Who is responsible for her plight?

The increasing number of rapes, molestations, acid attacks and various other crimes on women, has instilled fear and a strong sense of insecurity among most people. Women don’t feel safe in their own cities. While some of them take precautions, so as to stop any untoward incidents, the others have started raising their voices in hope that it would bring about some change in the system. The law no doubt, has been made more stringent, the society has become more aware, but the situation remains the same and so does the question, “Who is responsible for these crimes? When will they stop?”

“A woman like any other individual, has the right to dress as she wishes and to do what she wants. This is her birth right and no one can take that away from her. Asking a woman to change or to take precaution is like asking a man not to step out of his house, because there’s a mad dog on the loose,” says Vichitra Johnson, engineering student at Vemana Institute of Technology. We have seen the exploitation of the female gender since centuries. Crimes against women are committed every minute, some of them so heinous that they have left scars in the consciousness of every individual, a black mark on the society at large.

It is said that a woman’s dressing provokes a man to commit the crime, which was a sin in thought itself. However there are arguments that speak better, children are being molested too, and it certainly isn’t their dressing that is provoking these perverted men. When petty matters like dressing and reaching home before dark takes the limelight, the actual issue becomes secondary. The ‘cause’ for which the nation must stand up for, is lost in darkness.

Our culture speaks of respect and reverence to women, no other culture has so many female deities like we do. But does all this begin and end with words alone? Today, we hear of our great cultural heritage in the advices given to women and at times when we need to back our country up when topics of degrading moral values surface. On the one hand we call ourselves a developing nation, a transforming society. We are a ‘god fearing’ country, we worship female deities. And on the other hand women are treated as the weaker sex, who have to safeguard themselves from all the scot free criminals and the potential ones.

Sankesh Ranka, BBM student expressed his sadness at the fact that people still tell their daughters to dress right, to come back early, to stay safe and they let their sons do as they please because they are men. Parents are of course concerned for their children, but doesn’t discrimination begin at home, he questions.

Is it a woman’s silence that has been taken for granted over the ages, or is it the subordinate role that women have taken in the past that the society wants them to uphold even now, or is it sheer dominance that men want to exert on women. In all these arguments, the question still remains unanswered.

“I believe it is not the system that has to change. A change in the system may infuse fear in the people but men who want to be sexists, people who want to disrespect women will still do so. So I believe if there is a change to come about, it must be a change in the attitude, perception and mindset of the people. It is a thought that leads to an action,” says Mahesh Karunakaren, former State Level Wrestler.

Girls must be taught their rights, parents must treat their daughters as equals to their sons and sons must be taught to respect their sisters and the women around. That is where empowerment of women begins. It is there that a girl will learn that she has the right to raise her voice, silence is an option and she can opt to ‘speak’. Eve teasers are definitely someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s husband. When they decide to look at women differently, to change their mindset, only then will a woman be able to walk out of her house without the fear of being teased or harassed on the streets.

When a man realises that a woman has the right to choose her partner, she has the freedom to reject proposals that come to her, she is a human being with her own set of beliefs, acid attacks will stop. When women start connecting to other women and look at the other with sympathy and understanding, female infanticide and dowry cases will stop. Its not just a man but a society as a whole that bears the shame of the exploitation women face.

People around must realise that if there were no women to manage a home, the society would go haywire. Working or non working, women deserve respect for their very existence because they are no less than any man on earth, said Suraj Cyril, Visual Communication student and basket ball player.

We have Indira Gandhi, Kalpana Chawla, Ashwini Nachappa, PT Usha, Mary Kom, Kiran Bedi and then we have ‘Nirbhaya’. Let our nation be recognised by our achievements and not by our ruthlessness. It is silly that in the end we blame the woman after she all that she has gone through, after she has borne the brunt of a man’s deeds.

Do not blame her for being the victim, it is you and I who have given way for her to be the victim. It is not her silence, but ours that is responsible for her plight.

Every individual must change their attitude and begin respecting women, not because they have withstood the tests of time or because they are the source of life or because they have fought for generations and have come to a stage where they can live independently. Respect her because they are individuals like anybody else, with equal opportunities and equal rights. A woman deserves better and it is only ‘You’ and ‘I’ who can bring this change. It begins with you, in your mind!

Originally published in the Tabor Kirana, All India Catholic magazine

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