Gratuitous advice seems in abundance these days when it comes to how women should conduct themselves. The latest to add his two bit worth on the subject is Malayali singer and national award winner KJ Yesudas. The singer who prides himself on his secular credentials feels that women should not trouble people by wearing jeans. What must be covered should be covered, is how he so eloquently put it.
Men will look beyond the jeans, he feels, for revealing dress provokes others. Of course, women in the highly literate state are up in arms against the singer’s remarks. Crude though his remarks were, it reflects what many men think when it comes to how women should dress and how they should behave.
In Bangalore, three girls fought off their molesters in public while a 70-strong crowd watched, many of them taking photos to upload later. The implication clearly is that men cannot contain their baser instincts and so women have to efface themselves so as not to provoke them. The fact that such molestations as the one in Bangalore take place in broad daylight suggests that the culprits have no fear of either the public or the law. In many places, the police themselves are of the opinion that women in ‘western’ dress or women who are out late have no one to blame but themselves if they are harmed.
Leaders like the Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav have dismissed cases of rape in his state as the result of boys just being boys. But the same ‘boys’ would think twice if they knew that the law would not spare them. The public, which is invariably outraged by the inaction on the part of the police, too rarely comes to the help of women in distress.
The government has taken the lead on many fronts. It must now use its considerable might and resources to start a movement to propagate respect for the autonomy and rights of women. India simply cannot go forward if women do not enjoy the same rights as men whether on the roads, in homes or workplaces. Yesudas should stick to what he knows best, singing. The public can do without his unsolicited advice on women about which, clearly, his knowledge is severely lacking.