Out of tune

Old and entrenched attitudes die hard, however educated people are and whatever responsibility their official and social positions give them.

This is amply proved by the sexist remarks made by the Andhra Pradesh director-general of police, V Dinesh Reddy, and the support he received from some others elsewhere. The top policeman stated in public that the skimpy clothes women wear invite rape and other sexual crimes and the police find it difficult to control them in a world of fashionable dressing. He is appalled that even women in villages wear salwar kameez, which does not pass muster as safe dress for him. The remark was echoed in Karnataka where the minister for women and child welfare expressed similar sentiments. Both have tried to wriggle out of their statements, making the usual claim that their words were misinterpreted, but the denials have been unconvincing. Unfortunately even some women’s groups seemed to share the view that immodest dressing provokes sexual crimes.

What lies at the root of such offensive and insensitive views is the old patriarchal machismo that has sought to subjugate women by deciding how they should behave and what they should wear. The way women should dress is their choice and they do not need to take the prescriptions from men in the matter. If molestations and rapes are increasing in Andhra Pradesh and other places the police have the responsibility to check them. To confess that the police is powerless in this respect is to abdicate responsibility. Instead the victim is sought to be blamed for the crimes committed on her.

The police, society and governments should ensure the safety of women, whatever be the dress that they wear. In fact the freedom that women have in deciding what to wear should be an indicator of their independence and status in society. Just as traditional dress provides no protection against sexual attacks,  what is considered fashionable dress should not be a cause for them. The problem lies with the attacker and not with the victim. Inability to realise this is not just a native failure. A Canadian police officer who said women should not dress like ‘sluts’ had provoked slut walks across the world last year. Actually women are less safe when such attitudes rule the roost.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry