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Violence against women – it is time we looked within

There is something rotten around us… horribly rotten.

From Nirbhaya, to children getting molested in schools, rapes in hospitals or parks, molestation in trains, and now – mass molestation on high streets of Bangalore – the news of violence against women, girls and even small boys, has become near routine.

Each time a big one hits headlines, we revert to our ‘head in sand’ attitude. TV debates pick on some brain-dead comment by a politician, women rights messiahs demand someone’s resignation, social media and debate panelists flog the governments, pin blame on police and demand more laws. A few, who want to sound different, find fault with cinema. And of course, the most popular whipping boy – western culture.

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One place, we never look is — within.

By pinning all the blame on the government and police, we continue being the blindest ostriches possible.

Unless there is evidence that all those guilty in the Bangalore incident were known sexual offenders, I presume that they were otherwise regular common revellers. So Why did scores of male revellers on a busy street suddenly turn psychopaths?

Yes, police needs to do more, enforce law, catch the culprits and punish them. Even in this case, 1500 cops were on duty; they resorted to brute force/lathi-charge too, to chase away the molesting crowds. Whether that was a smart policing or not is a different debate altogether. But at best, policing is a post-event act.

Be it Nirbhaya or any other rape or molestation news in the country – many of these involve first time offenders turning criminals. A watchman, an uncle, a teacher, gym coach, a friend, even cops. They come from different social backgrounds, different ethnic groups, different educational class –  and we tend to focus on one of these on one occasion but forget that one thing is common – they are all amongst us. They are all Indians.

It is a sad state for our society. If we expect only the state or police to act, have we resigned to the fate that if men decide to not-rape a woman, it will be only because of potential penalties? Police can not enter the minds of otherwise commoners and reprogram them to ‘not molest’.

But the society/family can reprogram them.

And society/family has failed to!

We have a very sad breakdown of social values and family values. Parents, who are worried about the daughters coming late, don’t question their sons on their activities. Simple things about what exactly the son keeps doing outside home all day, or how he behaved with the freshers girls in his college this season should concern the parents. The chalta hai attitude has come into family systems too.

Social values long ago deemed it mandatory for elders in a neighbourhood to treat kids of neighbourhood/mohalla as their own responsibility and empowered them to even freely reprimand them. Today, that would be deemed an affront by the parents of the errant ward. Today, even if the elderly neighbours notice a stalker behind your daughter, they may hesitate to intervene; because last time they complained about your son whistling at girls at the street-corner, you probably told them to mind their own business.

Not that there weren’t predator uncles earlier, but the fear of social stigma was much higher. With social individualism becoming the norm, many don’t care as much about conducting themselves to stick to social norms.  This had led to the fringe getting widened, reaching our doorsteps.

It used to be said that “it takes a village to raise a child”. Now, the village has got fragmented, family has disappeared. Child has gone rogue.

And society is hiding behind fig leaves of police, politicians and laws.

No politician can fix this. Prime Minister actually tried to trigger the debate from ramparts of Red Fort on August 15, 2014. Alas! He too failed to trigger the debate.

Let’s not abdicate our responsibility to politicians and police.

We have to fix this…

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