Sad that it is, but reality bites and bites hard. There is at least one news report of rape each day and each being more heinous than the other. While it is quite unfortunate, but even more unfortunate is the fact the varied comments and opinions that follows from all strata of society. The supremo of the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, which was scene to the recent horror, retorts that ‘boys will be boys‘. His young-well educated-Chief Minister-assures a woman from media by asking back – “you’re safe here, arent you?”. A common-man from lower strata of the society after the Delhi rape aftermath, blames the higher class women for the kind of clothes they wear and their socializing, which gets them into trouble. People belonging to higher strata of society blame the ‘village boys’ and ‘village girls’ for not knowing how to behave in a society and that being illiterate gets them into trouble. And in between, the middle class reads the daily newspaper expresses its sadness for the woman in news, blames the administration, blames the police, blames everyone and then folds the paper back and forgets the story until one more breaks.
Pessimistic I may sound, but atrocities against women is here to stay in this Country. I am quite certain that if total published news about rape, molestation, eve teasing, bride torture are taken into account, it will not be even 10% of the actual occurrences of crime against women.
Most of the women, who are part of my family and friends circle, ranging from high class to middle class to rising class, have spoken of abuse in one form of another – from mild to sometimes disturbing. They form part of the remaining 90%, who chose silence over action. Well, while there may be a lot of reasons for that silence, but if broadly put, these may be clubbed as under:
i) Societal stigma of openly reporting abuse
ii) Fear of backlash from the perpetrator of crime
iii) Acceptance as part of woman’s life
Shocking it may seem, the first reason is prevalent not only outside the family but in many cases, inside the family as well. Instead of showing support, the first question that is likely to be put is ‘what were you doing with that boy?‘ ‘What Will People Say‘ is perhaps the biggest hindrance to effective reporting by women of the crime that takes place. Sadly, my understanding of our society/families of today is that it is more concerned more about their acceptance in the society rather than the individual interest of the family member. An abuse may ruin a life in family but still that abuse should not come out as it will tarnish the “family’s image and name”.
Second and third reasons are inter-linked to a large extent. Perhaps the most common reason for not reporting is the backlash by the man in question. While in most cases, women are blamed for falling in the trap in the first place, but the Man who puts the trap is seldom questioned. This is where Mulayam’s idiotic “boys will be boys” comes in. Trust me, this attitude is not restricted to that one man alone. It is not uncommon to find father’s going ga-ga over their son’s machoism and being proud of their son for having little mischief. While woman may indeed fall for a guy but there has to be a trap to fall on, which in most cases is laid down by men. This unfair treatment given to men by asking them to be carefree and expecting women to stay away from ‘trouble’ and imbibing this culture by families and society is what makes the most modern of women go many steps back and accept this as part of life.
This acceptance as part of life is as retrograde as sati system of 1700s and 1800s and child marriages of early 1900s. It is interesting to note that the sati system as well as child marriages were also looked down upon as integral part of our supposedly ‘rich’ culture until logic gave way to superstition. But these evil abuse ‘systems’ are distinct from ‘unorganized’ system of abuse of today since the entire society does not have to take part and observe but can be done by one freak from the society. Since society has given birth to so many freaks now, its hard to pass through the jungle and not be bitten by snakes.
So why not hold men responsible? Well, this brings me to few unsettling questions about our society and our family.
While we as society and family are upfront in blaming almost everyone – from administration to politics, when it comes to abuse, but have we ever introspected and checked if we have contributed to it. There is a billion plus population and hence blame can be easily be divided into billion and thus dilute it to an insignificant amount. How many of the families would have actually sat down with their son and gave them sex education? How many schools and teachers would have actually taken the pain of explaining the concept apart from a chapter in biology class and quickly turning to question and answers part in the last page? I am not expecting even a thousand hands here.
Sex is a part of life and everyone is bound to know about it at some point of time. Even animals are aware of it. But what really sets humans apart from animals is the ability to think. If the boy is not educated properly at right point of time and made aware about the process, then there is a very good possibility of boy growing up amongst massive sources of information, which in most cases leads to inaccurate and misleading knowledge about sex. This, coupled with bad company, is perhaps the most important reason for growing number of boys with incorrect information about themselves as well as women, which really starts the problem.
Teaching about our own rich culture and tradition is fine. Ya, makes me proud and all of our ancestry. But families do have to take the blame for perpetrating abuse of women by not teaching their sons about the basic facts of life. What amazes me is the fact that parents of today are so strict that they take decisions on what kind of food that they should eat, what dress they should wear and what TV serials they should watch. However, when it comes to telling them about birds and bees, they go silent and expect their young adolescent child to learn everything by himself.
Its ironical how saying the word ‘sex’ is looked on with disgust and with raging eyes, while it remains the fact of life. How hypocrite can it get? I am certain that unless there is a meaningful dialog between father and son, the son with all information around him will be lost in the amazon jungle and if he comes in touch with the animals in the jungle, it is certain that population of animals will grow and that of humans will decline.
Long story short, its the boys and their upbringing. Think over it and take the blame, Dads and Moms!!!