news Monday, March 02, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | March 2, 2015 | 9.54 am IST

The basic roots of the assault against any woman, irrespective of its nature and degree, lie in the notion that men and women are not equal. And who can explain that to us better than a man who has been convicted for the December 2012 Delhi gang-rape?

To put an end to a bad situation, or remedy a social problem, you need to understand its roots. 

There has been endless noise about the violence inflicted on the 23-year-old young woman in Delhi who was gang-raped and later died as a result of the brutal injuries inflicted on her by her attackers. In all the noise, uproar, and sheer shock at the barbaric nature of the sexual and physical assault, there was a lot of debate about the appropriate punishment, calls for “chopping it off” and for capital punishment for “Nirbhaya”.

Without her permission, media houses martyred her to the cause of their outrage on her behalf. In that outrage people forgot that she was not the only woman or girl to be raped, she stood out because the nature of the assault on her was more than the violence usually seen. 

But the sexual assault on the physiotherapy student who was gang-raped was not an isolated case. That is what the public debate ignores when trying to understand what happened to her and why.

That is where a new documentary made by BBC titled India’s Daughter is enlightening. In an interview to the BBC, British newspaper The Telegraph reports that Mukesh Singh says: “A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o'clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 per cent of girls are good.”

But what Mukesh Singh says, is actually nothing new. Too many women in this country have heard variations of this line of thought – from mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, everybody in the extended family and neighbourhood. While this note of caution for the girls and women from these groups may be out of a mixture of concern and contempt, it does exist nonetheless. 

Boy and girl are not equal. 

Where did he get this attitude from? 

"When being raped, she shouldn't fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape.” It seems as if he sees nothing wrong with using force against a woman. He has no notion of the concept of consent. 

How did he learn to think that a woman’s wishes do not matter? 

We need to remember that both the woman who was brutally assaulted and the Mukesh who was one of those who assaulted her, are both part of the same society. The one, who lived her life in a way she wanted to – by studying and going about with her friends and family; and the other who thought she had no right to. 

Who is going to tell the boys and girls of this country, that women have dreams too? And that there is nothing wrong with it? Who is going to tell the girls and boys of this country, that the attitude that girls should stay at home is the wrong one?

 

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