- CHANDIGARH-A post-graduate student in a university hostel rushes into the common room in panic and starts crying she has just witnessed a man flashing himself,she did not know what to do and immediately rushed back to the hostel.When she narrates this to a few fellow hostel friends(all post-graduate or higher level students) a lot of joking and laughing happens.
- KOLKATA-A middle-aged lady who teaches in a college takes a taxi to return home,but finds the driver is not following the correct route and is not listening to any instructions or protests,when she manages to force one of the back seat doors open and threatens to jump from the running taxi he drops her at a deserted spot and runs away.
- LONDON-A young Asian woman,who is new to the city is taking a bus to her college.Its very early in the morning and the only other passenger of the bus is a young man who sees her alone,moves closer to her seat,passes a lewd comment and makes an obscene gesture.She is visibly upset and looks lost,the driver watches the scene and quietly drives the bus to the nearest police post.
These are not imaginary incidents,these are real incidents which have happened to real women,some of my friends in real cities.Don't they tell us a lot about gender sensitivity,social attitudes to sexual crimes and why RAPE still remains the ultimate threat to a woman,sometimes even worse than murder.
A list of a few of these common words is usually given in Gender sensitization workshops to participants to understand gender stereotypes:
Dependent - Independent
Weak - Powerful
Emotional - Logical
Supporters - Leaders
Fearful - Brave
Peace-makers - Aggressive
Cautious - Adventurous
Passive - Active
Gentle - Strong
In most sexual crimes like the recent gang-rape in Delhi all these stereotypes seem to play an active role in the causes of the crime.The rapists are not from other world,in fact statistics tell us that most of them are people the victims know and trust.Similarly the police personnel who are so insensitive to victims of sexual crimes are men and women from this very society.
The perpetrators of course need to be highly dehumanized and detached from he plight of the victim to assert their physical and sexual power so violently on them.Although no two sexual attacks are same and neither are the mental states of the attackers similar but RAPE for most criminals is essentially about showing the woman her place,punishing her for raising her voice,offering resistance and teaching her a lesson.
Remedial measures are required but I believe the real change has to start in homes,families,schools,bus stops,offices every where,whenever we see a woman being harassed,If we ensure that the society and the system stand by her and not against her would be a definite deterrent.