To what would you attribute India's sneering, subversive attitude towards women, and the rising incidents of sexual violence against them? Fifty-nine per cent of the Hindustan Times readers who took part in an online poll conducted between March 31 and April 10 put the blame on the skewed core values with which we raise our children -- which clearly discriminates against the girl child.
One-fourth of the respondents opined that crimes against women are on the rise because there is no fear of the law (born out of the complete toothlessness of existing laws), and about 15% thought commodification of women was to be blamed for the scourge.
We asked readers for their suggestions on ways to get out of the rut. While 39% of the 989 respondents felt we need to urgently revisit, and question, existing Indian values, beliefs and approach to life, a close 35% said the government needs to introduce stricter laws that could act as deterrents.
Interestingly, about 17% of respondents believed that entrusting women with more responsibility in the decision-making process could bring about a change in attitudes, and another 8% demanded a ban on suggestive lyrics and item numbers in Bollywood.
“Indian men need to change their outlook towards women and accept that the opposite gender is not their so-called property. Men need to start respecting women and their choices,” said one respondent.
Echoing similar sentiments, another respondent said: "Rape is not rare in India now, is it? Does that mean every rapist gets to walk scot-free after what they have done? The pain, the humiliation inflicted on the victim and her family is profound. Action needs to be taken and it has to be quick."
Many respondents even supported capital punishment whole-heartedly and suggested that it shouldn't be a consequence only for the rarest of rare cases.
Wrote a reader: "In India, marital rape is an ugly reality. What do you do about it? Nothing! Most of the spouses won’t even speak up against it. But for the ones who do, it is a continuous struggle thereon."
Here's another comment from a reader: "A woman who undergoes abuse, especially rape, is humiliated, shunned and blamed by the society. This is outrageous. It’s as if the woman doesn't exist."
So, what’s the solution? How do you sensitise society? A majority of the respondents, 64%, felt that aggressive campaigning is the only way to change people’s unhealthy attitude towards rape victims. Setting up self-help centres in each locality, 21% felt, could help ensure the psychological well-being of victims and another 13% advocated counselling to all government officials.
To highlight our point, we picked eight videos in the survey copy that focused on deep-rooted issues like child sex abuse, eve-teasing, rape and a general sense of India's misogynistic culture. While some claimed that such videos are just another form of male-bashing, others believed it is an indefensible but effective way of making one’s voice heard.
8 videos against sexual violence that went viral
A reader commented: “Super feminism has become a new way of attaining popularity. Just make a video, and do nothing about the issue. I have nothing against feminists and I am all for women empowerment but videos like these just generalise men and nothing else. You seriously need to do better than this.”
While a few said that such videos would only worsen things by instigating a sense of hatred and competition between both sexes, others reiterated it would at least coerce people to start thinking about real issues, instead of blaming it on a victim or her dress-code.
“Do not make such bulls**t excuses. Even if a woman is not clad in salwar-kameez, a righteous man will never misbehave. He might look and admire, but he for sure won’t have any bad thoughts whereas a man who objectifies women may end up harassing her sexually, irrespective of the clothes she wears,” said a reader.