Woman walks into lane
Two men in bike follow
Molesters approach woman and grab her
Assaulted woman try to escape
Both molesters grab her and drag her to their bike
Woman on resisting is slapped and thrown on road
These shameful lines were repeatedly scrolling on the news channel along with the disgusting visuals captured by CCTV in lane of Bangalore on New Year’s Eve. Simultaneously there was a police officer reporting about the nabbing of six men in connection of infamous Bangalore mass molestation incident on New Year’s Eve.
In last five days since the incident, I have heard and read so much about the incident- Why it happened and how it could have been avoided? So many of the reasons proffered are ridiculous and so much ‘GYAN’ about the prevention superficial, unfair or eye-wash.
There was typical complacent reaction of the state Home Minister G Parmeshwara “Such incidents do happen on New Year’s eve and Christmas ……….there are women who are harassed or treated badly” He then follow it up with typical insensitive statement “They tried to copy the westerners, not only in their mindset but even in their dressing, so some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kinds of things do happen.” After much hue and cry he retracted, claiming his statements were ‘misquoted.’ It is not about yet another minister putting his foot in his mouth by speaking his private thoughts stupidly in public. This is the pervasive, typical male response also shared unfortunately by some women who have given up thinking with their own minds and lend their tongues to their husbands’ words. Western clothes to be blamed????????? If girls wearing western clothes (meaning short dresses), drinking and partying (hence following Western Culture) are to be molested then the boys who take liberty to molest them, which culture are they following? Are they following Indian Culture???
There were usual admonishes about different aspects of partying. Few objected that partying should be done in closed, protected spaces not on roads. Roads are no place for partying! So it wasn’t issue about gender inequality but rather a case of poor law and order and wrong choice of venue for partying!! ?
If women are not safe partying in a crowd of 60,000 people with sixteen hundred cops on duty during celebration of happier times, can they be safe anywhere? Are girls not molested in buses, trains, cinema halls, discos, pubs….even homes? There was a report of similar incident of drunken men molesting dancers of foreign troupe and female guests in a five star hotel in Southern India on eve of New Year!
As for not being the issue of gender inequality- Was any man groped indecently by women in the mob that day? So it is very much a gender issue! It’s an issue of GENDER TERRORISM!
Molestation of women is caused by vicious confluence of repressive patriarchal system, retrogressive and exploitative media, oppressive sociology and permissively lax law and order.
Patriarchy is established everywhere in every aspect of our life. It’s about POWER, displaying male dominance. It’s about ‘putting women in her place.’ It’s a way of refreshing woman’s memory that no matter how educated, successful, competent, intelligent she is, men can still treat her as mere sex-object in public and she has no choice but to endure it.
Also in patriarchal system the needs of women are secondary. There is lot of ignorance about women- physically, mentally, sexually, emotionally. So instead of investing time in discovering feelings and preference of women, men tend to apply male perspective for attracting female attention or displaying their own interest in them leading to eve-teasing, molestation etc.
Same pervasive patriarchal mindset in Media, Police, Politics and Courts ensures that such incidents are not punished severely
Role of Media
Mass media plays significant role in influencing people’s attitudes. We daily come across media reinforcing prejudices and stereotypes. Whether it is print, television, video games or movies, women is either portrayed as sex objects or victims. Representation of women is unfair and exploitative. They are usually shown as mere eye candies, objects to be won, trophies to be shown off, and playthings to be abused. She is either an ideal wife/mother or a vamp.
Wherever you look, thanks to the media you feel as if mass seduction of males is going on by the women. Women who are used to sell products by media are usually shown in sexy outfits and subordinate to men. Women are dehumanized and compared to objects just to appeal to men. This kind of sexist portrayal is detrimental in many ways and plays a major role in women oppression. Not only it reinforces objectification of women in psyche of growing boys but it also skews up the self perception in young growing girls. They compare themselves with their role models as shown in television, electronic and print media and emulate them in dress and behavior but do not have the knowledge and experience to pull it off safely.
Our so called ‘family movies’ (worse in Tollywood) romanticize the eve-teasing and stalking as ideal way to woo a girl. Our movie songs suggest that it’s okay to just grab a woman’s waist. Such movies do influence our youth who turn into road- side Romeos, tease and molest the girls on road, colleges, mall, restaurant, discos, pubs, cinema halls, anywhere in mistaken belief that the Eves do like to be teased! Unfortunately few girls fed on same movie gibberish and growing in a culture where there are not many social opportunities for boys to socialize with girls, mistake the attention of eve-teasing and aggression as passionate love and possessiveness.
Media should challenge the gender attitudes permeated by society and portray women as intelligent, confident, emancipated human beings rather than just domestic and decorative objects. Such positive reconstruction of women image in media is necessary to restore the real dignity and status of women and reshaping socio-cultural values and attitudes.
First it’s the learned belief in most of our society that this is how men should behave towards women. There is a ‘Who is bigger Macho-man’ contest going on right from the school and continuing throughout life. Art of dominance is always at display vis-à-vis women. Sense of power and entitlement is advocated at expense of women. Male fraternity encourages it and when there is a crowd of such men it soon turns into a mob molesting women completely disregarding her rights over her body. More the victim is nervous more pleasant fun it becomes for the ‘bully’ man.
Social attitude of older generation like ‘boys will be boys’ ensures apathy to change while perpetuating misguided beliefs like molestation and rape is woman’s fault, aggressive persistence is attractive to women, gigantic male ego is desirable attribute etc. This repressive social pressure makes moral policing of male youth half-hearted attempt at best.
When we watch a particular behavior while growing up we accept it as ‘normal’ or ‘okay’. So it becomes ‘okay’ for a man to bully a woman and it becomes ‘normal’ for a woman to think that every time she steps out of the house she invites molestation. It’s unfortunate that fears of such molestation in public places should be part of normal development of most young girls in our country. It’s wrong that being victim of such harassment is everyday expectation in the lives of our women
Law and order
Or rather the lack of it ensures that such crimes against women go unpunished or under-punished. Police coming from the same society is not too eager to take eve-teasing, molestation or even rape seriously. Men know they can indulge in such heinous activities because they are able to get away with it. Moreover when in mob there is security of anonymity or sheer numbers. You can’t punish everyone!
In addition there is lot of porn easily accessible to children and youths without any strict monitoring and law enforcement. Such adult content degrades the image of woman and men no longer see her as full human being deserving respect. It allows them to infringe upon her personal boundaries with sense of entitlement.
So if we do not want such shameful and humiliating incidents to tarnish the image of our society, culture and country we need to look at the whole picture. We need to strike at the root of this gender abuse. We as parents need to teach our sons to respect women both by words and actions. We as parents need to teach our daughters self-respect instead of subjugation. We need to teach them the sanctity of their personal boundaries which no male has right to violate physically or emotionally. We need to teach her to fight the bully instead of cowering before him or trying to ignore his cat-calls, lecherous gaze or molesting hands. And when she rightfully fight backs the bully we should ensure that we have laws and administration to support and protect her.
Skirt : Is it really my fault?
Burqa : This happened with me also!
So instead of asking her to change her dress lets change our attitudes! Lets say STOP! NO MORE! to this GENDER TERRORISM