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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Respect Women! - "Charity begins at home" - Amrita Saha

"Woman"-- what is the first picture that comes up in your mind when you hear this word? To me and many like me the first image that comes up is that of my mother. To others it may conjure images of their wives/girlfriends/sisters or some other supporting female figure in their lives. The point is not about the person we remember, the point is about the attributes we associate with her-love, care and unconditional support. The female figure who makes our house home, our survival life and so on.

But in a strange turn of events, it is time and again that we see women being disrespected and harmed and humiliated in our society. That is evident when we see the atrocious statistics of rape which the UN puts at 250,000 cases of male-female rape or attempted rape in 65 countries in spite of the fact that “according to the American Medical Association (1995), sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime.” In this regard I would also like to mention one shocking statistic.

India was dubbed as the fourth most dangerous place for women in the world according to a survey conducted by Thomson Reuters' Trustlaw Women in 2011. The country was placed after Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan, as cases like female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking are still prevalent.

The first question that comes to my mind when I look at this is “what is wrong with us?” Is it just an aberration that some people turn out to be so cruel or is it something we encounter every day but fail to recognize until it takes gigantic proportions? When a gang of boys whistle at a girl passing-by, we pass it off as teens having harmless fun, but do we look at it from the point of view of the girl? We do not. But when a guy hears of the same event from his sister, he offers to accompany her from that day on. Why these double standards? Why do we fail to see the bigger picture and realize that the woman being whistled at is someone’s sister/daughter too. If we are so concerned about the safety of our near and dear ones, why do we fail to share the same concern about our fellow human beings? She might not belong to your family but she does belong to the same society and however much we choose to ignore it, the society gives you back what you give to it. You give it care and respect and you will get back the same. Ignoring the injustice done to any woman increases the chances that someone in your family will face the same injustice sometimes in future.

Then again there is a saying “Charity begins at home”. If we look at it deeply, how many of us actually take our home-maker mothers seriously? Do we ever think of her as a human who might have her own opinion too or do we just take her for granted at every step? A man when disrespects his wife in front of his son, sows the seeds of disrespect for women in the minds of his son then and there. When the girl in the family is made to give up her studies the boy learns a woman is not worth even her basic right to education. In the same way, as the boy grows up seeing women in his life being disrespected and their rights trampled upon at each and every walk of life, he grows up believing it to be way of life and deep within he learns to do the same. It is again when a father agrees to pay heavy dowry for his daughter, that the son learns that the girl means nothing but trouble and hence comes his eternal loathing for women in general. From the perspective of the boy, a woman means nothing but trouble, adds no value to the family and in fact increases the economic pressure on the family. No wonder such a boy when grows up to be a man and is married becomes someone who supports female foeticide. It is the values inculcated in him unknowingly by his family, that make him averse to a girl child.

So whenever any crime against woman happens, it is a call for all of us to look at ourselves and our families. It is a call for us to look inside and see what we might be doing wrong in our daily lives that breeds such hatred for women. The small word of disrespect that the dad utters towards the mom can teach the son to treat women as objects of humiliation. It is time we give our actions a great deal of thought. It is time we decide whether the girl or the boy should be allowed to continue his/her study based on sheer merit rather than gender.It is time we judge the actions of our kids objectively rather than put it in sketchy perspectives like “let go…he is a guy after all” or “how could she do this..she is a girl”.It is time we do that if not for us,for the future generation to come because bereft of women there will be no future generation at all.

Here is to a happier healthier society and a better tomorrow :)

Happy International Women's Day