This time last year, Delhi had seen an unthinkable act of torture on one woman followed by the unimaginable strength of the protest that had ensued. And on 8th December this year, Delhi saw yet another similar incident in yet another posh area. Has anything changed over the past year? Why does it take a ‘Nirbhaya’ to happen for us to be enraged? And why are we silent now when every woman, harmlessly walking down the street, becomes a subject to nasty remarks and uneasy stares if not physical torture. Waiting for another ‘Nirbhaya’?
Or is it the need of the hour to take immediate, constructive steps towards not just saving our women but also to teaching our youth to respect them; to change a mindset that women are not inferior, weaker or mere objects to be mishandled, misused and mistreated.
And the way to change the mindset of our youth is not just by preaching to them about the rights and wrongs. It can only be derived at by involving them and making them believe that it is in their power to raise their voice, to take a step forward and to change things. All we will have to do to channelize their energy and turn them into potential leaders is to give them a platform and an opportunity. All we have to do is to tell them that they are being heard and then let them speak, do and bring about the changes.
When I asked the many school and college students I have recently met, why they thought our women were being subjected to such inhumane behaviour, I was surprised at how most of them blamed our culture and certain rituals that have been passed on as our own. But it may interest you to know that traditions like Sati were never a part of our culture. The Vedic texts and culture hold women in utmost respect. It is with the foreign invaders that our culture has been distorted and our text books still show the heavy bias in favour of those who once ruled us.
Another very interesting take away from these interactions was a unanimous demand for stringent laws. And even though I find myself in complete agreement with the demand, the question is that is that really the answer? Or is it more important to actually implement the existing laws to be more effective. Aren't their already enough laws about dowry deaths and honour killings? As Plato says, “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”
The question I thus put across to you is that is our society really based on fear of punishment and not on actually doing well?
In my opinion, the solution has to be two pronged – one, focusing on the short term damage control and the other focusing on the long term change in the very mindset. Under H.O.W. it will be our endeavour to work on both. For the short term, we need to focus on increasing security. It is essential that the law, administration and the government be either respected or feared, which is not the case anymore. We need to have exclusive police stations for women in every district and we need more women officers in every police station. It is also important for the women to be empowered themselves till the time we can bring in the mindset change. We will, therefore, approach schools and colleges for self-defense training.
It is, however, essential to change the way our youth perceives women. They need to be taught that a stranger woman does not deserve their stares, comments and physical overtures and their own sisters and friends are not their property to be killed in name of their honour. It is important to inculcate a certain respect for women as individuals and as human beings. It is therefore necessary that the school curriculum includes classes on moral science. We would also be working very closely with the NGOs that have been working for the cause in any capacity to be able to help provide a dignified life to women who seek help.