When a senior editor of Deccan Chronicle reached out to me to express my thoughts on the recent spurt of violence against women, it got me thinking. What if that girl had been my own sister? How would I then react? I locked myself in my room and started to jot down my thoughts.
I had a stiff deadline to meet as well. I had to send this 600 word article within an hour to make the deadline for printing. In a way it was a blessing in disguise as it really helped me focus.
Here is the photo of the article that appeared in today’s (Thursday, 20th December 2012) edition of Deccan Chronicle. Below the photo is the text of the article.
A WORLD BEYOND MEN-WOMEN DICHOTOMY
The entire nation is enraged with the news of the gang-rape of the 23 year old medical student in Delhi. For days in a row, it has been the focus of every major TV channel and newspaper. Facebook timeline and Twitter streams are seening outpouring of anger against the rapists with fervent calls for them to be severely punished. Now that most of the accused have been caught, I’m sure they will be dealt with.
However, my fear is that we as a society and the law making authorities are known for our knee-jerk reactions. The incident happened in a tinted bus? OK. Lets ban tinted glasses. Rumors were spread via SMS. OK, let’s ban SMS services!! Was there an objectionable Facebook update? Quick, arrest her! Some of these are understandable because the authorities may be under pressure to show action. But in this case, I really hope there are long term and stricter measures taken other than just imprisoning the culprits.
In my opinion, stringent laws with severe repercussions are the least that should happen. It should give the shudders to the men who even think of committing such an act. I would like to draw a parallel to incidents of ragging that went uncontrolled a couple of decades ago. It was nasty. Some of the acts that the junior students were subjected to do were unprintable. The more the victims kept quiet, the more atrocious the acts became. It took a series of suicides to wake up the nation and for stricter laws to be imposed. Fear of expulsion, imprisonment and a life of doom drove fear into the hearts of possible perpetrators. This cleaned up the system majorly.
I really hope tougher acts are enacted against violence against women. For every woman who gets raped, there are thousands that go unreported. Women wail in solitude fearing repercussions from the society. To change this, we should remove the fear and the stigma of walking to the police station and lodging a complaint. Keeping quiet will only encourage the culprits to continue with their dastardly acts.
Maybe now is a good time for us to dig deeper and look into our entire childhood upbringing. I have seen a stark difference in attitude of boys who study in a co-educational school versus a boys-only school. As a student, I have had the chance to study in both types of schools. While at co-educational schools, both boys and girls get to interact at a very young age and they learn to move with one other. Boys who study in boys-only school go through a bit of culture shock when they enter college. Not only are they less confident but tend to always see girls with coitus thoughts. I feel strongly that more co-educational institutions and early education to treat each other as equals and with respect may be one of the possible answers.
As a father of two daughters, I really want them to grow in a society that respects women and gives them a place to be their own. I would like to paraphrase my friend Vijay Anand who elucidates clearly, “I am ashamed that even in this century we draw such dividing lines, between a man and a woman – and somehow a man has to acknowledge that women are equals. Women are equal whether men admit it or not.” I would go one step further in hoping that there comes a time soon when we stop looking at us as men and women and start respecting each other as human beings.