Women’s safety: A healthy shift in at­ti­tude re­quired

Delhi's young men talk about the work they do to keep their women friends and oth­ers safe and say mind­sets need a 360-de­gree change

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Aan­chal Bedi — De­vansh — Vishnu — Sau­rav

There we go again. Even as the na­tion is still re­cov­er­ing from the hor­rific gang rape of a phys­io­ther­apy stu­dent in Delhi on De­cem­ber 16, 2012, an­other rape case of a 23-year-old pho­to­jour­nal­ist in Mum­bai has shook the peo­ple of In­dia's fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal. While there have been demon­stra­tion against the crimes, with thou­sands tak­ing to the streets in protest, so­cial net­work­ing sites have been flooded with sta­tus up­dates like ‘hang the b******s’, ‘death penalty to rapists’, ‘cas­tra­tion is the only de­ter­rent’, and the govern­ment has vowed to take ac­tion. But has any­thing re­ally changed? Will any­thing change at all? If yes, then how? Here’s what In­dia’s young men have to say.

Sau­rabh Gora from Kirori Mal Col­lege (KMC), Univer­sity of Delhi (DU) feels rapes hap­pen due to in­her­ent pa­tri­ar­chal na­ture of the so­ci­ety and wide­spread law­less­ness that en­cour­ages it. “While some rape cases hog the lime­light, there are many which are not even re­ported. Would the rape of a Dalit woman make front page news? Would can­dle­light vig­ils take place for rag­pick­ers? Of course not! Rape is rape; ed­u­ca­tion about gen­der equal- ity needs to be­gin at early stages. Ur­gent mea­sures like fast track courts and harsher pun­ish­ments should be in place to erad­i­cate this evil from our so­ci­ety.”

Ac­cord­ing to a global poll con­ducted by Thom­son Reuters, In­dia is the fourth most danger­ous coun­try in the world for women and the worst coun­try for women among the G20 coun­tries. Many think that the tra­di­tional In­dian so­lu­tion is to keep girls safe and that women’s fam­i­lies need to be stricter with them, pre­vent them from go­ing out at night etc and wear less re­veal­ing clothes. But is that right? De­vansh Kam­boj from Khalsa Col­lege, DU says, “Im­pos­ing cur­fews on women and keep­ing them in­side the homes is not go­ing to work. Sep­a­rate ladies’ train car­riages might pro­tect women for now, but why should we have to use them? Th­ese rape cases bring to light how far we re­ally are from en­abling women to go through their daily lives with­out a sense of fear at the back of their minds. Though the govern­ment makes prom­ises to take ac­tion, noth­ing con­crete ever hap­pens.”

An­other stu­dent named Vishnu Ma­hesh­wari from KMC says, “For women across In­dia, fear is a con­stant com­pan­ion and rape is the stranger they may have to con­front at ev­ery cor­ner, on any road, in any pub­lic place, at any hour. De­spite the protests, news cov­er­age and hul­la­baloo about women’s safety, noth­ing re­ally changes. Pa­tri­archy knows no gen­der, it is a mind­set. This epi­demic won’t end un­til this men­tal­ity is chal­lenged to its core. Whether rich or poor, girls are not ob­jects and they are not the weaker sex. For any sub­stan­tial change, In­di­ans have to ad­dress the way girls and women are treated over­all.

No so­cial over­haul hap­pens overnight, change will be­gin with ed­u­cat­ing to­day’s youth. Let’s hope it doesn’t take a gen­er­a­tion be­fore real trans­for­ma­tion is seen. We have or­gan­ised a so­ci­ety called ‘The Ed­u­ca­tion Tree’. We go to dif­fer­ent col­leges and spread aware­ness about rape cul­ture pre­vail­ing in In­dia. We carry play cards, posters and ban­ners dis­play­ing mes­sages like ‘stop rape’, ‘I have been through this,’ etc. With all the means pos­si­ble, I en­sure that girls in my group are safe when they are trav­el­ling with me. I drop them to the Metro sta­tion ev­ery­time they leave. Even while on their way to home, I stay in touch with them through What­sapp. I work with an NGO named Youth Par­lia­ment Foun­da­tion. We go to and dis­cuss top­i­cal is­sues like rapes with chil­dren. We sen­si­tise them about prob­lems be­ing faced by women in our so­ci­ety and teach them about gen­der equal­ity.

Mum­bai jour­nal­ists hold protest to con­demn the gang rape

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