Sunday, December 30, 2012

140. Attitudes must change

The Delhi gang-rape victim is dead. The whole country is aggrieved. The girl was not only sexually assaulted, but also physically tortured in the most barbaric manner. She struggled for life for a few days and then gave up. The perpetrators of the crime have to be handed the most severe punishment. No lack of education, no perceived sense of injustice - nothing can justify a crime as heinous as the one they committed. The top-most heart surgeon of India has commented that  in his long career, he has not come across a case where the patient has been put in such a terrible condition. 

The past few days have witnessed huge protests throughout the country. Even small towns have  participated in the protests. International media has  reported the incident in a big way. Perhaps, there is no parallel in the world of such massive protests over an incident of a gang rape. Despite not being a celebrity or from affluent background, the deceased could galvanize the entire nation. This is remarkable. This indicates that people of the country, especially women, are no longer willing to ignore such incidents.

I hope, before the protests die down, there would be some concrete outcomes. Rape laws will be made stricter and such cases will be put on fast track. However, such actions alone will not be enough. There has to be better enforcement of law and even more importantly, there has to be change in attitudes.

The truth is that over centuries, women of this country have been suppressed. Their education has been ignored.T hey have been denied financial independence and kept away from any decision-making. They have not been treated with dignity and respect. Even their birth has been frowned upon. They have been perceived as weak. There has hardly been any recognition of their identity as human beings. There is no use trying to dig out stray examples from mythology and history to prove otherwise. 

It is this attitude which has made it possible for rapes to take place alongside nation-wide protests. It is this attitude which has allowed women to be groped while they were protesting against the gang rape. It is because of this attitude that when a young woman watches a movie late in the evening and boards a bus with a boy-friend, imagination of some people run wild. It is amazing that amidst the national awakening, women are advised to dress and behave properly so that men are not tempted to take liberty with them. As if women are to blame for their own rape.

There has been a clear mismatch between the progress made by women recently and the attitude of the society in general towards them. The attitudes have not changed in sync with the progress made by women.  

Our education system has to change fast to bring about rapid change in attitudes. Of course, protests like the current ones will also help change the perceptions of people and make them introspect.  But until attitudes change, women will continue to suffer. Changes in law will have only marginal impact.


Bikram said...

as the title says WE need to change sir .. Each one of us


Indrani said...

How long will it take?