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
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