is not protection, it is safety my friend and a moral responsibility to make the society safe and liberal and responsible.
It is a result of western influence: This argument is mainly by people who oppose events like Valentine’s day and the partying culture as unIndian. I think it is also out of a growing economic division and consumerism that is dividing India. If we take the traditionalists opposing Valentine’s day events out of the picture, there is still the growing consumerism surrounding these events that alienate a good number of people in the society. I remember myself being an opposer of Valentine’s day back in college where we thought we were vigilantes of a moral society. And I wrote about this a while long ago “Valentine’s day – From opposing to Celebrating it”. I guess it was not just vigilantism but also a kind of frustration with the thought that people who celebrated Valentine’s day had a better time in life coupled with a total ignorance on what it can signify to two people married or unmarried and in love. A day for love is great. But yes the consumerism surrounding it can create a division especially in societies like India. Blaming the western influence completely is to put a blinder on the real issues. Social Media also has a major role to play here. The solution is not stop the events, but to impress the need gender equality in our societies.
The Impact of a Narrow Mind: The narrow mind of people who always suspiciously look when a girl and boy walk together has to be countered. Even in western societies there are atrocities against women and that is not because of Media and consumerism but the underlying character of the dominant male. So blaming the western society is not always right. In India where the society had a different form before the surge of western consumerism the challenges could be different. People even now think kissing in public is bad even if they love each other or are married (a license to kiss by the society in Indian standards). Also we have a different mentality in the society, When two lovers kiss that does not mean as a bystander you can go and join them like if they can why can’t I ?. So we need to think about what makes some Indian males so frustrated both sexually and emotionally. Unless that is addressed there is no way you can cope up with any negative effects of a culture change.
Comment “women are sugar, men are ants”: This was by the moron Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi; Well we all know what we do to ants loitering near the sugar Jars or even on kitchen tables.
Comment “It is the Hindutva brigade” : This was by the Congress Rajya Sabha MP BK Hariprasad. Blaming everything on Hindutva is politically motivated in my opinion. I do agree that the leaders of Hindutva brigade do have an influence on their followers who sometimes embark on vigilantism when they imply that the western influence and the women themselves (if they walk and act freely) are responsible for what men do to them. But it is not always the case because there is also a difference between molestation and vigilantism. And I say that without supporting Vigilantism. Here the problem in my opinion is Lawlessness and Frustration among men not vigilantism. And is it only the Hindutva brigade that is putting boundaries and restrictions on Girls and women what about the Islamist Brigade? Or being a secular congress did you conveniently decide not to bring it up. Wah re Rajneethi!!!!
Incidents like this come to light when everyone is equipped with camera phones and also the social media where reporting is more easily possible. We also saw the CCTV footage of two people on bike trouble a girl walking alone. Education, Job opportunities, a path to make a better living, drugs, lack of responsible drinking habits, the sheer need to be responsible, the need for a call for equality, having a similar moral understanding of the society and much more is needed to address this issue in the long term . We can talk about shame and blame and other things, but unless we are ready to take head on the issues that cause some men and mobs to act like this we will not find a solution. Not all men do it, why? Why only some do it, what does that signify? Why do some men don’t act this way? What do the responsible men have over the irresponsible men?
The discussion and solution should be to address the problem with those who groped and molested not the women who were victims.
We should decouple all issues and discuss separately.
- Safety which is an importance for men and women who walk alone and that also includes stray dogs, not just people who might attack.
- Our whole concept as a society towards women’s freedom and liberation.
- Our thoughts and outlook towards consumerism as a whole and surrounding events that divide across economic strata.
- Our common politics for the society against the party politics played by all parties
- Our understanding and further learning of Gender equality
And above all the worst part is when people try to put a communal twist to all this. The women who are groped and the men who grope them all fall in every religion and caste. We should never allow people to use something on a communal line if it is not so. Especially politicians.