A UK journalist made a documentary on the Nirbhaya rape case. The journalist interviewed the perpetrators from behind prison walls to shed light on the deplorable living conditions of the rapists to explain how one could commit the heinous crime that they did.
It showed the surroundings in which they grew up, infested with violence, filth and a basic struggle for survival every single day of their lives. The documentary also spoke of the warped concept of masculinity that these numerous slums bred. All in all, after watching the reporting, one did not ask ‘how could they’ even though you hated them for what they did. A noteworthy observation was that there is a system that gives rise to monstrosity and till horror does not knock at our door or the neighbour’s doorstep, we conveniently close our eyes towards the breeding ground of such gruesomeness.
The latest Kathua rape case shook us all. The victim was no more than eight years of age and yet there were people who defended the perpetrators of this gruesome crime. We took the opportunity to ask this question on our Facebook group Indian Women Discuss and here are some interesting comments from our members.
The question was: Recently a lot of light has been shed on women’s sexual exploitation. What measures can we take as a community/individual to make a difference?
Gender neutral parenting at homes where we talk openly about sex, periods, bodies, child abuse and marital rapes. When you witness domestic violence around you, intervene, don’t choose to ignore by saying it’s their personal matter!
Define a woman not as an ‘abala nari’ or an object for sex and sale! Whether it’s the daily TV soaps or Bollywood movies, women are not represented in an appropriate manner. A strong woman need not wear skimpy outfits, party and indulge in bad habits. If a woman chooses to, one doesn’t need to label her characterless either.
Stop projecting that successful women are alcoholic and home breakers. Also, stop showing the other extreme where women are taking care of children’s health and the decision makers are men.
At a community level, we can ensure gender neutral upbringing, feminism, equality, no stereotyping and inclusive dialogues around gender issues. At a personal level, self-respect and self- defence!
Every locality should have a women’s security group like the Gulab gang! Women should be united.
To begin with, young children should be taught the difference between ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’. Parents should be taught to look for signs of sexual abuse if a child suddenly becomes withdrawn. To prevent human trafficking, women, particularly from the lower economic strata should be taught not to be enticed by lucrative job offers in far-away cities. 90% rapists are known to their victims. Women should be taught self-defense to protect themselves.
Vandana Kumari Jena
Trying to control and pass instructions for women is something that naturally happens in married households. Isn’t that disrespect in the first place? Overlooking it, people assume it’s a given right to forbid them their freedom. The second stage of such acts is the violence where women are seen as vulnerable objects. While self-defense can be a solution, the real change will come when every individual will treat their women folk as equals.
Men should genuinely respect women. A man should feel in his bones that he wouldn’t have existed if it were not for the woman who ensured his survival as an infant. That gratitude he has for a woman will have ripple effect on other women he comes across in his life time. Yes sex is a wonderful experience but it can’t be fun if it’s one-sided. He must learn to know the difference between who is willing to give it to him and the many who say NO to him. He should respect it as their decision to mate with him!
Ashok Balazi Mani
When a young man uses a crass word to describe a woman, call him out. When boys cat call, don’t enable them by saying ‘boys will be boys’ or something equally nonsensical. The offenders must be punished and made an example of, to deter others. The community must be collectively outraged so everyone knows how big a crime this is.
Even though I’m against capital punishment at a fundamental level, I strongly feel the rapists of Kathua and Unnao cases need to be given the death sentence. Let the law treat these cases as the “rarest of the rare”. The capital punishment, without a doubt, will serve as a deterrent for all potential rapists.
According to me, raising the human consciousness is the only answer. Everything else is a workaround that only tackles the symptom and not the root cause.
As parents and role models, we slam our gender beliefs onto our kids. Sexual exploitation is the politics of power. Who gives our boys that power or the belief that it’s okay to oppress girls? It’s you and me, in some form or measure. Strip away the patriarchal belief that one gender is better than the other and there would be more balance. At an individual level, attempt to destroy stereotypes we’ve been raised in, question our own patriarchal mindsets and take steps towards changing them, raise our voices when we are face-to-face with misogyny and keep the conversations going.
If we get a hint that a person at a party is at a risk of getting sexually exploited, the first thing that we must do is to talk directly to the prospect who might be in trouble. Go and ask straight questions like “Would you like me to stay with you?” Also, always remember that you too may enter the risk-zone by intervening. But remember, there is huge power in unity, so ask a couple of others (doesn’t matter even if they are strangers) to support you as you approach the person at risk.
- Better training for police to handle these cases, especially when dealing with the victims and their families 2. Make private hospitals attend to these cases as well. Presently, by default, all cases are directed to government hospitals for medical investigation and treatment of victims 3. Free up the fast track courts established for women’s cases which are now burdened with other cases too. 4. Ensure we don’t get pulled into religious wars over these crimes which take away focus from the crime itself. 5. Women to consolidate themselves as a vote bank. Women make up for 49% of the population and this is the power we have to either elect or throw a government which doesn’t make this burning, epidemic issue a priority in their manifestos. Don’t limit women safety and empowerment to free LPG, toilets and affordable housing which actually benefit the entire household and not just the woman.