Saturday, April 20, 2013
One more bestial rape. This time that of a 5 year old girl. The scene is a repeat of December 16. Police wanting to hush up the case because they do not want to show the government and their department in a poor light, public outrage, sloganeering, expression of deep sense of despair by the Prime Minister, demands for resignation of ministers, police misbehavior with women protesters and media going over board covering it. I fully support the efforts of activists to bring in more accountability on the part of politicians, demand more professional and efficient policing, and of course the long standing demand for more sensitive and stringent laws against violence against women.
However, in all this frenzy, are we not missing out an important aspect of our society? The dehumanization of our youth? I acknowledge that sexual crimes are committed by men across classes and rural urban contexts. But I am worried about a large segment of the population which is growing at an alarming rate - the out of school, migrant or home less young people who are completely left out of the pale of development. Just think about this: a boy drops out of school, runs away to a big city at the age of 11, lives on the street, works in a tea stall facing violence on a day to day basis just to fill his stomach, exposed to drugs, liquor, commercial sex, underworld dealings, and may be brutalization in the hands of adults he deals with.
He is so thoroughly dehumanized that brutal violence becomes second nature to him. Add to this, the sense of deprivation when he is constantly bombarded with images of luxury, plenty and celebration of unhindered consumption. He is constantly exposed to sleaze and meaningless violenceon TV, in films and on mobile. Remember, all this while he has no opportunity to question or redefine his patriarchal values. No way to understand his own sexual needs and express them in a healthy manner. If a sixteen year old boy could brutalize a woman so badly , if a 24 year old could inflict such brutal sexual violence on a five year old and if young men do not think twice before disfiguring women with acid we need to look at what kind of a society we are building.
Police reforms, laws etc are important in their own way but what is important is heavy investment in our youth - on their education, employment and rehabilitation. We need to make counseling centers available in each and ever locality where youth could come and get professional help as well as find a place to forge more healthy relationships. We have a dearth of trained counsellors who could provide free services to youth. We need to invest in building a cadre of trained counselors not just software engineers. We need to invest in providing support to home less and people living on streets so that they live in a safe environment. We need to focus on sexual health programmes both for school and out of school youth.
We can not ignore these issues anymore, not in a world where information,aspirations and dreams are being freely peddled through media and advertising. If we do not respond, it would lead to the frustration of rising aspirations. It should not surprise us if such incidents become more and more common in future.
How about each one of us, starting a dialogue and striking a conversation with the young men on gender and sexual health issues in our families, neighborhoods and work places?
It is time to stop the dehumanization of youth and build a world that is equal and safe for all.
(if I get comments on this blog saying that I am justifying and rationalizing rape, I see no hope for this country