The culture of raping women both for personal gratification of persons involved or as a weapon of oppression is killing the public morale of the nation within and globally. The brutal gang rape of Disha at Hyderabd on 27 November, 2019 re-enacted the worst case of Nirbhaya in Delhi seven years ago. In Delhi it was a gruesome killing of the victim within the bus and in Hyderabad it was a brutal burning of her almost alive in open field, after gruesome gang rape . These are only most protested and sensationalized cases but similar cases are happening in many parts of the country. In Disha case the rapists were shot dead. Nirbhaya murderers are still awaiting the hanging. There are many such gang rapes which do not even get media attention.

The news of raping small kids on daily basis is also killing our public sensibilities making the nation think that this is one more bad news and leave at that. Teachers raping their own students in the schools, religious preachers raping their followers is yet another aspect which makes our educational and spiritual institutions fearsome places.

Gang rapes and murder of the victims indicates that it is not lack of self control of an individual and aggrandizing any woman on whom the he could lay hands. It is an expression of cultural brutalization of several layers of our society, the roots of which are in the present family, school, religious structures and civil society, as the gang rapists come from different families, castes and so on. Even our universities are not out of this kind of barbaric rapism. I call it rapism because it has become a social ideological trend, particularly in India.

From village to city, from family to school, college, temple, Masjid, church we must re-think about our man-woman relationship and launch a massive cultural campaign leaving no religion, no school or no family to itself. This disease is presenting itself as ‘Indian’ hence we must tackle it as Indians with a new vision. Both men and women should be fully involved in this cultural campaign of rape free India.

Caste system and dehumanized patriarchal relations brutalized the Indian man-woman relations in a manner that no other society in the world got brutalized. The issue has to be tackled holistically but not just case by case.

If we start from our village family system move upwards into the towns and cities our families use a lot of abusive language at home. Most of the abuses are women centrist. This language certainly gets internalized from childhood stage as father, mother and grand parents use very abusive language as common acceptable idiom. This passes on from generation to generation.

In our society the so called manhood is defined by the amount of control and abusive power that a man has over the women. A man who treats a woman as his equal in everyday life is treated as impotent. This is a very barbaric cultural notion but it is very prevalent. We must fight it out.

Our books are more around romance and sex than around production, science, nature and co-operative man-woman relations. The schools, colleges feed anti-women cultural idiom as an extended language from home to school.

Our police stations are known for using very abusive language and our cinemas are full of violence and sex both rapist and consented. No cinema without vulgar sex and violence can run in the theater for a day. Both the mind of viewer and the producer and the actor is geared to negative sex of violence or heroic physical violence, which is again very brutalizing. All this goes against women.

Rapism of human beings in India or anywhere does not even match the behavior of female and male animal sexul engagement practices. Among animals and birds without the consent of the female the male cannot indulge in forceful sex. The Indians need to be taught of animal behavioral science more and more as the cultural man-woman oppressive relationship is worse than even than that of animals. Of course, the Indian kind of rapism of men does not match with that of other societies. Because gang rapes and killings are very rare in any other society, except in war situations.

In normal situations any personal touch of a female body by a male person her consent is a precondition. In India by and large that is not considered necessary. This is a big challenge to our family and education system. We must admit this weakness of the society and nation and think of a civilizational shift.

The solution is not just more policing and fast track court judgments. It is certainly not encounter killing of the rapists. Since the problem is in our anti-women abusive culture, we must think of man-woman equal rights culture at home and in the public domain. That involves developing a culture of zero tolerance of abuse of women at home, in the field of agrarian or industrial production places or in the school, college or office, even verbally. In every home language has to be monitored by neighbors and any use of abusive language at home and outside should be condemned and shamed.

By and large we have overcome woman or wife beating even in villages with such social shaming and women assertion. Not that no woman beating within the family or outside takes place. However, rampant woman beating has come down. Similarly woman abuse, rape and murder will come down and over a period of time will stop provided we inject a culture of deep respect for women at every place.

Family, school, religious institutions and market places must adopt a cultural practice that woman and man are equal and their self respect needs to be kept up. The school plays a more critical role than any other institution. Our syllabus component about dignity of woman and dignity of labour must increase enormously. If we do not teach children in the schools that woman’s labour and creativity is foundation of advancement and development of the nation we will suffer such maladies more and more in future.

Let us start a cultural revolution for man-woman equality and the first step is opening up a discussion on this issue everywhere–at home, in the school, college, temple, masque, church, office and in the shops.

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a Political Theorist, Social Activist and Author


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