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Time to teach respect

sex and relationships Updated: Dec 24, 2012 16:33 IST
Amrutha Penumudi
Amrutha Penumudi
Hindustan Times
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While the 23-year-old rape victim fights for her life in Delhi, the rest of the country is shocked at the kind of brutality she has been subjected to. There have been demands to change laws, policies, but how about a change in our mindset? If we want to prevent crimes against women, shouldn’t we start from our own homes and schools? Can teaching our sons to respect their mothers, sisters, and other women, put an end to the dangerous environment of crime in India?

Don’t discriminate
City psychologist Mansi Hasan believes that the root of the problem can always be traced back to proper upbringing. “Children follow their parents blindly. If a child grows up in a house where women are respected and loved, he will grow up to do the same. However, if he witnesses his mother or sister being hit or even insulted, and not being able to do anything about it — then he will assume that it is okay for him to do the same,” she says.

Sujoy Banerjee, the father of a girl and a boy, feels that it is important to not show any kind of gender-based bias among childrenr. “It is natural, sometimes, to give boys a lot more freedom. But by doing this, you are just showing him that his sister is not his equal. Children are easily influenced, and such discrimination will make boys think that they can get away with things,” he says.

Talk openly
Munira Bagwan is a teacher and supervisor for Ryan International School in Kharghar. After having spent many years among students in their early teens, she has realised that the best way to make them aware is to talk frankly. “They should be told, right from an early age, that an act like this is heinous and unacceptable. We read about such things happening, mourn over it for some time and then forget about it completely. How about involving the young kids and discussing these things with them,” she says.

Bagwan also says that parents need to stop being defensive about their child’s behaviour, and try and change it instead. “This is the time parents need to keep a close watch on their children, and realise that they are fully capable of making mistakes. When I call up parents about fights in class, or an act of teasing, they simply refuse to believe that their sons could ever do such a thing. That is not the right attitude,” she says.

How do criminal minds work?
Hasan says most rapists are individuals who have either witnessed abuse or have been abused in the past. “And since it went unnoticed in their case, they think they could do the same to others as well. Sometimes, it can be an act of revenge; they suffered, so they want to make others suffer as well. These people are usually filled with aggression, and an extreme sadist attitude, which they want to take out on others.”

Most rapist come from broken homes and uneducated backgrounds, which tells us that proper schooling and a sound upbringing can actually prevent children from growing into psychologically damaged individuals.