They say the pen is mightier than the sword. The most recent and horrific gang rape case from the capital has generated much talk of using the metamorphic sword to castrate the guilty. Apart from the usual hue and cry in the public and the media – this time there is uproar in Parliament as well, manifesting strong demand from all quarters for more stringent rules and laws, and severe punishment for the offenders to serve as a deterrent to others.
While I am totally in sync with the overwhelming sentiment that the strictest capital punishment is needed –we are, indeed, a country where the danda rules, – I believe it’s time for a sea change in our collective mindsets. Echoing the outrage in drawing rooms, street corners, the media, and especially the social media, I have picked up my weapon of choice – words. This note is a small mark of my protest against such horrific crimes against women.
What is the reason for such behaviour? Are Indian men more violent than their counterparts in the rest of the world? Do they have less control over their raging hormones? The problem is fundamentally cultural. For centuries, Indians, across social strata, believe that women are to be subjugated, controlled, and kept in place… Even the modern Indian family believes getting a daughter married is an onerous task, almost a burden. The daughter you love and nurture, play with and teach, and make into an independent fine young woman, you then humiliate by showing an unseemly desperation to get rid of! Let’s not even touch on the ‘D’ or dowry word here, however chastely cloaked in sentiments and affection. While the son, he’s an uncrowned royal. One bedroom at home? Without question, it’s for the boy. The daughter can sleep with her grandmother. ‘It’s good for girls to learn to adjust.’ The girls place of work must be nearby, and the timings ‘convenient.’ From birth, or actually, from the womb itself, the Indian male is given a false sense of machismo. He is god’s gift…he can assert his way and get almost anything he wants. While this thinking sees most men thoughtless and insensitive, it’s an easy step for the warped, the psychopaths and the mentally sick to cross the line from mental or social abuse to physical …to rape, simply to assert their apparent power and might. Ironically rape takes away the basic essence of sex – the pleasure.
The problem stems from a basic lack of respect for women. Our movies largely glorify women as eye candy. Ads use scantily clad women to sell everything from shaving razors to bikes. Men grow up with the misguided notion that women who are modern are apparently easy. If a lady works hard in office – she is considered to be neglecting her family. If a girl is outgoing, well, she’s easy. If she is divorced, she’s not amenable. If she laughs heartily, she’s attracting attention…. Even so called progressive people offer regressive solutions: women should be careful, should not be ‘provocative’, should not go out alone…
True, India does have its ‘poster girls’: the brave Rani of Jhansi, the saintly Mother Teresa, the powerful Indira Gandhi…the sport star Saina Nehwal : but they’re all respected for the power and position they hold. What about our ordinary, regular girls? When was the last time a regular pretty dainty lady was given a position of importance?
Why can’t my sister wear a low-back blouse to her friend’s wedding? Why can’t my girlfriend wear a short dress to a night club? Why can’t my mother, an independent working woman, go out with her friends after work? Why is my maid’s daughter not permitted to study further because the boys in the community feel threatened by educated girls?
Are we really free? We pretend to preach ideals and culture to the world, when we are possibly more regressive a society as any. Even the apparent resolutions to this problem are moving towards women going under the veil and lecherous men getting castrated. But is that the society we want to live in? Three of my friends recently had baby girls, would we want them to grow up in such a world? Surely we are more civilized; surely there can be more reason to this madness.
Women make the world a more beautiful place. There isn't anything wrong in a guy checking out a pretty girl, working up the courage to invite her for a coffee or a drink ... That’s the way of nature. Even Adam had to work hard to get the attention of Eve, the only woman on the planet at that time!! What’s wrong is that some men do not know what ‘no’ means. They feel no woman has the right to refuse them.
Some men are pathetic; some men are weak; some men are desperate; some men are freaks! I India’s rape record is a national shame - more so for our men. Today, with this horror fresh in our hearts and minds, let us guys make a silent resolution: to value every woman as a person, as his better half, and respect her for her existence, and what she brings to our world. . India needs a change of attitude – we need a social renaissance. Maybe the girl fighting for her life will evoke a spark in our hearts that will become a light in our society. For now, I’d just like to say, I'm sorry.
Author: Arnav Sawhny
Follow Arnav Sawhny on Twitter: @awesomearnav