I rarely feel the need to defend anything I have put down in writing. But I think my last post has confused some readers. They have read it as a defence of the Mumbai eve teasers and murderers. How and why I have no idea. Because I don’t condone the crime and the criminals in any way in my post. I merely try to explore social and psychological processes that contribute to crimes like these.
I don’t think sexual harassment is a malaise that breeds only in slums and economically deprived neighbourhoods. It is classless. The only difference I observe is while these poor and uneducated goons will stand in street corners and harass women, the affluent aggressor will go a step further to carjack a victim and rape her in his vehicle or shoot a female bartender in the head for not serving him a drink.
I believe if crimes against women have to stop, women will have to rise and take stances when they see other women being harassed or violated be it within their own family or outside. There is no point in talking about feminist texts and how they point out to the inherently manipulative nature of a patriarchal system that forces women to co-opt in anti women processes. Those of us with basic intelligence know that. What next? Surely you don’t expect the same men who are powerful, who are beneficiaries of this rotten system to turn against the same system that gives them privileges to harass, to rape, to molest. In every war, every riot, women become one more of the wages. They are raped, they are turned into sex slaves. All kinds of things are done to them. Obviously men enjoy doing these things. Otherwise why should they have done it from the time wars were waged to more modern ones? Men are beyond hope. Women need to step in and ensure things change.
But as long as women condone men and more importantly women for acting against women, there is no hope. I refuse to join in the frenzy against the Mumbai eve teasers not because I have any sympathy for them. But they are behind bars now and will be there because they aren’t Manu Sharma or the Yadav brothers to ensure the Chief Minister or ‘senior authorities’ get them out from the back door.
In a strange way I do understand these murderers and why they did what they did. They are from backgrounds where their fathers beat their mothers daily. What respect will they have for women? One of the outraged comments to my post was respect for women is not about affordability. It is about how you are raised. That is precisely my point. How are these goons raised? What in their backgrounds can make them respect women? And sister, don’t tell me they should direct their anger and frustrations against their own lot. What do you think happens to girls and women in slums who have these goons as their neighbours?
Many years ago, when we lived in Kolkata, our domestic help used to come with her ten year old daughter to work in our house. We grew fond of the little girl. Three years later, our help told us she is getting her daughter married. My wife and I were outraged. We started giving long lectures to our help about how she shouldn’t spoil her daughter’s life. Every day we used to try and dissuade her. One day she had enough. She turned to us and told us it is all very well for you to talk like this but where I live boys have started hovering around my house. They get my husband drunk. One boy has already told my daughter, he will marry her and take her to Bombay. Do you want my daughter to be sold to a brothel? That was that little girl’s career choice. Either get married to a potentially abusive, much older man or be confined to a life of sexual slavery. We assuaged our conscience by giving her some money for the wedding. This is what these boys learn in their own context. That they can bully women into the kinds of lives they want them to have. It’s not as if these guys are nice to girls in their own neighbourhood and eve tease women from outside. Can’t you see that? Unless they are in a context where they can respect women, they will carry the same hate and aggression with them to the streets.
And yes my anger is far more against a Manu Sharma and Sheila Dixit than these Mumbai eve teasers. Dixit organizes parole for Manu Sharma because she says she was moved by his mother’s plight. Wow! And he comes out, goes to another pub and gets into another scuffle. Thankfully, there were no women around. Otherwise they would be dead too. And the whole issue fizzles out within a day. Dixit should have been made to resign over this issue and women in India should have forced her to do so. But instead we are supposed to understand Dixit’s compulsions. We are expected to buy into Manu Sharma’s mother’s grief. What nonsense is this? Why didn’t we have the same outrage then?
Also, what has happened to the Ruchika Girhotra case? Why is the media so silent on that? Why aren’t they hounding this sick man and his equally depraved wife who was defending her husband for molesting a girl as young as her daughter and driving her to suicide? Why did our feminists let her off so easily? Because of her compulsions? If this hideous couple, especially the wife, deserve our understanding, then surely the mothers of these Mumbai eve teasers and murderers do too.
If you want to get entangled in compulsions, don’t espouse causes. It’s as simple as that.