Cow slaughter and beef ban news have hogged the lime light for several weeks now in Indian media . Some one even got killed by a mob for eating beef recently in North India . I can’t begin to say how stupid the whole controversy is. But this silliness gets magnified when we read about one rape after another in India . Surely we can give more attention to the plight of women than holy cows ?
I am vehemently against capital punishment – I don’t think it has a place in civilized world . But when I read the news about a two year old girl getting raped in India , I started thinking whether capital punishment is still needed in a minority of cases ( “rarest of rare” as Supreme Court refers to it ). I know it’s a slippery slope if we start supporting capital punishment for some situations arbitrarily but not others – but as a father of a little girl myself , I can’t be totally objective on this matter .
My own family has some amazingly strong women who bucked the general trend of women in India – my mom ran multiple small businesses to help raise our family , my younger sister did her masters and anchored for TV channels while working at an IT company , one aunt was the first woman IPS police officer in our state, multiple female cousins did their masters degrees and have great careers and so on . Given this background – for the longest time I didn’t quite have an appreciation of what it “really” means to grow up as a girl in India .
That said – I didn’t have to look very far to see things were not all totally kosher for women.
When I was a little kid vacationing at my grand parents house annually – the accepted norm was that the men (and boys) of the house would eat before the women (and girls). Most of my aunts and older female cousins were married off really early . There wasn’t really much of an emphasis in educating girls or helping them build a career at that time .
I went to a boys only school . And in engineering college , there was just one girl in our class . So the first time I really sat next to a girl or had a conversation with a girl was when I was in business school . It took me several months to feel comfortable in a co-Ed environment . I know first hand that it took a lot longer than that for some of the girls in our class . And that is a big problem – there is no reason why we can’t have co-Ed classes from kindergarten all the way . When guys and gals get comfortable being next to each other and talking as friends , a lot of problems go away . With proper education – Over the next generation we won’t need separate lines for women , separate railway compartments for women and so on in India if we start kids on the right path from school .
Next up – we need to set things right on the home front . A dad who doesn’t respect mom and his girl children doesn’t help his son behave any better . I can’t honestly say I am setting the perfect example myself – there is plenty more I can do to share the domestic work load with my dear wife . I am trying to improve though . I do tell my little daughter all the time that there is nothing she can’t do that another boy or girl can do . I also know several friends and family members who look at it the same way . We need to change the attitude ground up – and have some real urgency about that . The duty of Indian dads and moms should move away from “best possible marriage for my daughter” to “best possible education and career for my daughter”.
There is already a lot of attention on equality of women in work place . More things are done to make it right today compared to the past – but it has to be more than just a slogan or a metric to be hit . The few women who have broken the glass ceiling has a big job now to be stellar role models to their younger female colleagues . But to solve the inequality problem meaningfully and quickly , men have to take direct responsibility . It will be an absolute shame if the male leaders of our generation don’t fix this problem for good .
Coming back to the case of rape – I absolutely think law enforcement needs to kick the offenders butt every chance they get and set an example . But knowing the level of corruption and loop holes in the Indian system – I am not holding my breath on a solution that is primarily about law enforcement.
As a society – we need to stop treating the victims of rape as bad people . They need support – medical , emotional , financial, legal. We should take away the shame factor in reporting rape . “Who will marry her now?” Is the reason why a lot of families don’t report rape . It’s time we moved on from our Stone Age mindset .
I have started seeing some folks in social media saying girls carrying guns are the solution to rapes in India . I can’t change your beliefs other than point you to the fact that there are more rapes per capita in US compared to India , while there are more guns per capita in US compared to not just India , but every other country on earth.
There are some controversial solutions being discussed as well – like legalizing prostitution in India . It definitely shocked my Indian values quite a bit – but the more I think about it , this is something that might actually work in India in reducing rapes . I wonder if someone is studying this seriously to put a proposal before the law makers . Given the ruling BJP is extremely right wing Hindu in ideology – I don’t think they will entertain a radical solution like this .