The point that many of us miss is that such people only represent a surface of a much larger issue which looms, or should I say engrained deep into our societal fabric which we all happen to subconsciously endorse. That such people share mindsets like us.
Take for instance our colloquial language, the act of rape is manyatimes referred to as 'izzat lootna' (In English this translates to losing ones honor). The victim did not commit any crime; she did not venture forcedly into someone else's personal space. How, then, could she be desecrated because some feral man decided to impose himself on her? What does this mean? We should probably change our Hindi? No! This is an indication to what our innate attitude is like, that somewhere deep down under there exists a problem. And a big one at that.
The interview of the Nirbhaya case's victim is in the news these days. What the interview pictured was not surprising, no-one expected the rapist to spit out adulation for women. But it was chilling and painful to watch.
What the interview showcased was not merely the ramblings of a man convicted in a rape case. This was a mirror showcasing the beliefs of thousands of people in our society who share a similar ideology. What do you think of the literate defence lawyer who brazenly says that he would burn off his daughter if he finds her going out. Is there any difference between him and his client?
Mukesh represents just the surface of a balloon; the air in the balloon which gives shape and foundation to the surface is actually attributed to the mindset of the society. It is this mindset which subliminally sanctions such acts that even today Mukesh believes that he did no wrong by committing a seemingly disciplinarian action on a wayward girl. The balloon can only exist as long as the air in it does.
- Understand the attitude: We need to understand that we have all the makings of a rapist if we believe in any of the above points. Awareness is the key and it is for this reason that documentaries like Indias Daughter should be shown so that people know how much of their own ideology matches to that of a rapist. You just cannot brush things away under the carpet in the hope that your home gets cleaned. Acknowledging that a mindset like that exists and is very much prevalent in the society is the first step.
- Understand the psychology behind this:
We need to understand how do people learn such ideas? Thats when we can
do something about it. Right from childhood to adolescence there could
be several factors that could affect someone's mind:
- the neighbourhood man battering his wife everyday and the woman silently bottling her emotions, parents being more obsessed to the son than his sister, the incessant objectification of women in movies and TV shows, the list is endless, sigh. Even little observations taken during the course of a long time can condition a child's brain and plant the thought that women are objects to be used and meant to be kept under your toes.
- Address the mindset:
Just like the factors above which interplay in our society cater to the
somewhat misogynistic thoughts in a growing mind; it is definitely not
impossible to condition the mind in an opposite way. Note that this
conditioning is much harder to bring about in adults compared to the
growing minds of youngsters and kids. So we know we need our kids to be
more tolerant and understand the meaning of equality. But who is going
to do teach them this? An erudite family may do this to its younger
generation but what about a kid who is born into that section of the
society where women are looked upon in a lower light. His mindset is
predisposed to pick up the grime he sees around it in its formative
years. It is here that education needs to step in.
- Role of education: We
know our current education miserably fails at it today (especially
after listening to the comments by the convict's lawyer in the
Nirbhaya case), but it doesnt mean that education cant help. It is
possible to bring about a positive conditioning to a kid by exposing him
to the importance of gender equality, and sensitising about concepts
like consensual sex (Indian education system does not even talk about
the three letter word). This is a daunting task though. Because you are
trying to plant ideas which are very different from what the society
showcases. It may not have the desired results always too. But we
atleast have a way of tackling problems, albeit not foolproof. The education system is not just about reading and writing, it can become much more than that.
Children should know about women achievers from different walks of life; this is to make them realize that women are not weak and subjugated; they are as much capable and strong as a man, they just need the right avenues.