Many of our political, social and religious worthies have been outdoing one another in putting forward some extraordinary suggestions to combat rape. These range from making girls wear overcoats to asking them to recite mantras to abolishing co-education and blaming western mores and chowmein. Inspired, I have imbibed long and hard, smoked several substances and come up with the following ideas:
The best and easiest way to prote-ct people from rape and temptation is to use a chastity belt. The device was reportedly used during the Crusades, when knights ensured their ladies remained virtuous by locking them in these belts. In our enlightened times, it should be the men who should be mandatorily made to wear chastity belts. Thankfully, these gadgets are now available for men and a Google search throws up a number of sites that sell male chastity devices. Some of the popular items are The Cage, Watchful Mistress, Lockedinsteel and the 100% custom-made Steelwerks Chastity. Normal men who are not rapists should not view it as a punishment. As a firm that makes the product advertises, "It can bring a sense of security to any couple in need of additional trust."
The key to the chastity belt will, of course, be kept with the wife in case of married men. For unmarried men, the key should be at the nearest police station, where it will be unlocked on request after production of an Aadhar identity card and filling up a request form in quadruplicate.
In the wake of the increasing crimes against women, we need to firmly remember that the khap panchayats are hotbeds of regressive patriarchy. The best way to do that, I humbly submit, would be to rename them baap panchayats.
Many people have suggested that women must learn how to defend themselves by going to karate and judo classes. But men, too, must learn to be gender sensitive. That is why men must be forced to learn ballet dancing. Whether our indigenous dances such as Bhartanatyam or Kuchipudi or Odissi will have the same impact is something we need to debate, preferably on prime time TV with Digvijaya Singh.
Reactionary elements may scuttle the suggestion about chastity belts. In that case, some have proposed that men must compulsorily wear frilly lace pink underpants. That should bring out the feminine side of their personalities as well as make them coy about taking off their trousers in public. But I am a bit sceptical about its efficacy and propose that Asaram Bapu be given the privilege of testing it to see whether it has the desired effects.
We must make it binding for a man to be accompanied by a female relative whenever he goes out of the house. Offices and factories must provide accommodation for the female minders. We will have to discuss how this will work in sports, though, especially for the Indian cricket team.
Many commentators have drawn attention to the pernicious impact that movies have on impressionable male audiences. While some have suggested that all women actors wear burqas, I think all that is needed is the statutory warning 'Beware, she may be dangerous to your health', whenever a woman appears on the screen.
Lastly, why is a committee designed to frame laws on rape being headed by a man? In my humble opinion, the right candidate to head it would be Mamata Banerjee, with her black belt in Taekwondo.
Views expressed by the author are personal