Posts Tagged ‘rape’

Smita Sharma is a woman with a mission. This young lady has been traveling to remote villages of India to photograph victims of rape and bring their stories to the world.

A rape victim caught on Smitha's frame

One of the rape survivors photographed by Smita Sharma

So far, she has photographed 27 women belonging to different states of India and the photos were showcased at an exhibition held at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi recently.

While the exhibition based on her project got rave reviews, and huge response from international media as well, it made Smita’s resolve to launch her awareness campaign even stronger.

She says: “Whenever I go to meet any victim, the last thing I ask is how it happened. I meet them as a friend. They are so horribly ostracized and shunned that sometimes I am the only one they have probably talked to in ages and shared a hug with. In my interactions with the rape survivors, I have realized there is a trend.

“Among the 27 women I photographed, 25 have been raped by people they knew. The rape was meticulously planned because the rapist kept track of the victim’s movements. In some cases, the perpetrators were arrested. In some others, they were not. In many cases, they were arrested but they are out on bail now.

“But in all cases, the onus of blame and shame has been on the woman. I met the family of a deceased 80-year-old lady, who had been raped by a 17-year-old boy and people laughed at her because they felt she was responsible for her rape.”

For the rest of the article go to Asia Times

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Behind this lovely smile is hidden a struggle that Suzette Jordan has to live every day. Pix: Diganta Gogoi

Behind this lovely smile is hidden a struggle that Suzette Jordan has to live every day. Pix: Diganta Gogoi

When I started writing this post I had meant to write something else, but so much happened in the last few days that I ended up writing something else altogether, changing my mind constantly as I got hooked to the news, analysis and – a letter.

I feel rape has probably become just another morbid story like so many other stories told in India every day. It is something like this: Rape happens, then media goes into a frenzy, helplines, SMS lines, come up, we cry hoarse then we go back to live our own lives, until another rapist strikes.

Women in India live with their instincts. Period! They live on luck too. When luck runs out God help us. (No one else probably will).

I have dozed off in my office car often while returning home after midnight. I just trusted my instincts and the smile of the driver who greeted me every evening.

Are my instincts good? Maybe. My luck? Must be. I have landed in situations too. Many times. But wriggled out using my brain, brawn, threats, other people’s help, mobile calls – and luck of course.

Check: You are lucky if you have not been sexually harassed in Kolkata

So the Uber cab controversy (whether they continue to do business or not in Delhi, about background checks of its employees, about repeated sex offenders being let off on bail) does not seem to bother me because I know one Uber gone will make way for another Unter (German antonym for uber and rightly means “under” and this is a figment of my imagination) and Indian women will be left fending for themselves, as usual. There will be luxury, yes. Safety? Doubtful.

Uber Cab. Picture taken from the net.

Uber Cab. Picture taken from the net.

The media would ride on the controversy wave to do stories but they won’t even know when palms would be greased, permits would be made and the Unter would make inroads into Delhi roads.

In the midst of it all this who is left out in the lurch? The victim, of course. The unlucky one, who was just at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong person and whose instincts just failed her for a moment and finished her forever.

I have been interacting with Suzette Jordan, the Park Street rape survivor. Although she has shown immense courage but it has been a lone fight for her from day one. No one has offered her a job despite her work experience. No one cares how she is surviving with her two teenage daughters or how she is dealing with the trauma of facing her perpetrators in court every day – for more than two years.

Media does not continue to report on the nitty gritty of Suzette’s life because I am sure it is already too mundane to be reported. They took notice when she was not allowed to enter Ginger, a restaurant on Hazra Road in Kolkata. Everyone went into a tizzy, supporting her on social media and some well-known names in journalism, all the way from Delhi, even went on to say that the license of the restaurant should be cancelled,

Does anyone know what happened after that? It’s business as usual at Ginger I suppose.

I read Shenaz Treasurywala’s letter.

I could identify with her letter and I am sure every Indian woman (and sensitive man) could.

If Shenaz writes now about the fear of rape that Indian women feel I had written about it in 2006 in an article in Times of India when rape hadn’t made it to the hot seat of headlines in India yet.

I can see we think similarly and I appreciate she has taken a stand.

But there are people who are saying it’s a PR stunt before the release of her film.

Could be? But would you go and watch some insipid film titled Main or Mr Riight spending Rs 300 from your pocket just because Shenaz here wrote this letter? I wouldn’t. I am sure you wouldn’t either.

And somehow I can’t find the connection how this could help sell her movie unless it’s based on sexual harassment of women.

It is not. And while Shenaz’s letter is still notching up hits on the net the film has already been written off by critics after the first show.

She addressed it to powerful men. Why not? These men have the power to bring change. Don’t they? Amitabh Bachchan’s polio campaign did help eradicate the disease in India. And if the PM of a country does not have the power to bring change who has then?

veeranganas

Veeranganas are an all-women commando team keeping the streets safe in Guwahati. (Picture taken from India Today)

Talking about change. Have you heard of the Veeranganas? It’s an all-woman commando platoon guarding the streets of Guwahati and making it safer for women. Veeranganas have been created as a joint effort by Assam Police and Assam Government after a girl was molested on the streets of Guwahati.

Veeranganas have, for the first time, made me feel that a police force and government are serious about women’s safety. Otherwise if you are asking a woman to SMS before she steps into a cab and then you say you will track her on GPRS I am not sure how serious you are. Would GPRS tell you that four men got up in the cab in between and raped her while it was moving? I would like to know. And would you be able to reach on time to save her? Or would GPRS help you track the rapist after the crime has been done?

When a solution is thrown at us in the name of helpline, SMS et al don’t we need to ask how will it make us safe?

How many of you have used a helpline in times of need? Can you tell me? If you have and help has come your way please let me know. I would like to share your experience here.

Till then I will always side with the Veeranganas  more than the SMS, apps and helplines. The latter create fear for women the former create fear for men.

For me this is being proactive about the issue and not being blasé. And that is what matters.

Tomorrow I will publish an interview of Photojournalist Anindya Chattopadhyay, who talks about meeting victims of acid attack and the impact they had on him.

 

 

 

A very interesting take on Tehelka.Check it out

The Greatbong Blog & Podcast

Being a very filmy person (but you already knew that I suppose), my ideal of a reporter was the character played by Sekhar Suman in “Tridev” whose murder, while doing investigative journalism piece on the dangerous Bhujang, let loose a sequence of spectacular events, that included but was not limited to Sunny Deol looking at the camera and saying, in a deadpan voice, “Ek aur sipahi desh ke liye shaheed ho gaye”.

In real life, the only people who came close to that khadi-clad, jhola-carrying ideal were the guys at Tehelka. Or that’s the way I saw things when they did the match-fixing sting, blowing the lid off the conspiracy of silence in a most spectacular way. And if that was not enough, then went up against the might of the NDA government and in the process was almost finished off by them.

This was brave stuff. They wrote their pieces…

View original post 1,267 more words

Confessions of a woman journalist from India

Confessions of a woman journalist from India

…My protection will be my responsibility, almost always. Editors, HR Heads who conducted my interviews said: “If you have to get into reporting, these are a few things you have to keep in mind:

  • You will have to keep long hours and you don’t know when you will go home.
  • You will cease to have a social life.
  • Don’t blame your job if you break up with your boyfriend.
  • If you think journalism is only about glamour, please don’t join.”

There was one thing that no one ever said though:

  • You will have to throw caution to the wind and get the job done if that means jeopardizing your own safety. And if you are not careful, you don’t know what you will land up in.

That is something that I learned on the job.

Baptism by fire

On the first day of my first job, my boss told me she had news that a very famous Indian singer was staying in a five-star hotel in Kolkata and if I could give him a call and find out if he would give us an interview. I was nervous because I hadn’t spoken to a celebrity before but the singer was sweet enough to agree to the interview.

Then I said: “I will come at 6pm for the interview. Should I come up to your room?” He said, “Okay. Please do.” I hung up satisfied that my first effort at getting an interview was going well.

But my boss was in peals. “Amrita, you should have never asked him if you could go to his room. He could take it as a cue for something else…you know….something more than just the interview…you get it, right?”

I wasn’t convinced I had done a faux pas. I argued back, “But I am a journalist asking for his interview, why would he think of ‘something else?’” My boss looked at me kindly… “It’s your first day at the job. In six months you will know what I mean.”

Now I began to get scared. So I coaxed and cajoled my boss to come along with me to the interview and she was sweet enough to relent. I called the singer from the hotel house phone and he asked me to join him in his room. After opening the door, when he saw my boss and the photographer, he couldn’t hide his surprise. He blurted, “I thought you were coming alone.”

His room was in a mess with his clothes strewn all around along with his under garments – definitely not the kind of room in which you wait for a journalist about to do an interview for a newspaper. He shoved the clothes underneath the comforter and got down to doing the interview, got friendly with all of us and impressed us with his knowledge of music.

But on my first day at a newspaper job he did give me a valuable lesson – to say it right, because men out there always look for cues. One wrong sentence and you never know what you are going to land yourself in.

And in the next six months, as my boss said, I learned a lot more. That’s why when a famous Bengali singer started giving me an interview only in his pyjamas, flashing his fleshy chest at me, I could tell him politely it would be nice if he could put on a piece of clothing while we spoke. He obliged.

That’s why when a 55-year-old Bengali writer asked me how I would feel if I was asked to kiss him, I could tell him I would be feeling like I am kissing my father and when one of the top stars of Bollywood wouldn’t stop smoking on my face I could tell him I would prefer to conduct the interview from the other end of the room and ended up doing just that.

In the film 15 park Avenue Konkona Sen Sharma plays the role of a journalist, who is raped when she go to a small town to cover the political situation there.

In the film 15 park Avenue Konkona Sen Sharma plays the role of a journalist, who is raped when she goes to a small town to cover the political situation there. Here also she went alone because she had to prove a point to her boss and to her boyfriend.

It’s always about getting the story

Journalism is a profession where you are constantly interacting with people from all walks of life and what often gets to me is the lack of respect at times women face because of this job. And back in the office, what only matters is whether you have got the story or not. If you say you didn’t because you were concerned about your personal safety chances are you would be treated as a lesser mortal. And that’s when it starts happening. Women start putting their own safety in the backburner in the pursuit of a story, to prove a point, to prove they are equally good or even better than their male counterparts.

When I read the account of the Mumbai rape victim in DNA http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/1880414/report-dna-exclusive-account-of-the-hellish-evening-when-mumbai-gang-rape-happened my first thought was what was she thinking? These men were clearly leading her on. Then I realized she is only 23, maybe just out of college, raring to go, raring to prove a point with her camera. Nothing else probably registered, nothing else mattered.

I think journalists are often conditioned like army men. Follow the orders and get the story. And if you don’t, be prepared to be court martialed in the editor’s room. On top of that if a competing publication gets the story and you couldn’t, God help you.

My safety comes first

I remember once my boss asked me to go to a Kolkata disco to interview a starlet as late as midnight. When I asked for the office car he told me, “Just hail a cab.”

I said, “It might be 2am before I finish the interview. I can’t go home so late on my own.” He retorted, “Just get the story.”

I could not imagine hailing a cab at 2am from Camac Street. I decided not to go to the assignment. Next day all hell broke loose. The allegations against me were insubordination and lack of commitment. In two seconds all my exclusives, all my late night desk work and my supposed “positive attitude” was forgotten. I didn’t care though. I was safe and that was what mattered.

A few months down the line I was sent for another assignment by the same boss, to cover a clothing exhibition at a five star hotel at a decent time – 7pm. By then, I was almost two years into the profession, had developed sharper instincts and an even sharper tongue. The first thing that struck me was that the exhibition was at a suite and not at the banquet, as it usually happens. I went to the suite and rang the bell. A gentleman opened the door and invited me in. I was about to step in, but I noticed there were at least 10 men seated there, drinking, talking boisterously and looking at me lustfully. I could not spot any woman around. When I enquired about the clothes the man at the door said it was in the bedroom. My inner voice told me not to step in. I did not. I handed the man my visiting card and told him to send me the photographs of the clothes and a write-up. The man looked very disappointed and some of the men had by then got up and joined him in his appeals to me. I left.

Next day I described the scenario to my boss and asked him what was I supposed to do? This time he agreed with my decision and didn’t haul me up for not doing an assignment. Needless to say the photographs and write-up were never delivered to me as promised by the man at the door.

Trust your instincts and get out

When I look back and think of my experiences I sometimes wonder would it have been better to be in another profession? My inner voice always says a firm NO. True. Sometimes there has been disrespect, but more often than not it has been compensated by ample respect. There have been negative experiences but also enriching experiences and most importantly experiences that have made me a stronger person, moulded me into someone who can’t be pushed around or taken for granted.

But after the Mumbai incident one thing I have realized is that women joining journalism should know personal safety is always bigger than the story. And in this profession it is but obvious you will be on a sticky wicket every other day. If your instinct says something is amiss just follow it.

Headlines come and go but your life doesn’t.

And going by the court verdict today where the juvenile involved in the Delhi rape case (the one who mutilated Nirbhaya with an iron rod) has been given three years in a juvenile home, women journalists will have to work harder towards protecting themselves now because the law is surely not coming to their rescue anytime soon.

rape 45_2

Dr Partha Gangopadhyay is a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist based in Scotland. The psychiatrist, who got his undergraduate medical degree from NRS Medical College, Kolkata, is passionate about women’s issues. While discussing the recent rise in violence against women in India, Dr Gangopadhyay very patiently answered all the questions that I had. In this post I am sharing my interview with him, where Dr Gangopadhyay not only talks about the current situation in India and the way forward but also shares very interesting information with us. Here goes:

Q: What is the psychology of rape?

A: There is nothing which can be branded as typical of a rapist and no particular traits that can help us isolate rapists. Rape is the most extreme form of sexual violence. We all have inherent capacities to be violent but various inhibitions such as social norms, education, environment, religion and cultural attributes modify the primal instincts. However, in certain circumstances we all are capable of presenting with violence, which can be most often manifested in the context of domestic violence.

Offenders who have engaged in some kind of sexual offence are more likely to commit rape

What can be stated with certainty is that offenders who have engaged in some kind of sexual offence such as exhibitionism or indecent assaults are more likely to engage in the commission of rape. Moreover, research indicates that the presence of disinhibiting factors (In psychology disinhibition is a lack of restraint manifested in several ways, including disregard for social conventions and poor risk assessment) such as alcohol, illicit drugs and anger have been noted to be associated with extreme acts of violence such as rape.

People with no criminal history commit marital rape

However, in my view, it is quite possible for somebody with no criminal history, in absence of disinhibiting factors to engage in such heinous behaviour which is probably most pronounced in the context of “marital rape”.

Q: Apart from incarceration can psychological counselling be used as a means to reform rapists?

A: Custodial sentences only act as a form of punishment and are a punitive measure. They are not effective in changing the behaviour of offenders including sexual offenders.

In the UK there are psychological programmes for rapists in prisons

In the UK, an individual who has been convicted of serious sexual offences, including rape, would need to compulsorily participate in psychological programs in prison which are delivered by Forensic Psychologists within the Criminal Justice Services. These programs would often address issues such as victim empathy, anger management, impact of misusing illicit drugs and alcohol and would be delivered through various means such as role-plays, group discussions and individual therapy.

Anti-libidinal medications are also used for therapy

Recently, there has also been an interest in the use of anti-libidinal medications i.e. medications which reduce sex-drive, in the management of sexual offenders.

Dr Partha Gangopadhyay is a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist based in Scotland

Dr Partha Gangopadhyay is a Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist based in Scotland

Q: Why do you think there is a rise in violent crimes against women in India?

A: There can be several reasons for this:

We are getting to know because of greater media coverage

Firstly I should comment that what we are seeing as a rise might be due to more effective media coverage and greater awareness of the general public, particularly women, regarding the absolute non-acceptance of such criminal behaviour.

Sexual violence is not the norm anymore

Women are more convinced now as individuals that any kind of violence against them which includes sexual violence is “not the norm” and this then leads to a greater chance for women who have experienced violence to be open about it and report it to the criminal justice system.

The skewed sex ratio in India is also to blame

The second reason probably is the high male to female Sex ratio in India. Sex ratio is expressed as the number of women per thousand men in a given population at a given time. The high sex ratio in India can be attributed to sex-selective abortion and infanticide due to a strong preference for male heirs. This affects future marriage patterns and fertility patterns and causes unrest among young adult males who are unable to find partners. Except Kerala and Puducherry all other states and union territories in India have a negative sex ratio i.e. less than 1000 women for every 1000 men, with Haryana faring the worst among states (877 women per 1000 men in 2011) and Delhi near the bottom for Union territories (866 women per 1000 men in 2011). This might explain to some extent the high incidence of sexually violent crimes in these areas.

Q: What steps can be taken in India to handle the current situation?  

A: Firstly there has to be an absolute political will to tackle this which has to go beyond narrow party interests. Secondly, I believe that there is enough legislation in India to protect women and prosecute offenders. What is lacking is effective enforcement of these legislations due to various factors such as shortage of resources, corruption and political (and various other) interferences on the public protection and prosecution systems (Police & Courts). This has to change.

India should stop projecting women as commodity

I also consider that mass entertainment media such as advertisements and films have been sometimes guilty of projecting women as a commodity whose only goal in life is to appear beautiful and obediently serve the men folk whether as a daughter, sister or wife. Such projections only nourish a derogatory view towards women which can be manifested in thoughts such as it is permissible to use force including sexual violence towards women.

The notion that women attract the attention of rapists by their behaviour and clothing should be attacked aggressively 

Finally, though unfortunate, it is still widely considered in India that a woman who is dressed seductively is more likely to be sexually violated because she is almost inviting it. This notion has to be attacked aggressively through various perspectives such as education, media, politics and it has to be spelt out clearly that whatever way a woman chooses to behave or dress, it does not give any individual any right to violate her privacy.

Q: There is violence against women in UK and there is violence in India too but in what way are these two places different?

A: There are a few separate issues that we need to consider. Firstly, UK and India belong to two different socio-economic categories. With respect to violence against women, the important relevant differences would be in literacy levels and a more effective, well-resourced public protection system (Police & Courts) who are relatively free from political influence.

In UK there is greater social acceptance of a victim

Secondly, there is greater social acceptance of a victim who has been subject to sexual violence. This then facilitates the reporting of such incidents. There is also an understanding that a woman is free to choose what she wears but that does not give any man a right to behave in an inappropriate manner.

Convictions for rape are not easy to achieve in UK either

However, convictions for rape are not easy to achieve in UK either and often prosecution is abandoned owing to lack of evidence in spite of access to better Forensic facilities.

Support and rehabilitation of victims is necessary

Finally, there are a lot of agencies (Government and NGO’s) who provide support and rehabilitation for victims of sexual offences and their families in the UK, which might be a development need for India.

(Dr Partha Gangopadhyay trained in Psychiatry in London and then undertook further training in Forensic Psychiatry in Scotland for four years. His work involves looking after people who have a mental disorder but who have also committed a crime i.e. mentally disordered offenders (MDO). His research interests lie in Medical Education, specifically assessment for undergraduate medical students. His other interest is Medical Ethics & Law in which he is pursuing a Masters.)

Bengali actor Bobby Chakraborty

Bengali actor Bobby Chakraborty

Actor Bobby Chakraborty is not someone who would say anything just for effects. If he says something, he believes in it and if he believes in it he practises it. That is why his brainchild, the project titled I Am The King of My Mind, has gained so much momentum among school students in Kolkata, India. The project aims at telling young people the consequences of addiction and how one doesn’t need to drink or smoke to enjoy life.

For more: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-05-30/kolkata/39627920_1_addiction-exxon-mobil-actor-bobby-chakraborty

When Bobby is not shooting at the studio chances are you will catch him at some school, somewhere in West Bengal, interacting with young people. His pet project regularly takes him to the most well-known educational institutions of Kolkata, like the Heritage School and La Martinere School, and also to the numerous schools located in the interiors of rural Bengal and the Sundarbans.

Check Bobby’s Facebbok Page:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/313095188790160/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g6QylXwSkg&sns=fb

Bobby with children at a school

Bobby with children at a school

Bobby posing with local kids at Sunderban

Bobby posing with local kids at Sunderban

There is one more thing that Bobby believes in too – that is equal opportunities and respect for women.

“When I interact with students I also talk to them about gender equality and respect for the fairer sex. In today’s society where there is so much violence against women this is particularly relevant,” says Bobby.

When I asked Bobby to write his views for my blog the actor took out time from him busy schedule and sent his views to my inbox within a day.

This is what he wrote:

I have always believed in peaceful co-existence of man and woman. That is how nature has made us. But some men, with their so-called physical superiority, have always been trying to foolishly prove themselves superior to women. Physical violence and rape has been the tool for such men for centuries.

Patriarchy is to blame

A woman is probably the hardest worker in the family, but her job is thankless. Most often children do not learn to value the work that women do and they are taught that men, often the bread winners, are all important. So the male child does not learn to respect the women in his family. And he carries this attitude forward to his future interactions with women – as friends, girlfriends, wives and eventually prey.

Men feel insecure around competent women

Educated and competent women are claiming the same recognition as men and more often than not giving them stiff competition at work. This is creating a sense of insecurity and the false male ego is bruised. That’s when men are resorting to violence against women to prove they are the ones in power. This trend is most dangerous.

Alcohol is often the reason for such crimes

It is said alcohol often brings out the Devil in you. And that is so true. People often end up doing things under the spell of alcohol that they would not otherwise do in a normal state. Rapists are usually dead drunk.

I hope and wish my crusade against alcohol will help in making future generations more sensible and sensitised about women.

Bobby at a candlelight vigil in Kolkata in June, protesting violence against women

Bobby at a candlelight vigil in Kolkata in June, protesting violence against women

But right now as responsible men it is within our capacity to make an immediate impact and make the environment safer for women. With the following examples I say what can be done:

1.           You are not a Superman but you can call for help

If you see a woman is harassed by some men and if you feel getting into the situation might be dangerous for you, call for help.

I will give you an example of what I did once. It was around 8.30pm and I was taking a walk on Marine Drive in Mumbai and enjoying the drizzle when I saw a gang of around eight-10 guys harassing a girl. I knew if I tried to intervene they would overpower me. So I ran in the opposite direction and alerted the traffic police on duty who in turn alerted the mobile van. Within no time the van came and rescued the girl.

2.           Put your foot down if you see a man trying to get fresh with a woman, be it on public transport or at a party

Women are most often strong enough to deal with these situations but it is our duty to let them know we are always there to lend them a helping hand.

I have seen drunk men often make advances at women at parties. A civilized talk with the drunkard might help but if that does not work then security should be called in. There have been instances when I have been threatened with dire consequences after they have been thrown out of the party. But men who use alcohol as a license to misbehave are usually cowards. So you can be sure that threat will always be empty.

3.           Stand up for your co-workers

In the workplace too there have been situations when I found out that a co-actor was being sexually harassed by someone. The first thing I did was to draw the producer or the director’s attention. If that does not work it can always be taken up with, in my case Artists’ Forum, in other cases the supreme authority at the workplace.

4.           Always remember REAL men respect women

If you are a real man then you will learn to respect every woman in your life – from your mother to the woman you are travelling with in a public bus to the maid, who is working in your house. This way you will learn to respect yourself. When you have self respect you have everything.

(Bobby has recently starred in National Award winning filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s hindi film Station which is part of the series Thrayadashi.)

equality2

Can men be feminists? My answer is yes, absolutely! And in the last one year that I have been blogging on women’s issues I have heard myriad men’s voices and views that have enriched my own thoughts and perceptions. That is why I decided to run a series where men would give an insight into gender equality and violence against women. Like charity begins at home I believe feminism begins at home too. And for me it truly begins at home because of all the fierce feminist men I have met in my life, I guess I have been living with the fiercest one so far, since I tied the knot with him 12 years back.

I start off this series with my husband Jaydip Sengupta’s views that he’s penned down himself. Here goes…

It’s a given men and women are equal

I have often wondered if being a feminist makes me any less of a man. I have looked up the definition of the word feminism and it roughly means a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.

I have never felt the need to be part of any such movement, or to appreciate the burning of bras. Instead I have tried to figure out why it needs to be established that women are equal to men. I mean, shouldn’t that be a given, something that need not be reiterated time and again? Yeah sure, men are better at certain things but then women are better at most other things.

 Now, that’s a fact men have been unable to accept. History or for that matter mythology hasn’t been kind to our women folk and it hasn’t helped that they were written by us men folk. Women were worshipped, but in reality all they got to do was service to ‘mankind’. So now, when they work as many hours as their male counterparts and for extra measure cook, keep the house in order, bring up the children and do everything else necessary to keep the family going, they are still expected to continue that service. Why, may I ask?

There should be a code of conduct for men

It all seems hypocritical to me but I am not surprised. When I see and hear wise men in our country preach about how women should behave instead of how men should not, it somehow tells me that we have only been paying lip service to gender equality all these years. The instances of molestation and rape have come out of homes and into the streets, but really, are only the men to blame here?

equality

Women should alter their own beliefs

For generations, women have been conditioned to play the weaker sex. Most seem to revel in their subservient role, especially at home and it’s a state of being they have found difficult to shrug off elsewhere as well. Maybe it is part of their defence mechanism. Do you really have to be physically stronger to stand your ground and retaliate when needed?

I know that’s easy for me to say as a man, but how many times have I seen this role-play. Who convinced them that they can only be feminine if they are soft-spoken, gentle and hence ladylike, whatever that means.

I still remember an incident during my college days. I used to travel by local train and one day as I was making my way to the platform, I saw the sister of a school senior being followed by a group of boys, who, I could make out from the distance, were saying something to her.

Even before I had the chance to hurry up and see what was going on, I heard her voice boom around the platform, “Don’t you guys have mothers or sisters at home? Is this how you behave with them as well?” Of course, they scurried away pretty intimidated. The girl in question didn’t lose an iota of femininity by making herself heard.

I applaud the girl at Howrah station

That was 20 years back. The situation has definitely worsened for women since then. The incident that happened at Howrah station recently didn’t shock me in the least.

Check here: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-24/mumbai/40771008_1_howrah-station-tv-anchor-subrata

What, however, gives me hope is the way the girl hit back.  To me women’s empowerment is not about having separate seats in metros, buses and trains; it’s about behaving like an equal and when needed putting men in their place. And that again is something I am sure they can do as well as anything they put their minds into.

–         Jaydip Sengupta is a sports journalist, husband and father