For the past weeks I have been silently watching the ludicrous, absurd, idiotic, inane, nonsensical - and I could use all the synonyms possible - remarks of our politicians, religious leaders, administrators and let us not forget our so called protectors aka policemen on why rapes occur. At first I was I must admit dumbfounded and even revolted, but after a bit one almost got inured at the stupidity and lunacy. Rape is because: wearing skirts, wearing make up, going out, eating chowmein, not calling your rapist brother while being raped, not being married at an early age, drinking vodka, having a divorced mother, and so on. And wait many ways of protecting one's self were also proffered: wear an overcoat over your uniform in the tropical heat, stay indoors, go back home after school, accept the social contract called marriage where your role is to cook, do not live in cities as rapes do not happen in rural areas, live in Bharat and not India (wonder how that works)! I hope you see the common denominator that runs like a leit motiv: it is the woman and woman alone who is responsible for her rape. A politician had the audacity to state that 98% of rapes are consensual. I wonder how a two year old consents to rape. Much has been written about these aberrations and so I will not delve on the issue.
What is frightening though is that none of our so called leaders had anything to say about 'men' and their role in sexual assault. No one suggested that boys should be taught to respect women. But one should not blame them. In India boys are taught that they are superior, powerful, shielded and always protected - by their mothers, sisters, wives and even leaders as we have just seen. This message is insidiously and surreptitiously repeated over and over again. How can we forget the lofty portrayal of the Indian woman in Mother India! Cinema in the fifties and sixties was replete with images of the ever suffering, ever sacrificing mother and/or wife. I recently came across an article in a weekly entitled: the real woman haters. The brought to light the latest advertisement of a leading milk manufacturer. I would urge you to watch it and ponder over the lessons this one and a half minute ad offers.
It is disturbing that in the second decade of the XXIst century such an ad is made. It may look sweet and touching at first glance but what are the lessons that the little boy is given: daddies yell at mommies and mommies keep quiet; mommies take the blame on sonny's behalf or in other words lying is good and acceptable; sonnies need to drink milk and grow up to look after mommies etc. The child is not taught to accept his responsibility and take the scolding. The child is not taught to stand up for his mom. The child is made to believe that it OK that daddies shout at mommies. He is told that there will always be someone to take the rap. True that this ad sadly depicts the reality of many homes, even educated ones. If we want to change mindsets and attitudes and boys to respect women, such ads should be banned. They do more harm then the much maligned item numbers of scantily dressed heroines. It is time we looked at such matters with concern.