My mother got admitted to ICU suddenly this week.
I had to stay at the hospital on the first night. I was driving on the Mumbai roads at 11:30 pm with the Nirbhaya judgement in my mind, wondering if what I’m doing is safe?
Would I be able to reach the hospital safely without any issue?
Then my mind flashed back to what by all accounts happened with Nirbhaya on the night of December 21st, 2012?
A young girl went for a movie with a friend to have a nice time, which ended up in such a gruesome situation.
She doesn’t live to see this day because…
She was a girl!
She was out at night after 9 pm.
She resisted her rape? (She fought fiercely against her offenders)
She was in a city deemed by most people as the rape capital of the country. Shocking that the capital of the world’s largest democracy is known by such a demeaning and derogatory moniker.
This incident rocked our country by its core because of the sheer audacity and horrendous nature of the crime.
There were many debates about the offenders, their backgrounds, what is the right punishment for them. Discussions on the victim, her background, what was right and what went wrong, authorities, security for women and many other points.
Finally a landmark Judgement was upheld by the Supreme Court on 5th May, 2017 (more than 4 years after the incident), convicting the offenders and that they will be hanged to death.
While driving to hospital on 5th May, 2017 at 11:30 pm, I was wondering whether anything changed after that incident.
Can I drive on Mumbai’s roads without fearing that something wrong can happen to me too?
Why am I not feeling as secure as the guy driving alongside me? He is so carefree and I’am so worried?
Can any young girl go for a late night show in Delhi and be left alone 4 years after that incident?
Is it some kind of learning to all those hawks who look out for free sex, who feel forcing themselves on a woman just because she is out in the night is allowed, because he is a guy?
It’s a long journey for us to fix the mentality. It’s not something that can be done overnight.
While I was pondering what can make that radical change, I can only think of this – We need to inculcate this in how we bring up our children. As parents we play a major part. We owe this to our country. The entire thought process needs to be changed. I have tried to summarize a few thoughts which could be used to start making that change:
If you are raising boys:
a) Raise them with gentleness, teach them how to care and respect fellow humans.
b) Allow them to cry, built up frustration comes up in many other ways. Do not say “Boys don’t cry”.
c) Teach them how to handle anger. Beating up someone is not how you express anger.
d) Teach them to use right words to defend themselves first. Teach them physical defence techniques only to defend and not to attack.
e) Get them to do house work.
f) Demonstrate respect and love for each other. Kids learn when they see.
If you are raising girls:
a) Infuse self respect.
b) Make them independent and encourage them to build their careers.
c) Encourage them in every aspect, do not label anything as “boys only.”
d) Chuck the fairytales – they send wrong messages.
e) Teach them defense mechanisms – both verbally and physically.
We have a long way to go. It’s an uphill task but what we need is work at the ground level, in our homes. We need partners for this work and who else but the parents of our coming generation to work towards it.
Lets all come together and make these small changes for better and safer tomorrow.
While all above are long term issues, I would like to touch upon some quick measures that could be taken to make women feel secure;
1) A special bench for women, to clear all pending cases for crime against women. It could be a women only bench. These should be fast track cases.
2) Muncipal schools to pay attention to girl child drop outs from school. Such cases should be reported and reasons identified.
3) Higher education loans for weaker class to be under Govt. schemes. A scheme for tax payers to fund education for a child from weaker economic zone and get a tax exemption.
4) Self defence classes for all girls, as part of their academics.
5) Strict action on eve teasers with a warning of being watched.
6) A stringent methodology of implementation of “Sexual Harassment at Workplace for Women” to be followed.
Some of these measures would really help our society become a safer place for women.
So that the next time when I or you drive, the thought of my safety won’t make me feel weak.