I was in Ranchi for the quarterly review meeting of FEM- Jharkhand. It was here that I had a discussion with Kalyani Meena, Director of Prerana Bharti and a feminist working in various districts of Jharkhand.
Kalyani initiated the reaction on the minor’s (5 years old girl) rape in Madhopur, Devghar district under the banner of “Nagariq Sangathan, Madhopur” on 24th and 25th April 2013. After her call, many organisations and also men participated in the protest. The question still remains- why does it fall upon feminists and women to take initiatives? Why men as individuals and groups are not able to observe or able to sense the depth of problem? It was expected that FEM – Jharkhand will become one such group of men who are not comfortable in a social norm where silence is maintained on the incidents of violence against women. I strongly feel that FEM and other men’s groups that believe in equality and human rights have to come forward and say loudly that they are against any type of human rights violation, especially sexual assault and violence against women, at all places, whether it is in the family or public sphere.
Another discussion with Kalyani took place around the root cause and reasons for this type of violence. Kalyani was very upset about the increasing number of cases of violence. I am still not clear whether the cases are increasing or the reporting is increasing. This needs more reflection and analysis. Another issue is why it is the youth and adolescents that are increasingly involved in such crimes. One argument is the ready access to pornography material through the internet that helps them want an opportunity for sex with any girl at any cost. However, the difference between exploring and exercising our “sexuality” is deferent from sexual violence and brutal crime. My whole worry is about wanting sex at “any cost”. I feel it is very dangerous that boys are learning the term “any cost”. Men and boys who are perpetrators of violence cannot be segregated on the basis of caste, class or ethnicity. There are also tribal men and boys who are becoming similarly violent although their socio-culture set-up does not approve this. We have to stop and ask where they are learning this behavior.
We cannot lay all blame on these boys alone. We have to think about and analyse the whole socialisation process. I am convinced that all institutions involved in socialisation like media, family and education is responsible for promoting violence. But the State has a bigger role in this process. In middle class and urban communities, children do not spend time with other children playing and learning to respect each other or developing emotional bonds with each other. Children come from school and are sent for tuition or are engaged in home work or playing indoors. They do not have time to interact too much with parents and parents also don’t have time for children. Parents also feel very happy to see the child occupied and feeling they are safe. The schools, especially private schools are more concerned with getting better results and marks rather than teaching children to respect human rights, and respect women and girls. Children in rural area or from poor families are neglected in schools. There are few teachers in school, most are absent, and time is invested in monitoring the mid-day meal, which again has very poor quality. In rural and remote areas, the primary schools are even more neglected. Parents struggle for wages and often have no time for children. These children may be sensitive but their ambition and competition affects them as well as seeing children of middle class and other communities. Adolescents are more interested in leaving home as soon as possible and want to be involved in earning money and being free. The time when boys should be in school is actually spent by them for earning a living and they are easily caught up in the process of crime. Then the whole question is where and how these adolescent boys will learn the ethics and social norms of a democratic society. Who is responsible and accountable for this situation?
I am quite convinced that all social institutions and especially the educational institutions have to take the responsibility and become accountable for teaching ethics and social norms. There is need to stop a socialisation process, which produces aggressive and hegemonic masculinity. The celebration of such masculinity has to be stopped. If adolescents learn sexuality through IT based pornography then they will learn a more violent form of sexuality. Opposing the sex education also creates opportunities for pornography. We have to provide quality sex education to adolescents. If violence and sexual crimes are increasing, then all of us have to take the responsibility and make efforts in the socialisation process and making the State mechanism accountable. If teachers are absent from school, there is corruption in mid-day meals, there is violence in family, school and community- then boys will learn violent practices and become unafraid of the law. In such situations, the only lesson they will learn is that “they must get what they want at any cost” and this will become very common for them.
By Satish Kumar Singh in Jharkhand in April 2013