The past week has been filled with various leaders of all hues giving amazingly shallow solutions to the problem of rape and sexual assault in India.
Not only have these solutions been monumentally cliche-ridden and backward, but perfectly managed to capture exactly the opposite of what would actually reduce rapes in our country.
Most of these 'solutions' invoke some form of Indian culture, a thing that these people assume is the answer to every single problem.
A good example is the statement by RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat. He claimed that sexual crimes do not happen in rural India, or as he called it the 'jungle', since inhabitants of the 'jungle' follow the 'right' culture.
In the same statement, the leader claimed, "Even today, in some parts of North India, big people, politicians even, touch the feet of girls because they are considered goddesses."
I suppose what most of the women in India really want to know is where exactly this culture exists and if such places are as completely free of sexual crime as he claims, when can they shift there?
Another example is the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, which has asked for a total ban on the mixing of male and female students, among other ideas.
Because if Saudi Arabia – practicing the strictest form of gender segregation short of the Taliban - has taught us anything, it has taught us that sexual crime can be ended as long as we separate the men from the women.
(Provided of course you ignore all the rape cases that happen there every year. Those darn Saudi women! They may have no human rights, be covered from head to toe and never speak to a strange man in their life, but they still find a way to 'seduce' and 'provoke' a man into raping them. )
If Saudi Arabia, with its beheadings, hand chopping, stoning and extreme separation of men and women cannot stop rapes, I wonder how stunting the social growth of students by making each gender completely alien to the other is supposed to help.
These are just two examples from two ends of the spectrum. The range is quite broad. Most of them have the same theme in common –
The man is an uncontrollable raping beast who will rape anything at the slightest and mildest provocation and therefore women must make sure they never provide this provocation by taking themselves completely out of society and the modern world – for their own safety of course.
These solutions, with all their talk of women being in their 'limits', assume that with slightest provocation - you, me, our fathers, our brothers, our friends and in fact every man that we know, will immediately leap onto the nearest woman we see and rape her.
Even if I accept the wholesale tarring of my character, I feel I still must point out a simple fact -
Rapes happen in every corner of the world, to every people. It happens in extremist Saudi Arabia and extremely liberal Netherlands. It happens to three-year-olds and 80-year-olds. It is done by and happens to Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Atheists, Buddhists, Jains, Brahmins, Dalits, rich, poor, middle-class, North Indian, South Indian, North-East Indian, West Indian, Tribals, Anglo-Indians and NRIs.
It happens during the day and the night. It happens to those in mini skirts and jeans. It happens to those in sarees, salwar kameez and burkhas.
And in smaller percentages, it also happens to men and transgender people.
It can never be removed from society. However it can be reduced in number and prosecution of the perpetrators can be done more swiftly and in greater percentage.
This has never happened because one half of the population is essentially imprisoned.
This only happens when society as a whole changes the manner in which it sees women, sexual assault and rape.
However, since so many of our so-called leaders are apparently unable to see any solution that does not victimize one gender while stigmatizing and restricting millions of innocent people, I feel we should at least adopt a solution that will actually work.
Here it is -
In certain villages near my ancestral home, cattle that are feisty - who tend to run a lot or jump fences - are tamed thanks to a simple device.
The farmers do not tell the trees to be 'within limits' nor do they tell the fences to behave 'appropriately'.
Instead they tie a length of rope to the cattle's neck and a heavy log at the other end.
This pretty much ensures that the cattle can neither run very fast nor can it jump anything.
Here is my suggestion - wherever men and women must interact, we tie a heavy piece - maybe of wood or iron - to the man's leg with a length of chain. The piece can only be removed when he is no longer in the presence of a woman.
Most rapes happen because one or more physically stronger men overcome a physically weaker woman. With this 'leg-piece', not only can the innocent girl run away faster but she also gains an advantage in defending herself.
Now I realize this suggestion is silly and has no basis in reality. It penalizes the majority of men who are law-abiding and not rapists for the sake of a small minority for are. It hinders free movement and comfort, and is complete gender-discriminatory.
Let's face it - this idea is utterly ridiculous.
But such considerations have not stopped our eminent leaders, so I see no reason why my suggestion should not be seriously considered.
And I assure you; it will cause rape percentages to come down by 99%.
(I realize this idea will not protect men or transgender people, but I can give only one such solution at a time.)
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