Don’t trivialise violence against women by blaming it on Valentine’s Day | editorials | Hindustan Times
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Don’t trivialise violence against women by blaming it on Valentine’s Day

Attacks on women take place because of a deep-seated bias and a wrong sense of empowerment that patriarchy breeds

editorials Updated: Jun 04, 2017 17:09 IST
RSS leader Indresh kumar  interacts with the media, Jaipur. (File Photo)
RSS leader Indresh kumar interacts with the media, Jaipur. (File Photo)(HT)

Last week addressing a group of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteers at the end of their training, Indresh Kumar, a RSS leader and patron of the RSS-affiliated Muslim Rashtriya Manch, pointed fingers at the West and blamed western traditions such as Valentine’s Day for attacks on women and other social ills. A Press Trust of India report quoted Mr Kumar as saying: “In India, love has been sacred and pious.... but the western culture commercialised love and gave birth to festival of Valentine’s Day which is now responsible for problems like rape, illegitimate children and violence on women.”

Mr Kumar’s views could have been laughed off had their implications not been dangerous. He was addressing a group of volunteers who should not espouse this regressive, misleading ideology when they step out to work in society. It is such misguided inferences that have for some time now made Valentine’s Day the favourite target for these self-appointed custodians of Indian culture. Similar views are shared by political parties such as the Shiv Sena and MNS. Some fringe groups have taken it upon themselves to oppose ‘western culture’, dictate sartorial choices and even attack young couples seen in public places. Vigilante groups claiming to be the custodians of ‘culture’ have attacked gift shops, cafes and other hangouts popular among the youth. India is a young nation and its youngsters should have the freedom to express their affections and emotions — not be threatened and, worse, attacked by anti-social elements.

Another consequence of such a view is that it trivialises the issue of attacks on women.

To say that attacks on women are the result of western culture and influences is a huge denial of what is happening here. Such attacks take place because of a deep-seated bias, a wrong sense of empowerment that patriarchy breeds and a lack of respect for the other person, in this case women. It is this skewed sense of authority and entitlement that is imposed on women.

To blame social evils on outside influence conveniently obstructs constructive discussions that are long overdue on important issues such as attacks on women. Rather than instilling such wrong notions about culture and values, organisations must teach their members to respect individual freedoms and not be prejudiced.