Where are we going?

Today, a colleague asked me, sorry I am generalizing an entire country but India is a rapist country what is wrong with the Indian men? I had my head hanging in shame, and I wished I could defend it and say not all Indian men are like that but honestly I cannot, not with the statistics. I used to before when I would say US is among the highest, based on the statistics but now I don’t want to defend, because I feel helpless and angry. It makes me wonder, where has India gone wrong!? Is it because all of us have so much of negativity about everyone and everything as Indians!? Or is it because of social media and overexposure to it? Or is it due to lack of laws of legalized prostitution, porn, or lack of sex education? Or all of this? Think about it, from the basics of civic sense to the most “modern” use of technology, do we just criticize each and everything that we have stopped looking at the good we have always had!?

I am not a teacher, I am not yet a parent and not a psychologist but I have imagination. Imagine a world where kids grow up knowing no violence, only love and respect. What can the repercussions be? Just imagine when they are growing up, they are scolded only for discipline but apologized to and explained the reason of doing so. In a world where they do not know what bullying is because no other kid knows what bullying is, they do not know what a slap is, they do not know what pushing shoving is because they are corrected by the parents and given attention when they need it the most, if you are going to say who has time for that, then look at where the problem is, you have excuses, you can make time, even in the trains, without pushing shoving they let others go with respect, can you imagine a world like this?  I know it is hard but not impossible if we start right now.

When I was growing up I remember I was admitted to a ‘Sanskar varga’ not because we were bad kids but it was like a traditional thing to do where they taught us to respect elders, wash our hands feet when we come home, light diya and thank God for today, touch our parents feet and ask blessings, respect food on our plate and all the morals. It changed soon after my father got a heart attack and mother had to step up and take charge of the household but as kids, we grew up like that respecting elders, neighbors, every man and woman, we did not distinguish between poor and rich and color and caste until the society made us think in a limited way. I remember my sister used to wander off as a kid in her little petticoat and the fruit vendor, the vegetable vendor, the laundryman used to bring her back with no sexual intent ever.It was only when we started to grow hormones, we started realizing a few changes in us, we started feeling the difference between touches and knew who to stay comfortable with and who to stay away from. We have had our own share of eve teasing and molestations in public places, mostly during Ganesh festivals and Jatra, but we have also handled them with whatever limited maturity we had. Our parents were open to communication and helped us to heal from those scars by always encouraging us to speak up, call for help or take action, always supporting us whenever we needed them to take care of such issues. We had male friends all the time and as long as our parents were informed they were always accepting. We always were touching and joking and hugging, sitting close to each other but as we grew up we were told, not by our parents but society even by the paanwalah to stop wearing shorts, sleeveless clothes, neighbors telling us to cross our legs when we sit even when we wore full pants, to not touch guys too often, to keep a distance. As a growing woman you have to be independent and I was always the over sensitive one. I could cry at the drop of a needle. I hardly understood the hints men gave be it in professional life or personal. Ignorance was bliss. Now I look at the vegetable vendors, fruit vendors and laundrymen with doubt, making sure I don’t open doors for marketing guys or strangers. If I had to share a cab to work I would be careful. All men were suddenly threatening. But growing up I never heard so many stories of assaults, it may have existed but not to the extent it is today. Or is it better today because people have been quiet about it for so long and with the boom in social media they can use the platform to bring those crimes out in the open, if that is true, what society are we?  Aren’t we the same civilization that pride on Khajuraho, the same people who have goddesses with clothes clinging to their bodies, then suddenly why is everything sexual? Even little babies? Why is everyone a hypocrite? The other day I was asked why are shorts not appropriate in your country which only expose legs while you can wear the most revealing body hugging cloth called saree which is basically a crop top that shows cleavage all the time and has the back and mid riff always open!? I was speechless. How do I explain!? What needs training? Ofcourse the mind and getting rid of the pervert mentality that grows within young men. If we are hammered with pleasing the other half especially a woman taking the center stage to always look good, stay fit, always be presentable, look fair, set impossible standards, to be dictated terms on what to wear, how to sit, how to eat, be pretentious and careful all the time of her social existence and bring other women down to pull herself up, we are bringing down an entire country to its feet! With training young minds to treat each other with dignity and equality we also need to look deep down within ourselves to be aware of our existence as humans with skin and bones who has a limited time on earth with some kind of purpose that we were born to accomplish and what can be the biggest purpose than to serve humanity, to be kind and respectful, to be generous and forgiving? I am learning and growing everyday to be a human first!

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