Author: Monsoon Bissell
Mental Health Counsellor And Educationist
IT IS a very disturbing morning. The papers carry eight separate incidents of violence against women. A young woman’s face is slashed for the second time within two months by a man she rejected. A video is made of a private, intimate interaction and posted on a porn site without the victim’s knowledge. And a number of incidents of molestation and gang-rapes seem to occupy just as many columns as they did in yesterday’s edition. The deterrents, if any, are clearly ineffective if the crimes are so similar and so common day after day.
In the video clip case, the boys responsible are still at Jawaharlal Nehru University while the girl has had to flee, as per the news report. That is a trend too. The Delhi Public School MMS case followed a similar pattern with a far graver outcome.
Maybe we will move in a scarier direction where locking up the victim is the norm
How does one not get discouraged in the face of this? I know anger and outrage are ready responses; yet I am left with a sense that it is anger and frustration that has led to this pervasive violence in the first place.
And, of course, a total sense of entitlement. Men are entitled to exert power — we have condoned it in many arenas so why not in this one. They are taught more and more to trounce the weaker opponent. Rape is a weapon, used strategically during war and extensively during peace both inside and outside the home. What easier target than a child/woman who either trusts her caretaker or is victimised because she is alone in a city that has yet to learn the value of safeguarding its women and children.
The perpetrators are also following a cultural trend — the men who rape women do it in packs, finding safety in numbers. Girls are attacked in schools and homes by the very custodians of their safe havens.
Maybe the growing malaise is the disempowerment that many feel and translate into violent acts — violating a woman’s body or crushing a man to death under their car? Human nature expects male aggression and societies like ours help perpetuate harmful ways of expressing it. Damaging clichés like “boys will be boys” and “the girl asked for it” still ring shrill in this new India. How can we expect a young man to not believe he can have any woman if the hero in Dabangg gets his way by intimidating the heroine into submitting to his “love”?
Conveniently, this collectivist and traditional culture is morphing into one where sexual violations are considered an individual’s problem and an inevitable byproduct of a modernising nation.
In many ways, the changing culture may well be feeding the fungus. In part by promoting the sevenyear- old girl who is thrusting her pelvis at a male judge as she emulates item girl moves to win a prize on television. Do we even consider the message we send when we brand women who do catchy and popular songs as “item girls”? One definition of an item is something we put on a list to buy and tick off — raping a woman is often about dehumanising her, possessing her and discarding her.