Let's teach the boys how to treat girls. It starts young

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Lets teach the boys how to treat girls. It starts young

India needs more women to believe this. India needs more men to understand this. The message has to go down deep.

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Published: Sat 24 Oct 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 25 Oct 2015, 9:13 AM

Even though factually incorrect, rape capital has been Delhi's tag much before the recent spate of sexual atrocities on infants: two-year-old being abducted by men on two wheelers, while the mother of the child, a housemaid, was at work. Five-year-old being lured into shady corners while the mother, a bricklayer, was at work.
Bangalore, like Delhi, saw a string of such crimes. India is no stranger to rape, to gender inequality, to men raping women because they can, and with no fear of the law throwing them in jail. The horror is also in the fact that not all these crimes are reported. It doesn't matter that we're in the 21st century. There still exist appalling mindsets - those of men and women. Sections of society still shame the victim rather than the culprit. And let's not only blame the men for being uneducated and brutal. The onus is also on women, on mothers, on a sisterhood, a network to speak up and not allow a victim to remain silent out of fear.
The New York Times this week in a piece called A Rapist's Nightmare spoke about Bitiya, a teenage rape victim in north India. Nikolas Kristoff, the writer, reported from Lucknow that Bitiya said, "she does not feel disgraced, because the dishonour lies in raping rather than in being raped".
India needs more women to believe this. India needs more men to understand this. The message has to go down deep.
The piece went on to say that "the resolve that she and her family display is having an impact. The rape suspects had to sell land to pay bail, and everybody in the area now understands that raping girls may actually carry consequences. So while there were many rapes in the village before Bitiya's, none is believed to have occurred since".
That is a powerful reality. A fear of repercussion, and the hope for justice changing the face of society is needed. Fear of punishment will keep people in check. A rapist has to know he can't get away with violating a woman's basic right to a safe existence. And if basic human decency to not rape woman doesn't exist, a fear of consequences must. Crime must go punished. And for this we need gender sensitisation at every level.
India needs to sensitise its citizens, regardless of gender, and class and status. Ministers mouth off thoughtless bytes - marry off girls at 16 to protect their virtue, they say. You can always count on a minister to put his foot in his mouth after every rape makes the headlines, whether in UP or Haryana or Delhi or anywhere else. We've all heard stories of cops failing in their duty to protect and bring perpetrators of crime to book, and passing callous remarks aimed at maligning the women.
It's not education alone that is going to make a difference in the years to come. It's rapping boys on their knuckles early on. It's education with a slant towards imparting values rather than drumming in facts. We have to teach children - girls, too - the very basics of empowerment, of justice, of what you can say and do to a woman, and what you most definitely can't. It's a lot about respecting another human being. And it's about women like Bitiya, who inspire other women, in their refusal to remain silent about rape.

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