The recent gang rape of a young girl in a moving bus has left most people shocked and disgusted. Men and women alike have taken to the streets in protest, demanding that the rapists be hanged in punishment.
I would be happiest if these criminals were quickly brought to justice. Let's assume they're hanged or castrated or jailed for life. What next? Will women be safer henceforth?
They won't... because the great Indian value system has bred a culture which fosters crime against women. Rape is NOT the real disease that plagues us. Rape is a SYMPTOM of the disease - i.e. the pervasive and deep-rooted misogyny - that plagues patriarchal societies like ours.
It isn't just the lower/uneducated strata of society within which this systemic rot exists. Look into educated and enlightened circles; you'll come across signs of the all-pervasive sexist mindset and uncover enough instances of gender bias. It is so deeply embedded in people's thinking, that most of us take it for granted and accept it as a part of daily life. Here are some common examples:
1. Boy and Girl are getting married. Girl's family pays for the entire wedding and even gifts money/valuables to Boy's family. Once married, Boy may stay on with his parents, but Girl is expected to leave her family and move in with his, and adjust unflinchingly to a whole new way of life. "Ladke wale" are seen as superior beings all through, and thereafter.
2. The Son is rarely (if ever) asked to help around the house in any way. He's excused if he doesn't help with chores because 'it isn't his job', but the Daughter is expected to do so as a matter of duty.
3. People automatically tend to assume a woman is 'loose' if they see her smoking or drinking or sitting in a pub/club or wearing 'revealing' clothes or hanging around with guys. Parents balk when the Daughter does it, people cast aspersions on the characters of women who indulge. The same people rarely protest if the Son indulges.
These are only a few of the many instances of sexism or misogyny we take for granted as commonplace in the average Indian home. I needn't even get into details about the overwhelming desire to produce male children, and the alarming extent of female foeticide/infanticide in our country. Domestic violence is a regular occurrence in many homes too, both urban and rural. If all this is is what our sons grow up witnessing, how can we expect them to turn into unbiased men who respect and regard women as equals? The average Indian child, especially the Son, is conditioned to believe that brothers, fathers and husbands hold a higher position than do sisters, mothers, and wives.
It is pointless to pin the blame solely on the legal system, for treating female victims of sex crimes unfairly. The police or judiciary may well be at fault, but who makes up these bodies? Members of the same misogynistic society do. No surprise then, that this is what the Indian police force thinks of rape and rape victims.
Times are changing and there are several men who have been brought up as decent and fair people, who stand equally disgusted by our society's misogynistic attitude. Unfortunately, this number is small. Unless the common Indian citizen undergoes a sea change in mindset, hanging these six rapists won't deter wrongly-conditioned men from committing more such crimes. Not unless our society stops teaching daughters to dress and behave modestly, but instead, starts teaching sons to be fair human beings who respect everyone regardless of gender.
Text © 2012 http://e-pinion.blogspot.in
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