Youth need to fight back

Youth need to fight back

India has been in the news over the increasing number of sexual violence against women in the recent years. The hot off the fire cases of molestation in Bengaluru on New Year’s eve, the Tumakuru cop raping a mentally challenged woman in a police jeep two days ago and the arrest of the most appalling serial paedophile from New Delhi have sent shock waves across the country, recalling haunting memories of previous gruesome related incidents.

They include the barbaric 2012 Delhi gang rape; a 28-year old mentally ill Nepalese woman being sexually attacked (February 2015) at Rohtak (Haryana) and her body mutilated and thrown in an open field; the reported rape of a 70-year elderly nun by dacoits at a convent in Nadia district of West Bengal (March 2015) and the sexual abuse of a 35-year-old engineering graduate by two security guards at Cubbon Park in Bengaluru (November 2015) besides many more cases which are inhumed on account of social stigma.

All these episodes make us ponder and raise alarming questions like, how are we rearing our male kids? What social and human values are being taught at home and in schools? Why do people lack sensitivity and turn into mute spectators? How shall we make our laws and system more capable?

These debates are more significant than the discussion on the length of fabric or the western values, and to find why women have become so vulnerable to social injustices and how effectively can we fight against these barbaric attacks.

The Indian tradition has accorded pre-eminence to woman and this is indubitable from the fact that she was eminently accomplished and venerated during the Rig Vedic period. As the years elapsed, women had to encounter the worst physical atrocities in the form of Sati, early marriage, widow humiliation and female infanticide specially during the medieval period.

The social order started transfiguring towards amelioration in the beginning of 19th century with the launching of reform movements by many leaders like Rajaram Mohan Roy, a pioneer in the cause of women; Swami Vivekananda, Dayananda Saraswati, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and others. With the emergence of Mahatma Gandhi into our national struggle, a drift was palpable in women’s emancipation as it was he who espoused the cause of Indian women.

In his work “Woman and Social Injustice”, Mahatma Gandhi says “to call a woman weaker sex is a libel; it is men’s injustice to women. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is man’s superior”. Gandhi initiated the reform first in his own house by metamorphosing his predilection towards his wife and then extended this perception to the women at large that included all classes — be it literate or illiterate, rural or urban, rich or poor.

Treating a woman as a fellow human being must begin from the smallest unit of the society — the family. If all the kinsmen respect women by not treating her as an unmitigated domestic help and misemploy her as a tool for man’s loathsome desires, revolutionary changes can be brought into the society. Permutation of ethos towards women must begin from a grass root level which dismally is not happening in our so-called neoteric liberal society.

The country has seen a lot of brutal attacks on women in the form of sexual assault, molestation, domestic violence etc. Even the little girl children are not an exception from the ghastly acts of a few debased men.

Bengaluru has become prominent in witnessing a number of rape cases specially of school kids causing great panic and anxiety among the parents of female wards. This has raised profound questions and concerns about the safety of girls and also the government’s inefficiency to take strong  measures against the culprits.

Despite having top women leaders in all walks of life and a number of women’s organisations working for their cause, the timid and docile women have become victim of man’s brutality. There are endless debates by political leaders and resource persons aired on TV channels when such incidents occur, but at the end of the day, nothing tangible is brought into effect.

Those pinning the blame on western wear must be cognizant that no matter how exiguous it may be, it does not give authority to men to touch let alone molest a woman. Neither the government nor the lawmakers are able to find an amicable solution to this emergency problem and the blame game continues.

Lenient judiciary
One needs to give a formidable thought as to what could be the reason behind such devilish acts that are shaking the core fabric of our society. Is it a case of animal instinct or of uncontrolled libido? Is it a case of deriving sadistic pleasure or a case of male chauvinism? Is it lack of education or bad parenting? What is the solution to this problem?

The judiciary should stop being lenient towards the offenders by treating them with kid gloves. They should instead be handed down exemplary punishment. Secondly, imparting moral values particularly to the male children at formative stages may also be effective in reducing such horrific incidents.

India’s splendid cultural legacies is deep-rooted in dharmic principles. Hence, we can go back to our roots by venerating women and build a healthy society free of crimes against them. A crusade against rapes must be persistent and a continuous process so that the insensitive government realises the need of the hour. This is possible only with the undaunted support of the youth.

Let the youth of India fight against this remorseless crime with a tireless and ceaseless effort to change the country and create a better India to live in where time, dress and place do not determine the safety of women.

(The writer is with Department of History, St Claret Pre-University College, Bengaluru)

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