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Indian male, heal thyself

R. Sundaram
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An outpouring of anger. — Sushil Kumar Verma
An outpouring of anger. — Sushil Kumar Verma

The 24x7 media attention on the recent rape of a young woman in a moving bus in Delhi and the outpouring of sentiment over the incident should not become or be viewed as a ritualistic exercise in mass histrionics.

Certainly, it is not so for the friends and family of the girl who is bravely battling for life in the hospital. For them, the incident is real and devastating. For those of us who view the events remotely, however, we must go further than displaying our own exalted horror. We must re-orient our own attitude to women and do something to prevent future horrors.

In recent times, this is an activity where our electronic media helps us to repeatedly surpass ourselves. With its new-found culture of 24x7, of follow-up with flashlights and candle light vigil by civil society, together we seem to show eagerness for self-aggrandising displays of grief over events that did not actually happen to us.

Channel clamour

TV channel-transmitted tragedies have become common and are occasions to stage overwrought emotional performances. In their frenzy to lend a wistful aura, channels do not mind transgressing personal sensitivities of the victims while running hour-to-hour bulletin bulletins from doctors on their condition.

But amidst all this, curiously, TV media, which claims national coverage, clamours for making Delhi safe, as if other places are better off when it comes to such crimes. Only recently, we heard of the Park Street incident in Kolkata and another in Bihar of the horrendous rape and murder of an eight-year old Dalit girl.

We, in India, claim proudly that we are an ancient culture, we worship women in the form of Durga or Shakti.

We have our vociferous forums of women at national level, we have various joint action committees across the country wanting to empower women. We are eager to install women as Panchayat leaders and wish to provide a quota for them to become Parliament members. Alas, all this is but tokenism and does not hide the ugly fact that as male Indians, we do not really respect women.

Change attitudes

When such a horrific incidents occur, we bay for the blood of the police commissioner and we want him to do impossible things like deploying the police (again, most of them men) everywhere to keep vigil over tens of thousands commuters. We verbally assail the politicians, whether they are men or women, and find fault with them for not making tough laws.

We blame judges for not only delaying justice but also not handing out severe punishments to the perpetrators of such heinous crimes. However, we remain where we were when it comes to our basic attitude to women.

We men in India do not even promise ourselves that we shall change this attitude and help our youngsters cultivate a healthy respect towards the other gender. We encourage -- in the name of enjoying cinema and sitcoms in TV shows -- scenes in which boys standing around routinely pounce on passing girls, or manhandle them in moving buses. We see movies in which the rape victims are compulsorily married off to the rapists.

Even if we cannot change the attitudes of all men, the paramount need of the hour is to sensitise men in the police, all over the country, not just in cities, so that they can help minimise such atrocities against women.

(The author is a retired civil servant.)

(This article was published on December 21, 2012)
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Comments:

The discipline should come from within.No law can totally eradicate such horrible behavior.Many a time it is the woman responsible for the crimes on her women.How many Mothers -in-law are responsible for the crimes commited on their daughters-in-law?They are the ones who instigate their sons and in many cases encourage them to ill-treat their wives.This happens in many an affluent and 'educated' families but goes un-noticed.GOD save us.

from:  HARIPRIYA
Posted on: Dec 21, 2012 at 22:54 IST

The Indian male missed the romance bus altogether thanks to KhAP type prudishness to
beta bad name. Munda badnaam hua dillagi na jathaanekeliye. Iskeliye maabaap zimmedaar
hai beshaq aur dada pardada.

from:  Vague
Posted on: Dec 22, 2012 at 00:52 IST

One of the best write up, so thoughtfully and logically argued reflecting the sentiments of vast silent majority of the educated countrymen. Apart from sensitizing the police, the paramount need of the hour is for the bottom up revolution of the way our women are placed in our society. It is not uncommon to hear of dowry of a rupees one crore casually mentioned even among the middle class. Sadly, the sickening evil is not about legality or otherwise, but of the attitude and primitive medieval mindset of Indian society, which most often passes on the evil under the guise of traditions. Visual mediums self-righteously broadcasting this incident of rape 24X7 are the same promoting the evil by projecting most disgusting scenes of women painted in revolting gaudy colours, in the name of entertainment. Let us be frank. Indian women will continue to be treated less than an animal as an average Indian thinking pattern is very narrow. Indians by and large suffer from the various forms of gender bias, male chauvinism, castism etc with corresponding lack compassion for fellow human. One of the most striking features of China ascendency is due the country’s remarkable achievement in gender equality.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Dec 22, 2012 at 06:02 IST

a very good point. glad to read it here.
the only way to go about reducing this menace is that education and instructions on the issue should start at elementary school levels and at homes. impressionable age small children must be taught about equality of genders and the need for respecting all women, and not only their mothers. that abusing women/weaker gender or bullying others is not macho, not sexy but a criminal act and reprehensible. parents need to hammer in such mindsets in kids, and set examples of good behaviour.
should not india start a compulsory ethics and social behaviour class in schools like many other countries have? let's stop playing lip service after the crimes happen and do something constructive.

from:  super
Posted on: Dec 22, 2012 at 09:16 IST

As we read in the literature, violence against women, children, and the weak has always been there. It is perpetrated by the strong – usually men. The victims suffered in silence as the strong owned or dominated the message and the society did not dare stand up to them. Anonymity increased as the world got larger, cities became bigger, and the media multiplied. On public platforms, we address others as brothers and sisters but the anonymous cast a guilty view on the other anonymous weak people or weaker situations. Perhaps, the solution is to remove the anonymity. It means that everyone is being watched over. The weak are watched in case they need protection. The wickedly strong are watched in case they are up to any crooked tasks. We can be spiritual and let God do the watching or we become Orwellian and let high tech sensors protect us and rein those with criminal inclinations. Alternatively, assist the Indian male to adjust his psychological disposition as Mr. Sundaram suggested.

from:  Som Karamchetty
Posted on: Dec 22, 2012 at 23:17 IST

Horrible as this incident was and notwithstanding that this crime deserves the severest punishment, one residing outside New Delhi gets the feeling that a lot of the demonstrations are drama staged and fanned by the media.

from:  Samaritan
Posted on: Dec 23, 2012 at 19:05 IST

I agree fully with the very well stated sentiments of the author. More
than the rapists it is the currently practiced democratic governance
which is under trial. Political parties have not understood that too
cleaver hair splitting argument will cut no ice with the general
public. “Parliament is the central institution through which the will
of the people is expressed, laws are passed and government is held to
account” holds little meaning in India. Government of the people, by
the people, for the people has long been replaced by Government for
some select people like political activists, bureaucrats, well-heeled
crony capitalists. This is well understood by common people of India
and hence should come as no surprise of the Government silence and
spontaneity of the protest in Delhi. Man is hardwired not to learn
from history otherwise our politicians would have drawn lessons from
French revolution which was caused by anger of peasants and poor
burdened with ruinously high taxes levied to support a wealthy
aristocrats gluttonous lifestyles.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Dec 24, 2012 at 04:45 IST
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