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Things going on in my mind

It was on the television at the airport waiting lounge when I first heard the news on the horrific and chilling gang-rape of the 23-year old in Delhi. This however did not shock me as I am sure many others felt the same – one more number on the statistics of rising cases. During the same time, I was following through facebook page of a friend the case in Nepal, although much muted in the media in comparison to the neighbouring capital, about a migrant worker looted and raped by the immigration official.

By the time I had time I had finished my long journey – there had been lot of development in both countries. In Nepal, the immigration officers were “suspended”. In India the cry for the death penalty for the perpetrators were at its height. I read lots of opinions on the demand for death penalty both for and against. I am not a legal person nor a great thinkers like some of those that wrote those articles. I just feel, we are forgetting the victim here – the woman and by virtue of that the whole womankind. Our anger, our law our demands are more perpetrators centered. Do not get me wrong – the perpetrators should be punished in the harshest way possible. But lets also think about us. What has been our contribution in making our world safe for us? Yes, we are protesting and demanding with all our might for the change of laws and constitutions that ensures our rights. During the long flight I watched a couple of movies that got me thinking about what kind of society are we projecting and promoting? While we continue actively by protesting against the violence and discrimination against women, are we unconsciously or consciously promoting it through our nurturing and accepting promoting the century old concept of “good women” and being part of perpetuating the crimes against us?

Look into the families we have been raised in and we are raising. What kind of bed time stories are we telling our children? The stories of the princess in distress and the prince coming to the rescue stories I agree are fancy and romantic. However the elements that objectify women, renders them into a beautiful piece of art needs to be revised. The stories we tell our children colours their imagination, they define their self identity around the role models. Are we ensuring that our children are getting the right role models? Our sons while they know they have to be brave, be able to protect are they also being aware about the difference between protection and prohibition? Do they understand that “princess” are not just beautiful damsel in distress that are waiting for the prince to liberate them but are a person of their own mind? Our daughters, are they confident that they are princess in true sense with every bit of courage, their own mind and ability to exercise their place in the midst of the human race?

Look into the movies and soap operas that we are enjoying. Bollywood movies are phenomenal and the soap operas are the daily doses of households even in Nepal. What are we watching? We are still hooked in the screens where women with salwar kameez, one who doesn’t drink/party and bows down to the wishes of man and in-laws are the perfect women. They may be desirable, but far from perfect – no one is. We are still watching movies with leading actors where the macho-ism of the guy is reveled, his sleeping around and drinking and partying is just part of his character but the girl of the same character somehow does not have one. She has to loose out for the salwar-kameez cladding, loved by all damsel in distress. The rhetoric I hear for these story lines are they are the reflection of our society. And by the way, because she is not dresses properly, goes to the bar, drinks with the boys and sways her hips to the music she loves, she is expecting to be molested, touched and being raped. It is time for the restructuring of the whole scene of the popular entertainment industry to send out the right messages – to say what is wrong is wrong and not just play around to the “popular demand” or cheap entertainment and owe up to their social responsibility.

And we need to discuss rape more than we are making a noise about it. The reality of rape, not just in the violent and grotesque way, but in everyday life committed by normal men in the normal life of normal women has to acknowledged. Rape is an unwanted penetration – whether its violent and physically harmful or not. When a husband forces a wife it is a rape, when a date takes advantage it’s a rape, to deceive and trick into having sex is rape. These actions should not be glorified as macho as sometimes they are by popular entertainment. Our sons and daughters should be aware of this from their early lives. Men that respect women will not gloat over their body parts, will not find the way they dress up inviting and will not be threatened by their equal partnership in any walk of life. Are we raising our children to believe in these values or are we those women that are participating and protesting for change in laws, demanding equal rights and then go back home early to make sure that hot food is ready for our husbands and that a bigger portion of chicken is on our son’s plate?

Gender-based Violence
South and Central Asia
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