The sorry state of security and dignity of Indian women is a recurring topic now. Women raise this theme belligerently. Men discuss it in hushed tones, rather like knowing the doom is out there in the cold, waiting to devour them if they make a politically incorrect statement.
R Jagannathan has made a bold statement on Firstpost. In fact, one of the points he has raised is something I wish to put on record
If you are a boy from one of the underprivileged sections, the mixed message problems get worse. Not only are you angry about your financial and livelihood shortcomings, but every girl coming into your view is a challenge to your manhood and lowly status.
This does not absolve alleged rapists from the higher socio-economic strata. I will take this point up later. But think of the economically under-privileged. It does get tougher if you are lower in India‘s notorious caste hierarchy.
The economy is not getting any better. The gap between haves and have-nots is increasing and becoming more drastic year by year. The sight of a construction worker having a stale vada-pav outside a Pizza Hut joint filled with people who are not even hungry is not a stereotype any more. It’s a dangerous reality. These men are bombarded by rank consumerist messages through all sorts of media – news outlets, entertainment, even the hoardings that they trudge by on their way to earn a minimum wage. At some point, their restraint will break, their instinct of self-preservation will fade and they will lash out at the most vulnerable target in Indian society – the up and coming, independent Indian woman.
Now add one more cause – India’s abysmal sex ratio and her patriarchal, misogynistic culture. I am open to be proven wrong but there is a direct proportional relation between how badly a particular region treats its women in general (and traditionally) and the number of rapes occurring there. There is a similar relation between patriarchal societies and cultures (samaj and biradari) considered misogynist and perpetrators of sexual crimes against women.
This is how perpetrators of sexual assault from a higher socio-economic class get away. It is as if their culture gives the men a right to have their way with women. If women of their “status” are not available to being treated like rank objects of depraved desire, then they turn to the lower classes.
The boys of the coming generation have to be taken care of. They have be educated about the personal dignity of a woman, about her strengths, rights and ambition. They have to be protected from the dogma of existing social and cultural traditions that deify women in a prayer room and objectify her outside it .
It will take a whole generation but hopefully, their female compatriots will not look at them with distrust and disgust.