“We should kill all these bastards. That will teach others not to molest women,” roared this female friend during a discussion on the Bangalore New Year’s Eve molestation.
‘Kill all molesters, kill all rapists’ is the battle cry that rings far and wide every time a new heinous case of rape, or molestation makes international headlines.
Aside from propagating vindictive violence, the main problem with this line of thought is that it presupposes that these molesters, rapists come from a separate space.
What if one of the men caught in the next high profile case turns out to be your brother, best friend, father, uncle, boss etc. Not possible, you’d claim.
A court ordered study by Delhi Police of 44 police stations, revealed that over 60% offenses of rape, molestation and sexual harassment occurred inside homes. The accused was known to the survivors.
But Delhi is the ‘rape capital’ of the nation, you’d protest. A separate report from the ‘safest city for women’ - Mumbai - calls home the most unsafe place for women.
Nationally, “cruelty by husband and relatives continue to have the highest share (38%) of crimes against women”. Do bear in mind that these figures come from a nation and a police force chronically notorious for refusing to record many crimes against women.
The truth is thus this: home with relatives and acquaintances is the most dangerous place for a woman to be. This means, there’s a good probability that the next molester, rapist is sitting in our living room rather than roaming on the Bangalore or Delhi street scouting for victims.
Thus cleansing, like charity, must begin at home. And there ARE concrete things each one of us can do every single day. Here’s just a few.
Stand up when your mother, sister is mistreated by your father, brother.
Stand up against your friend who whistles ‘maal’ at passing women saying it is innocent fun.
Make a hue and cry against the million girls murdered every year either before birth or by dunking them in milk before god later.
Report the drunkard husband who beats up your maid servant as if it is your business.
Never tell a female colleague to grin and bear the advances of her boss just because it happens everywhere. Help her to raise hell.
Don’t croon along with your favourite male stars as they call their women items, chikni chameli or halkat jawani.
Refuse to be an apologist for the institutional rapes of women during riots and anti-militant operations by either police or armed forces, be it in Kashmir, Northeast or Chhattisgarh.
Remember that one incident of custodial rape of a woman is not an aberration. It is one too many.
Protest lower pay your female colleagues receive for doing the same job as men.
Don’t let your parents forcibly arrange a marriage for your sister under the pretext that she does not know her mind.
Don’t stay silent when in a family discussion a woman’s voice is silenced by the cacophony of male voices.
Don’t force a woman to wear burqa under the pretext of upholding some Sharia law or justify their forced domesticity because someone called Manu wrote some laws hundreds of years back.
Stop calling women standing up for themselves and other women ‘bitches’ or ‘feminazi’.
Stop defending religious minded vigilantes barging into hotels and on couples hanging out, and slapping women in the name of culture. To each his own peace is the only true Indian culture.
In a gathering or party, don’t send women away to discuss 'childish' things even as you men discuss ‘grown up’ ones like politics in their absence.
Stand up against a father, brother, husband relative who sarcastically shows a female family member that she's lower than men in intelligence.
Discuss, instead of objecting violently, when your girlfriend, wife wants to put her life and career ahead of yours.
Righteous indignation at cases which become high profile is useless because we conveniently forget the hundreds, perhaps thousands of women, whose psyche we have molested directly or indirectly through our inaction and insensitivity.
Every single one of us – men, women and others: even those who unfortunately became victims later (for didn’t Jean-Paul Sartre say: anyone, at any time may equally find himself victim or executioner) – are responsible for being part of and propagating this system which in many such small ways creates the edifice of brutality against women which erupts in an volcano of violence now and then.
It is when we stop treating women as fair game to be trampled on and mistreated, when we stand up for the little wrongs that the big wrongs that bring our blood to boil can be curbed.
The biggest responsibility is that of a woman herself. You need to cultivate the courage to stand up against any wrong done to you or those you know.
It is natural to feel that people who commit violence on others, deserve violence in return. But like Mahatma Gandhi said, an eye for an eye will only make all of us blind.
What we need is not more blindness, but for us to open our own eyes and of those around us. So that we can see. So that we can change.
There is no other way.
(Satyen K Bordoloi is a writer based in Mumbai. His written words have appeared in many Indian and foreign publications.)
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