It has been a really long time since I posted on this blog, and what brought me back here is one of the most shameful incidents I have known of in recent time. Yes, you got it right, I am indeed talking about the brutal gang rape that happened in Delhi last week. What I write, is not from the perspective of a man or a woman, but that of a human being who is pained at what he sees happening around him, and doesn’t want a repeat of it.
Now I know that there has been tons of newsprint and pages and pages of virtual print dedicated to people from all walks of life expressing their anguish, outrage and disgust over what has happened. Even as I write this, many spirited young men and women are protesting at Raisina Hills to make the government see what we have already known for quite some time – that one half of humanity in this country does NOT feel safe here anymore. Much has been said about the incident, the underlying causes, what we should/need to do when such things happen. Much has also been said about how such things should NEVER have happened in the first place. I don’t feel I have anything more to add on that count. Instead, I will be focusing on how we can do our best to prevent such things from happening, what changes do we need to bring about in ourselves, so that any woman in this country does not have to feel sorry for being born a woman.
The core point that I am driving at is that women will never be truly safe until they are considered as equals (superior actually – being a woman is a much tougher task than being a man, wherever you are) to men, and treated with the respect that comes along with such a status. Having said that, I believe that points of action always work better than platitudes. So, this is what we
should must do:
- Treat the women in our life with respect. Its okay if you don’t worship them as goddesses, just don’t make them follow the pre-conceived notions of “good behaviour” that our society has handed down to us over the generations.
- As a colleague/friend/stranger on the street, don’t judge a woman by what she chooses to wear. A woman wearing a saree is not necessarily a better person than someone who wears jeans/tops.
- As a mother, teach your kids that the daughter has as much right to enjoy a good education, luxuries in life, etc. as the son. Her aspirations are equally important and will not be sidelined in the favour of the son. If you are in a position where you cannot fulfill everyone’s dreams, the disappointment will be shared equally, it won’t happen that the son gets what he wants, while the daughter gets a sermon on “adjustment” and “sacrifice for the family”.
- As a son/daughter, understand that your mother has given up a lot, has gone though a lot, and continues to do so to see you happy. Not all of those sacrifices were justified, and though she did it for you, that doesn’t mean she “wanted” to do it. She is a human being and has her own desires – she is NOT the all-sacrificing deity that you see her as. Make sure that you acknowledge the importance of those sacrifices.
- As a husband, you have an added responsibility towards your wife. Unlike the other men in her life, who were a part of it by default, she has chosen to be with you. You are the choice she has made, the one she has trusted her life with. So make sure you understand the honour you have been bestowed with, and behave accordingly.
- Again, as a husband, treat your wife the way you would want to be treated yourself. While it might be okay to feel lazy after a long day at work, it is not ok to just come back home, put up your feet and expect a hot cuppa chai from her, when she herself has just got through a nerve-wracking day at office. Get up your ass, and go help her in the kitchen. Rest assured, it won’t make you any less of a man.
- It is quite possible that your family and your wife will have differing opinions on something,and that it will lead to clashes. Use your own judgement, and stand by what is right. If it means supporting your wife, do so by all means. If it means telling her that she is wrong, do it. Just make sure that you are speaking as a thinking human being, and not as a husband/son.
- If you have a sister, be there for her, always. Be protective of her, but don’t shackle her down with Dos and Don’ts. With you around, she should feel secure, not suffocated.
- And now, for the most important man in any girl’s life – her father. You, sir, have the biggest and most significant role to play in your little kiddo’s life – for you are the standard she will judge all men in her life against. Make sure you stand up to the biggest challenge that life has thrown at you. Treat her like the princess that she is. Understand what she wants to be, and help her do that. You are the guy she will always love the most, make sure your actions make you worthy of it.
- Give her the same privileges that you would give to your son. Being worried for her safety is understandable, but try and see to it that you are the wind underneath her wings, not the chains that tie her down.
- Most importantly, there will be a time in your life when you have to give her hand away to another man. Choose him well, and for god’s sake, don’t think that you have to reward him for doing so. If you have brought her up well, getting married to her is a privilege he is being awarded with, not some onerous task that you need to pay him for. If you give dowry, you are only telling your daughter that you are so eager to see her off that you are willing to pay for it. And that, my dear sir, is going to hit her where it hurts most.
There is a lot more that I could write, but the basic point remains just this – without women, this world would no longer be a wonderful place. So, we must do all that it takes to make them feel happy, feel safe. How we do it, is really not the question – for where there is a will, there will be many ways. On that note, adios. See you soon!