Posted on 06-01-2013
Filed Under (WOMAN) by Shombit

From Discomfort Zone column by Shombit Sengupta in Financial Express and Indian Express

A whirlpool slurring reputations is where women can commonly get thrown into. When former French Health Minister Simone Veil and her sister managed to survive Hitler’s Nazi death camp after World War II, anti-Semitic Frenchmen made disparaging, gender-denigrating. Judgmental remarks like, “How they came back? It proves that it was not that bad.” Is it fair to victimize women victims with excoriating mental torture over and over?

On Indian TV one day a woman was protesting to local politicians about her neighbor being raped. When they went to the police station, instead of taking the complaint, the policeman demanded the raped woman’s character certificate from the Municipality Commissioner before filing the case. Similarly in Kolkata, a woman politician said the 38-year-old mother of 2 gang-raped last February by fellow Park Street night-clubbers was “a misunderstanding between a lady and her client, not at all a rape case,” inferring some hanky panky. Even after the Assistant Police Commissioner’s probe proved the case to definitely be gang-rape, the victim continues to await justice. Society so despises her that she can’t get an apartment to rent. Recently a Member of Parliament belittled the women protesting the 23-year-old’s fatal gang-rape in Delhi as “highly dented-painted women giving interviews on TV.” I’m not commenting on individual views, but representatives elected by the masses have to speak responsibly. Every citizen should demand destruction of this immoral attitude.

Anywhere in the world, a rape is a disgraceful criminal act, irrespective of whether the woman is a wife, sex worker or daughter of the man. Yes, several such perversions of fathers raping daughters have come to light in India and other countries. Actually rape is just one crime against women. The several other outrageous discriminations in India are killing the girl child either before or after birth, giving dowry, dowry deaths, forced marriage, honor killing, purdah, sati, widow seclusion, molestation and caste-related bigotry opposing women’s lawful rights. Not even a sex worker can be raped as she represents the dignity of women in society.

Very often people debate chauvinistically that women invite rape by titillating men with revealing dresses. In the 21st century’s internet and free economic digital world such insensitive comments have no place. According to the occasion, women, and not a third party, should exercise their own discretion to dress appropriately as per their choice. When people try to commoditize crimes on women by blaming women, simultaneously defending men’s natural sexual urges, they reveal prejudices and utter disrespect for half the world’s population. Women are not the prey for men’s sexual enjoyment.

Many Indian enterprises dealing with Western firms have a gender balance initiative within their captive environment. Unfortunately our cultural milieu reduces this exercise to naught. If a married woman works late or attends an official dinner with clients, she’s questioned at home. The same family “understands” even appreciates the husband’s late return home, attributing it to his importance at work. Nobody even wonders if his delay was due to traffic jams or courting his paramour. Indian women in general sacrifice for their family. Yet I’ve often heard a husband openly praise his mother’s cooking when comparing a dish his wife made. A daughter-in-law wearing pants is frowned upon, while the married daughter is allowed any kind of dress when she visits her parents’ home. “Her place” in society smacks of cultural injustice that curbs women’s freedom.

How can we find a remedy for horrible rape, the barbaric act of men? I’d say grass-roots level social learning is the major requirement, with innovative sex education for children. Without imposing this on society, I’m personally against capital punishment as I believe it’s not humane. I’d prefer change in the rapist’s attitude rather than death. Long-term imprisonment with psychological torture treatment for rape offenders will symbolically showcase to others the penalty that awaits such crimes. The Indian Constitution guarantees the right of freedom to citizens, but society denies that to women. So the first thing to eradicate is culture and caste-inflicted unfairness to women in a patriarchal society. It is in everybody’s hands, particularly the men, to prohibit and abolish, without political influence, the sexism we practice against women. We have to stop the root cause, which is giving preference to men at home. Taking out processions against criminal offences like gang-rape or candlelight mourning creates awareness, but will it make any dent in society in the long term?

Strong, disruptive, symbolic and sustaining activities with execution excellence are required to enforce laws or change the minds of men. Continuous, hard hitting acts can alter men’s consciousness. For example, writer-philosopher Simone de Beauvoir mocked society, went against Napoleon codes and 2000 years of rigid Vatican laws when she wrote “Manifesto of 343 Sluts” and got 343 famous Frenchwomen to sign it. This led to their Parliament legalizing abortion. It also stoked the embers of feminism. Western women, triggered by the 1968 French students’ movement, made their protest unforgettable by burning bras for women’s freedom. Sustaining momentum is required to break male domination over women. No woman activist or any political stand can achieve gender equilibrium. Only men’s whole hearted initiative to respect and save women can correct this major social flaw. Of course the State must protect its citizens by strictly implementing laws that exist, an action that’s weak and ineffective today.

To download above article in PDF Respect and save women

Financial Express link:http://www.financialexpress.com/news/respect-and-save-women/1055095/0

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