Why blame Abu Azmi? Obviously, he is not the only person in India who thinks women in skimpy clothes are aphrodisiac for the sex-starved Indian male. The list of items that can stimulate sexual desire in the men of our country is endless. From wearing lipstick to high-heeled footwear to eating chow mein to short dresses to sporting unusual hairstyles to using mobiles to moving in the company of anyone other than father or brother, anything that a woman does can excite men and inspire them to rape or molest her.
With such a ready bouquet of justifications available for a sexually perverse conduct, it is obvious women are unsafe everywhere. We have them getting sexually assaulted everywhere, from a public place in Bengaluru to crowded streets or secluded parks elsewhere. It does not surprise when people like Azmi find fault with women. He even compared women with sugar and fire and said it was natural that these items would attract ants and petrol. Not long ago a prominent political leader had brushed aside the sexual assaults on women saying "boys will be boys". After the 31 December incident, Karanataka's Home Minister G Parameshwara reportedly said "such things do happen".
The mindset is so pervasive and deeply entrenched that it's pointless wasting time slamming their remarks. We have been at it for decades. But the problem has not gone away because mindsets don't change easily. The worst part is, it has not helped the cause of women's safety. They continue to face sexual assaults, cases of which are getting more brazen by the day. How does one explain the act of perverts at a public gathering in Bengaluru in the presence of 1,500 policemen?
It is high time the point of public debate in this matter shifted from berating the mindset to practical steps to prevent such happenings. Once a victim is created, the psychological trauma she undergoes is immeasurable. The loss to her dignity and sense of self-worth is almost impossible to retrieve. Harsh punishment to a culprit in a rape case is fine, but it hardly is justice to the victim. The best way to approach the issue is to focus on the preventive aspects. But we are just too lazy to go there.
How come we never discuss the need for better policing? Four years after the 16 December gang rape of a para-medical student, which caused great uproar and moral outrage in the country, nothing much has changed in Delhi. Similar cases with varying degrees of goriness keep hitting the headlines in a depressing matter of routine. The visibility of police on the streets and elsewhere has not improved neither has the general level of safety. The situation is no better in other parts of the country. The political class which is supposed to be accountable is under no real pressure to deliver on real safety.
Every time women activists come on television blaming the anti-woman patriarchal society and the traditional male mindset for all the troubles faced by women, one gets baffled by their tendency to dwell on generalities and inability to offer solutions that would help. Can you change patriarchy? No. Does the patriarchal mindset make most Indian men potential rapists? People like Azmi may have their own bizarre understanding of the issue — most grandparents in Indian homes would have a similar view — but does that make them villains per se?
What we are dealing with here is actual criminals who need to be treated with the tough hand of the law. While they need to be made afraid of the consequences of their actions, the real accountability for their actions should be on policemen. Why not, for a change, take to task the policemen at the spot in Bengaluru who failed to perform their job? A strong public demand to this effect and a few policemen behind bars would set an example. Catching the perverts alone won't serve the purpose of women's safety.
Updated Date: Jan 03, 2017 19:17 PM