Cruelty against women is either on the rise or more are getting reported these days. The umpteen number of rape cases against women have been reported so far, but the latest one that gains prominence is the revenge attacks on women in the form of acid attacks. What exactly do the men who commit these heinous crimes think of themselves? Treating women like filth is not acceptable at all, they don't deserve it. India is a country where women are worshiped and considered above men in many respects. We have innumerable Goddesses whose worship forms an important aspect of our every day life. A culture that has strong ties with many a Goddesses, treating women so badly is indeed painful. Has India become a country of sick and male chauvinistic people? I do beg to differ, but there are indeed some things that need to be set right if our country has to progress.
Today, there were reports of acid attacks on hapless women. Surviving a rape or an acid attack is pretty psychologically taxing for any women. Some men think they are physically stronger than women and can get away with anything. Especially in a country like India where the law can be easily manipulated by the rich and the powerful, it is possible for such deviants to get that kind of an impression. And our law and order system drives their point further down. In most cases, the rape victims are forced by the police officers themselves to withdraw the case, and even if this doesn't happen, the victims have to go through umpteen embarrassing trial sessions in court before they finally realize that the law is just not sufficient to get them justice. We should realize that we have just touched the tip of the ice berg when we say that some of the cases get their fair share of importance in the media; there are many more cases that either not get reported or are neglected.
The question is how to tackle the issue of harassment against women? Do these situations keep happening because the Parliament cannot pass enough laws to ensure the safety of women? Or because the law enforcers cannot manage to do that? or because the kids in India are not given value-based education at the right age?
I think the social well being of India has a lot to do with the kind of young men and women it produces. At one end of the scale, there are young kids who grow up seeing their fathers ill-treating and violently thrashing their mothers, sleeps with other women ans still getting treated as the hero of the family. In most of the lower class families, women do not leave their husbands' places despite having to suffer too much of torture and mental stress because they are not economically independent and worry about their children growing up without one of their parents. Also, because the woman's own family would be too poor to take her in and would be under the control of her elder/younger brother who wouldn't want to add any additional burden to his family expenses. The woman then, has no where to go than to get suppressed under the tyranny of her husband. She will most often have to take in severe physical and mental tortures, including the husband sleeping with other women or forcing her to subjugate to other men that he brings home (God, the thought itself is revolting!).
A boy who grows up seeing all this, and yet realizing that his father is considered as a man of authority slowly gets into a state of mind that women are inferior to men, both physically and mentally, and that men are supposed to dominate over them. Adding to that, is the family's utter indifference to teaching the kids some good manners like respect the elders, women, do good etc. These kids grow up to be burglars, criminals, alcoholics, social deviants, etc. with complete disrespect for the society as a whole. They are also completely revengeful to the others in the society who apparently live a very prosperous life, party almost every night, live in plush neighborhoods and earn great salaries. While they suffer amidst poverty and chaos, due to no fault of theirs, another section of the society enjoys life.
It is not the kid's fault that he is in such a situation, and the result! He finds solace raping young women, even kids in the neighborhood. He grows up experiencing the dominance of men and tries to implement the same in his life. His mental state is not developed enough to understand the great philosophies of gender equality or women empowerment. Now, let me ask you, is this the kid's fault or the society's fault that the kid has grown up to be a social deviant of this sort? I think the government has a huge role to play in controlling these kinds of criminal behaviors in youth.
- Better living conditions and giving the lower class families, a better way of life, would be the first step
- Improving the conditions of women in such families and protecting them in case they want to speak out about their distress would all be steps in the right direction
- Giving value-based education to kids is the next step.
India has been a value-based society from time immemorial. The reason why this geographically and culturally diverse country has stood the test of time is because it was built on the foundation of a value-based system. This is something Indians should not compromise on, but this is the main thing that is getting compromised as the governments look at people merely as easily pliable vote banks and not as living entities that need its support in improving their living conditions.
The debate is not complete without the mention of the youth at the other end of the spectrum. The young and vibrant youth from the highly affluent families, the families where the mother and the father live their own separate lives. Even in these families, the parents keep running behind money and find no reasoning behind giving their children value-based education. The children grow up seeing their arrogant and self-centered parents and how would they be any different when they grow up! They grow up having a strong feeling that their parents have the money and power to save them from any possible situation they could get into, be it rape cases or even murder. Adding to that is the weak judicial system and the corrupt officials who handle the bureaucracy and the judicial system. The government itself is reeling in corruption, imagine the endless possibilities in this so called democratic India for people to get away with whatever they do! The problem here is also not the individual, but the society as a whole. I am really unable to understand why anyone would want their kids to grow up as a burden to the society. The fact is that no one would. But their own perceptions about the world is so distorted that they fail to realize how to implement the value-based systems in their families or they just don't care.
What ever it be, it would be more wise to blame the situation than to blame the individual, though the individual's share in this entire fiasco is not unforgivable. But looking at the bigger picture, we tend to realize some of the major causes, or more technically, the root causes that have to be tackled if the problem has to be uprooted completely. According to me, the following would serve as the root causes to the decline in the societal value system.
The sad state of affairs in the lower class families in India - with special emphasis on the conditions of women and children in these families. Women should be empowered and children should be given value-based education. This would in turn keep the man under control. Women empowerment in these societies is the only option to keep the violent men in those families on their toes. The children would also get to experience a family environment where their mothers and sisters are respected and loved. This is enough to turn them into responsible citizens of tomorrow.
What the government does currently in this respect is utterly dismal. The efforts the government puts in (if at all they do) is inadequate considering the huge size of India and the percentage of families living under poverty. Also, with the money allocated for all this not getting correctly percolated to the right people, but going to the corrupt officials and bureaucratic, it is not surprising to see the dismal state of affairs in this context.
Lack of value-based educational systems - Most of the middle class people have good family bonding and send their kids to schools where value-based education is offered (In such schools, the teachers also come from middle class families and they understand the value of family bonding and value-based teaching). The kids from affluent families generally grow up in an environment where they hardly get to meet their parents everyday or are sent to boarding schools at a very early stage of their lives. The schools that they go to also are designed in a way to make them more self-reliant. The importance in those schools is not to teach them moral values, but to make them more aggressive and fit to take over their family business empires. When the environment in they grow up gives minimal or no importance to moral growth, how can we blame the kids for picking up the wrong qualities!
Here also, government's support is very much required in effecting changes like, making moral science a mandatory part of the curriculum across all schools in India. Also, ensuring that along with all the science and maths that are crammed into the minds of kids, moral science should be given its due share of importance. The children should be made to realize the importance of learning such subjects and practicing them in real life. Stories from our age old mythologies or history would in itself play a very crucial role in generating the interest in kids.
All this might seem difficult to implement, but let me tell you it's not impossible. Change is not easy, taking the first step is difficult but continuing it becomes easier as one progresses in that path. Think of the innocent girls and women who get raped everyday. Think of their mental state. Think of their injured and bleeding bodies and lifeless faces. This is the least we can do to help them, if we actually want to. Please let us do something to save them. Even after all this, if something happens to them, then, we have the conscience to tell them that we have tried our best to curb violence against them. At least then, we could look into their eyes and console them. But till then, we will all have to look down with guilt while talking to them. And we have already dont it so many times that we don't have any conscience left in us to even do that! God save our souls.
Another interesting point I want to note is the way in which such crimes are handled in India and other countries. The post has already become quite big, so I will include it in my next post.
P.S: A word of caution - I am not saying that there are no criminals or rapists coming from the middle class families. But it is true that with the kind of families that they grow up in, there is very less chances of them getting morally corrupt. I also intend to state that all the kids from the lower class families or the really affluent ones are not bad by nature, my only point here is that there are more chances and opportunities in those societies for the kids to come under such negative influences. But ultimately, it is also about the individual. Despite every good upbringing or the best possible background he grows up in, if he wants to be morally corrupt, no one can stop him from doing that. My only intention is to identify the situations where things can go wrong and to address the root-cause there. I hope I have succeeded in bringing out that point effectively.