During the last few years my sensibilities have been bludgeoned like never before. Here’s why – Dhoni’s five year old daughter was issued a rape threat by because his team lost an IPL match, a woman in Vijaywada was set on fire by her stalker because she resisted his advances, Sonal, my friend, who heads an NGO which works for child rights narrated to me a horrifying incident of a father repeatedly raping his seven year old daughter even as he told her that this was the way all fathers showed their love to their little princesses!
In May 2020, India was shocked by an online chat group of school boys on Instagram called Bois Locker Room where the participants used to talk about porn, gang-raping minor girls and make obscene comments about even teachers.
In Saare Jahaan Se Achha there is a rape every 15 minutes.
It wasn’t always like this. Our culture always held woman in the highest esteem. We gave as much importance to our Goddesses as we did to our Gods. In Jagannath Consciousness there is a tale of Goddess Lakshmi teaching her husband Lord Jagannath and his elder brother Lord Balabhadra a lesson for their peccadillo. The Blast Furnaces in SAIL’s Rourkela Steel Plant are named after various Goddesses – Parvati, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Annapurna and Durga!
Then how did this happen. How come today 50 per cent of the population when it walks to the streets or roads or lanes of the country has to keep looking over its shoulder. How has India descended to this Hades – and is being labelled as ‘no country for women’.
There are many reasons. Intrusion of other cultures and influence of films, TV serials, music videos and social media have swamped our senses. Almost every medium commodifies and objectifies our women. In every second film the hero woos his heroine making obscene gestures, singing double-meaning songs and parading his machismo in a vulgar manner. A couple of reels later this very heroine falls for her hero’s offensive antics. So, what is the message that is being sent across. If you want to get your girl behave like the hero.
If the films give your modern Romeos tuition in wooing girls, almost every TV serial conducts a master class in reinforcing patriarchy and anachronistic values.
Music Videos specialise in song which are loaded with double entendre lyrics and very suggestive visuals which leave absolutely nothing for the imagination. OTT channels who are now competing with each other to push the envelope of violence, sadism and sexual entropy as much as possible have taken the ‘rape’ of our culture to another level.
So then what is the way out?
I believe that it is now time for the parents to come out and take a firm and positive stance. Here are a few pointers:
- Parents should treat both the boys and the girls as equals – give them same freedom and privileges. Sonal, told me about an incident which made me lose my sleep for days. She was working for an ad agency that was shooting at a construction site. Sonal noticed a visibly pregnant woman with six girls working there. The eldest of the girls who was around ten was walking in a funny way – with her legs spread at an angle. “Has she hurt her legs?” Sonal asked.
“No, beti. A man comes once a week and takes Bijli in an auto. He drops her back after a few hours. With the money he gives I feed myself and my daughters.”
“You are pregnant again? What are you going to do with the child?”
“If it is a boy, I will educate him and make him a gentleman. He will take care of me in my old age. If it is a girl I will strangle her,” she said in a matter of fact manner and walked away.
- Parents have to begin talking to both the boys and the girls almost from the cradle that both the genders are equal. Boys are not special. My friend Rajan’s daughter Kriti and her husband Bala are both working in the same bank. Often Kirti has to work late. As soon as she returns home, she is handed over their two year old son even before she has had the time to freshen herself and take a cup of coffee . Bala on the other hand returns from office and immediately sits in front of the TV relaxing. When I told the parents that they should talk to Bala Rajan’s response was curt, “Come on, Ramen. I can’t tell my son-in-law how to live his life. That is not in my culture. Anyways, taking care of the child is primarily a mother’s responsibility.”
- Women should learn to respect themselves. If a woman doesn’t treat herself with respect, guard her individual space no one else will. And once she does that the son and daughter will observe and follow suit.
- Our generation has a great tool in our hands – social media. Though it has been damned it can be used effectively to create a revolution. Parents should get together and start a movement to ban films, TV serials and series on OTT platforms which perpetuate patriarchy and show content that is vulgar and regressive.
- We should use social media to promote content which destroys stereotypes and promotes values which treat women as ‘children of an equal God’.
- Whenever there is a rape we should come together and raise our voices for speedier justice.
- Can we then as parents take a pledge that we will start this process of moral and ethical cleansing right from our homes and then take it to the virtual and physical world.
I would like to end with a poem ‘inspired’ by the sickening ‘Bois Locker Room’ incident.
The web of patriarchy and popular culture
Has reduced a woman to an object,
Her only purpose of being,
Is to, on command, bed and beget .
What is the way out
Of this morass of perversion?
To ensure every woman is treated
Like an equal part of creation.
She is not viewed as a paternal legacy
To be used and abused with brazen impunity.
We have to get the ‘bois’
Out of their locker room zone
And this has to begin from
The cradle, in every heart and home.
The ‘bois’ need to grow up
And finally become ‘human’
Only then can we create
A haven for every woman.
Written by : RAMENDRA KUMAR
Ramendra Kumar is a writer by passion, a storyteller by obsession, a dancer by inspiration and now a cancer warrior by determination. His family thinks he is insane. He calls himself Ramen. He has authored 42 books and his writings have been translated into 30 languages and have found a place in several textbooks and anthologies.