Still a long way to go…..
Of late, an incident which has shaken the faith of people once again on law and order in society is a topic of discussion among almost every group of individuals. Those who are unaware of this episode, let me add it to your knowledge that few days back, in one of the metropolitan cities of India a young software engineer was murdered in broad daylight in a busy railway station while she was waiting for her train to go to her office.
No. I am not here to do research on ‘How’s?’’ Whys?’ and ‘what’s?’ of this event. This is the work of the investigation teams who must be doing every bit of their job with sincerity. My motive of writing this post is somewhat different.
Now coming back to the incident; as I work in the same organization with which the victim was also associated, discussion on this issue with my friends, family members and colleagues is quite inevitable.
So, in a similar discussion, sharing his opinion one of my colleagues said, “That time was appropriate when women used to be leader at home and men used to be the wage earner. Now women have started stepping out of their home and they have adopted the role of wage earner. So, these kinds of incidents will happen assuredly. Women should not try to earn and roam outside as this is against our culture and tradition. She would not have been murdered, if she’d preferred to stay at home.”
I was very disappointed and displeased at his statement. I think it has become a very common practice to blame the female victim every time a crime takes place against her. When almost every organizations( private and state-owned) are making norms for gender inclusion, when many initiatives are being taken to encourage female candidates to come forward in employment field ;why does this question still arise- ‘Why do women need to work?’ ?
Let me try to explore more on this issue. Earlier, a girl child was not given education. Even if she was educated, serving her husband and her in-laws was implanted in her mind as her real duty. Women did not use to work outside. Even after working 24X7 inside their home, their work was given no importance. They did not have any say in family matters. Their self-respect and dignity were as good as immaterial. They were not considered as a part of decision making process. A woman was treated just like an unpaid maid. And what kind of safety she had at her home? Domestic violence and marital rape were part of her daily routine (It happens even now in many places). If she raised her voice she would be hushed up by more violence. She had only two options- Either to continue in the wretched relationship or to commit suicide (as a last resort). She had no place to go; in most of the cases her maternal home won’t support her. Basically, she did not have any basis of survival on her own. She was not treated like a human being just because she was dependent on her husband for her existence.
When a girl watches her mother getting tortured and not being given apposite respect at home, she decides: ‘I will not let this happen to me.’ When a mother realizes that she does not get respect because of dependence, she decides- ‘I’ll not let my daughter meet the same fate.’
Gradually, she understood that to gain respect and recognition in society and at home, one has to be self-dependent. Self-dependence comes from financial independence that again comes from education. So she started making efforts to educate her daughter (Thanks to the pioneers of reforms of women empowerment!). When one gets educated, he/she realizes that there is not any difference between a man and a woman except that of chromosome. After getting qualified, she tries to get employed so that she does not have to live on the alms given to her by her husband/father. One who is educated and is earning will never tolerate anyone’s undue dominance over herself/himself. In this way, she received the much deserved respectable position in society.
And yes, in the era of inflation, more number of wage earners in a family has become a need of the hour. So, a woman has to go to work to sustain herself and her family in a better way. However, this is not the sole reason as many women of elite class can be seen working in various professions.
I do not understand why wage earning is still considered as an additional responsibility for a woman. Since childhood, the whole conditioning of the mind of a child is done in such a way that getting a job is an option for a girl and that she should always give priority to her family over her profession. However, this condition does not apply for a boy. For him, earning is mandatory. Then why doesn’t it is considered as an obligation for her as well?
Nowadays, women are outperforming men in every field. Many men cook their own food, wash their clothes and do all household works along with their job. All this is being done to become self-dependent. In many families, wife is earning more than her husband. All I want to say is that the segregation of work based on gender which existed few decades back is now fading away gradually.
In many families, a son and a daughter are given same education, facilities and luxuries etc. Their upbringing is done in such a way that gender discrimination is unknown to them. Getting a job and continuing in it is given as much importance for the daughter as is given for the son. This helps in filling the void rift of gender discrimination which in itself will lead to effacement of many crimes from society.
Now, coming to the other part of the story;
We are very good at playing blame games. Right?
I mentioned in the starting how my colleague blamed the victim for her own murder. Not only my colleague but a majority of people of our society blame the victim (specifically female victim) for her plight. In this particular case, her father dropped her at the railway station. Had her any guy friend dropped her or had she lived with her friends in a flat, another set of reasons for her characterlessness would have cropped up from this so called ‘blamer’ sect of society.
Even after knowing whole biology, they blame the woman for giving birth to female child.
Every time we hear a rape case, rather than talking about the reprehensible act of the perpetrator a large part of our society start to shoot questions on the victim like ‘Why was she roaming with a guy?’, ‘What was she doing at that place?’, ‘Why was she outside her home late at night?’, ‘Why was she wearing that kind of dress?’ etc. They do not think even once before making derogatory remarks on her character. They always have plethora of reasons to make her responsible for her devastated condition. The butcher who used the woman as an object for satiating his desire takes a back seat in their discussion.
I remember, a very good friend of mine once called me at night. She could barely utter a single word as she was crying inconsolably. After asking many times, she managed to speak. She shared with me an incident which happened with her that evening. After an industrial visit, she was returning to her college in RTC public bus along with her friends and faculty members. She was sitting on a seat. A guy who was sitting on the seat behind her was pestering her. When she complained against him to her faculty; he asked the guy to behave properly. The guy did not say anything at that time. Presumably, his destination stop was approaching so he stood up. While getting off the bus, in an unnecessary haste he touched her breast intentionally, used some abusive words for her and fled way. Before my friend could discern what actually happened he had already got off the bus. She told me it was better that not a single friend of her noticed it as otherwise it would have become a matter of shame for her. And also, she did not inform her parents about this incident as they would blame her.
Again, I do not understand in our society why every sexual offence/act of obscenity is related to pride and shame. Why can’t it be treated as just a sexual offence? Just because of this attached stigma, many victims do not come forward to report their cases. Not only women, many men who are victims of sexual harassment prefer to stay mum because of the mentality that they would be laughed at; and they themselves would be blamed for the crime. At most they confide to their close friend and choose not to report it to the legal authority.
Touching an individual without his/her consent is a crime which can never be and must never be given credence on any ground. People should be taught to say ‘NO’. They should be directed to become least tolerant towards injustice. They should not be blamed for an act which has already traumatized them and which will keep on haunting them for a long time in future.
People must understand that baseless allegations and blaming will do no good to the society. Why don’t we try to curb the crime at its very bud? Endeavors should be to thwart the crime at the source end i.e. from where the crime emanates. More focus should be on the determinants of the criminal instinct. If the causes are suppressed then definitely the crime rate will decline.
The proposals and recommendations should not be retrograde and catabolic. Reverting to the pristine era is not advisable and feasible. Nor is it commendable and rational in this generation of fast and progressive development. You cannot base your arguments on manusmriti in the age where women officers are being granted permanent commission in the highly prestigious and challenging defense services of the country. Rigidity and extremism should be avoided.
One has to keep pace with time.
Live and let live.
Stay happy. Stay blessed.
Goodbye until next time
*Views expressed are personal