The country is indeed outraged by her death. Decibel levels on news channels are rising and so are they on the social networking sites. One thing is very clear: everyone understands and believes that this is a mere drop in the ocean and there is an endemic systemic problem. But are we really doing anything about it? To ensure that it is not lost amidst the sound bites of the next cricket match, here is my two cents of learnings and “To Do’s” for various parties:
To The Government
1) I know you have spent a few sleepless nights and are perhaps still tossing and turning in sleep. But start with trying to sit up straight. Just to check may be if you have a backbone. If yes, get this case closed by the end of Jan 2013. Seeing the sordid “six” creatures hanged, is the least you can do.
2) Stop biding time with the setting up of the judicial commission. Get the required legislation passed asap. You already know the contents of the legislation from speedy trials to harsher punishments. If not, catch hold of any human being on the streets of Delhi and you will be amazed at their levels of awareness and sophistication.
3) Hire a communications consultant; and till the workshop is over, issue gag-orders on all the ministers and party members. No communication is better than bad communication. If you don’t pay attention, very soon there will be irreparable ‘dents’ and mind you the color of the ‘paint’ will be black
4) Call the opposition for a meeting. If not for anything just to humor them. It won’t strengthen your stand, but will at least strip them of a “REAL” talking point on TV shows. It will also not worsen your already obscenely grim chances of returning to power and foster ties with them.
5) The 999th bill on reservation can wait. We will deal with fiscal deficit later and call Walmart another day. But this has got to be NOW! Initiate police reforms right away and set up a database of sex offenders (both ‘minor’ and ‘major’ whatever that means) to aid the police in the same.
To The Media
1) Good job done. You can pat yourself on the back and rest it at that. This case was well covered. Identity was withheld, mostly right questions asked and to right people, the sentiment on the ground was communicated. But don’t get carried away by just one good work. There have been numerous cases that would have drowned in the sound bites of IPL and Bollywood.
2) In today’s age, the media has become an immeasurably important agency to not only galvanize and awaken the general public but also bring politicians in connection with ground realities. Must continue to ask right questions, tough questions, questions that concern the people to people who must answer them, analyze their answers and bring the truth. Be fearless and independent (Probably too much to ask for).
3) Hunt for such stories that happen invariably every day. Possibly get a helpline number for the victims to contact a news channel if an FIR is not being registered by a police officer, if an accused is getting patronage by a politician. Maintain an index for cities and districts and states. Ask relevant authorities regarding the cases and their progress. Don’t let stories die. Name and shame the culprits.
4) Don’t let these cases die once elections arise. On the website, maintain the backgrounds of and accusations against all candidates. Make the public aware of all the sex crimes committed by the candidate or associated kins. Also show the track record of an incumbent candidate’s constituency. Compare their records.
5) Force political parties to explain reasons behind selecting candidates with tainted backgrounds and if they would be ok to sit in legislatures with charge-sheeted members in their ranks? How could a person accused/charge-sheeted of rape possibly make laws regarding rape?
To The Parents
1) Children learn by example is a well known fact. Practise what you preach. Display that notion of equality you want to teach your kids. Men won’t become lesser “men” if they help in the kitchen or do the dishes or laundry and it won’t hurt women in sharing their opinions about financial and other important decisions in the family.
2) Don’t be like your parents. Stop changing the channel when a rape case is being discussed or a condom ad is airing. Educate your children. Have you forgotten, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing? The onus is on you.
3) Educate your children about sex. Tell them the differences between “good touch” and “bad touch”. Trust me it would be better than you finding out that they found out the same reading a magazine or an adult website or even worse having undergone the same.
4) DO NOT differentiate between your kids. Just because your son hit a last ball four in the gully cricket match and won it does not mean you ignore your daughter who is rather quiet. May be she won a poetry competition in school and isn’t vocal about it. May be she was roughed up by a guy in the school bus and you think she is in a bad mood because she is going through “that phase” in her life.
5) Demonstrate to the kids you treat women outside the family with equal respect. Treat that maid in the house, that sabjiwali, that padosi Mrs “Talk to All” with equal respect and sensitivity.
To The Teachers
1) School is the first place where the child experiences and shapes his/her personality. This is where future successful and good citizens are made. At the same time, it is here itself that offenders are bred. Teachers must take responsibility and stop shrugging it off to parents.
2) Sex education must be made a compulsory part of the curriculum and teachers must be trained on how to deal with the subject. They must emphasize on the invisible “Consent” part of sex. Again the foundations have to be laid out in the junior classes itself starting with “touch” and gradually increasing in requirements.
3) Teachers must suppress inappropriate behavior in the school itself, intended or unintended. Lewd remarks, sexist comments, gesticulations should not be tolerated and the student must be adequately but sensitively reprimanded.
4) There must be a grievance cell and students must be educated and informed on where and whom to report such offences fearlessly and reporting should be encouraged and may be awarded.
5) Teachers must encourage students to think beyond themselves and report offences against anyone. Maybe a friend, someone in the family, someone in the locality. This will facilitate a broader culture and slowly bring societal change.
To The Guy Next Door
1) New girl in class. She looks good. Go ahead. Make friends with her. May be ask her out. But if she says no, that’s not the end of the world. Don’t call her names for that. May be she liked someone else, may be she didn’t, may be you smelled bad. But there indeed is more to life than dating ‘that particular girl’.
2) It is totally ok to like a girl or may be even a good looking female teacher. So like her, admire her beauty, her grace, her mannerisms. But know your boundaries. Don’t let a “Main Hoon Na” SRK or a “Dil” Amir Khan cloud your judgment
3) You feel energetic and charged. May be it’s the age. But vent it out. Channelize the testosterone and adrenalin to better use. Play a sport, run a marathon, hit the gym. You don’t have to take it out on someone else just to feel more “manly”
4) They love you more than you can imagine and you vividly remember the times when you were weak in the knees. So respect your mother and sister. Probably you do. So what makes you afford any less respect to those of others? Why do you have to lace every sentence with them as punctuation marks?
5) Grow up! Really, the times are changing. The truth is that the competition has increased than it ever was. The extra bit of time you spent on thinking and discussing “her”, there was another girl somewhere, who managed that extra bit of study time or an extra hour of honing a particular skill, which will give her that extra edge when looking for a job you wanted and then you will curse her saying, she got it “because of her looks”.
To The Girl Next Door
1) Be the change…Take charge of your life…May be you like your mom a lot, but you don’t have to grow up like her. The age of being on the receiving end and doing nothing about it is long gone. If you can make your own decisions regarding which elective to choose in college, which career path to take, which guy to marry, you can very well take decisions on this aspect of your lives.
2) Speak up… Shout your lungs out…Till they hear. There is no shame in calling an offender an offender. If it requires going in the details, so be it. Mankind probably already knows about female anatomy than it should. It will neither increase their knowledge, nor demean your pride.
3) Don’t think. KNOW how much you can take. You are the best judge of how innocent that whistle is, how loving that flying kiss is or how flattering that jibe/innuendo is? When in doubt, call on the wrong side. Again that bollywood flick in which the actress eventually marries him, was just a movie. You are intelligent enough to know that.
4) Accept that there are limits. DEFINE your limits. Knowing them is not enough. Again you are the best judge. Draw that line between sexy and grotesque, how low is a revealingly- low neckline and how many rounds of drinks are enough for the high? It is totally ok to be going wherever you want, whenever you want and wearing whatever the hell you want. But I personally don’t think it is anywhere near cool to get totally wasted and throw yourself all over a guy. Of course, it doesn’t by any stretch of imagination give him the slightest bit of a right to see that as a sign of an opportunity, but I think you will sleep better without that thought in your mind.
5) “Women who think they can equal men, lack ambition.” Of course, the world has changed; you have outperformed men on so many fronts, to name a few- grit, determination, creativity, pain-threshold, compassion. So do not take things lying down on the ground. Do not let that silly whistle, that inappropriate jibe, unsettle you. But do not settle for anything less than you deserve.