Happy International Women’s Day everybody! On International Woman’s day I greet all the demonstrators of Delhi and all the many other cities of India. By protesting not just once but many many times you have made a hole in the fabric of silence that prevails over India on gender issues.
Woman of India have to stand up against the violence and brutality (be it physical, sexual or psychological in nature) that they are exposed to. They have to start talking, protesting, denying, exposing and decrying abuse. Breaking the culture of silence means making society aware of the imbalances that prevail and saying “I am a woman, a citizen of this country like every other man and i have rights too and I will not tolerate this any more”.
Let us hope that the Indian Presidents good wishes are taken more seriously by Indian authorities and society in future.
The Indian commission set up to review the status of sex crimes in India has submitted its report in record time. The recommendations range from better implementation of existing laws, sensitizing the population to gender issues and more severe legal sentences. However the biggest challenge for all social organisations will be trying to change antiquated patriarchal attitudes which legitimize violence and injustice against woman.
Will India consequently implement the recommendations of the commission? Will the citizens of the country wake up to this call for social change or forget it and return to their trudge through life based on antiquated customs and habits which have little relevance to the 21st century.
The initial reactions are promising. The massive demonstrations in Delhi and the resonance to the one billion rising campaign which was organised worldwide on 14th February are starting points. Two other examples are the reaction of the Shri Ram school in New Delhi or Anoushka Shankar’s (daughter of Ravi Shankar) appeal to many to join the campaign.
Many men in India grow up in male dominated surroundings. Based on a patriarchal society with socially and culturally accepted separation of genders, men have little contact with females in the post puberty phase. Due to the lack of if not limited natural interaction with young women they often grow up with false notions about manliness seeing sexual dominance as necessary to show their manliness. One predominant notion that prevails among young men is the concept of “asli admi” ( the Real man) which correlates with among other characteristics the need to be sexually aggressive in order to satisfy women. So the underlying contorted ideas about masculinity among many men in India influences the attitudes prevailing in the Indian social scene.
There are very few role models of manliness that don’t involve molesting a woman. Bollywood exacerbates the matter by often depicting its film heroes with stalking or related mannerisms. Lacking a role model of masculinity, Indian men often tend to view such mannerisms as worth emulating.
There are many underlying reasons behind the Delhi gang rape and the high occurrence of rape in India, all of which need to be addressed. But social organisations in India need to correct this distorted notion of masculinity by educating the masses on a broader base than done so far and breaking down the prevailing ‘culture of silence’. It is time that social institutions in India work towards developing a “youth culture” that promotes a healthy, open, positive approach to sexuality and a normal relationship between both genders.
Welcome to my blogging adventure. I hope to be sharing my opinions and experience on women’s rights in India. The 2012 Delhi gang rape case has moved me deeply, and so I want to say my piece and hope it makes others think, too. I hope you’ll stick around – let’s see what we can discover together.