Another MCA Chulia Street Prostitute MCA senator Chew Lee Giok, Chinese-only party MCA has slammed Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, but this time not for any political differences. His crime is not knowing who Korean pop star Psy was.
examined psychological reasons for the cruelty some men perpetuate on women.
The gender divide has sprung into sharp focus with the Nirbhaya incident. The beast that always lay at our feet has suddenly become despicable and unacceptable. What has changed in recent times to sharpen the man-woman divide? Apart from the fact that women have stepped out of homes to challenge men in fields outside the home, increased awareness has led us all to question afresh the longstanding sexist bias.
So much so that President Pranab Mukherjee in his first ever Republic Day address very aptly said that “time has come for the nation to reset its moral compass”. Stressing the need for ensuring gender equality for every woman, he cautioned that “the price of neglect will be high”.
Where do we begin? The process has started with the Justice Verma Committee report. And the first thing that the former Chief Justice of India has stressed is to stop eve teasing or sexual harassment and stalking. “It is a serious matter... these practices are tolerated by the society. We need to first deal with the first step as it graduates to sexual assault,” he has said.
Agreed. But I believe we also need to step back several steps and attack our ‘conservative’ upbringing and ingrained stereotypes. We need to adopt a multipronged strategy where mothers and fathers, teachers, and anyone else who has contact with children is sensitised. A red flag needs to go up every time a woman tells her son, “You are a boy, don’t cry like a girl!” or “Study hard; you are not a girl whom I can just marry off!” or when a man says “I expect my son to look after me in old age; beti toh paraya dhan hai!” Such statements strengthen the foundation of a future sexist society.
It’s the stray remarks, the stereotypes that we need to be conscious of; the little jokes, the small practices that will make the bigger difference if we are vigilant. Every woman needs to be proud of herself and respect other women. No girl should be told to fetch a glass of water for her brother, unless the brother can be asked to fetch one for her with equal ease. No sweets should be offered or had at the birth of a boy unless these can be had for a girl’s birth as well.
Zero tolerance to any discrimination or crime against women is imperative. These are times of crisis and critical measures are needed to deal with them. Eve-teasing, stalking and harassment are not fun! They are shameful practices that depraved men with low esteem indulge in. Boys must understand that repeatedly trying to contact a girl who avoids you is not romantic. It is loser-behaviour and shows you in a poor, depraved light. Girls must be taught to protest and raise a voice against even the most ‘harmless’ eve teasing or ‘flashing’. Do not be misled by the word ‘teasing’, it’s clearly harassment.
Female foeticide and dowry should be treated with the disgust these deserve and stringent punishments devised for the doctors and families who practise it.
But most of all — and this cannot be stressed enough — our cops need to be sensitised. They need to be schooled, psychoprofiled and trained again, and yet again, on how to respond to various women-related crimes. Surprise checks with decoy victims should be conducted on cops, and they should be forced to tape/video record all interactions pertaining to crime against women. The government needs to recognize and reward exemplary acts by policemen to help women.
Media has to accept its role in promoting stereotypes of women as lesser beings and in social and moral degradation. Raunchy lyrics that denigrate women and suggest/promote violent acts should be avoided. Television, which is far more invasive than movies, needs to consciously work on its portrayal of women in serials. Women actors should refuse to dance to raunchy numbers that suggest that a woman is an object to be desired, coveted and consumed!
Going back to our President’s speech, he urged government and civil society to work together. “Nothing should be allowed to spur cynicism, as cynicism is blind to morality. We must look deep into our conscience and find out where we have faltered. The solutions to problems have to be found through discussion and conciliation of views,” he said.
Very true. Efforts to make a difference are not just the responsibility of the government, but of civil society as well. Let us simultaneously try to influence the bigger picture, as well as attack the mess within us! It is MY responsibility; it is YOURS as well. It is HIS responsibility, and also HERS!