Thomson Reuters Foundation carried out a survey of global experts on women’s issues and the results have revealed that India is the world’s most dangerous country for women.
After reading this, as the father of a 7-year-old boy, my first reaction was, “Phew! Thank god I’ve a son.” India is not safe for women and that made me momentarily glad to not have a daughter. But the feeling didn’t last for long.
My next reaction was, “Shit! I’ve a son.” India is a dangerous place for women. And who poses the biggest threat to women? That’s right — Men.
I’m raising a boy who will turn into a man. The biggest question before me right now is — How can I ensure my son doesn’t turn into a man who is a threat to women?
No parents intentionally raise their sons to be sexual offenders or criminals. Even in the most patriarchal households, boys are raised as if they are superior to girls, but they are still not raised to be violent. (I hope.) But it is such upbringing only that makes men believe that they are entitled to everything they desire. When crying, coaxing or money doesn’t work, they turn to coercion and violence.
Of course, society plays a part, friendships play a part, media plays a part, but nothing plays as big a part as family. What kind of an adult a child grows into being depends majorly on how he or she was raised as a child. So, if India is dangerous for its daughters because of its sons, it is its parents that are responsible.
Parents everywhere. Because crimes against women are committed by men of all types — rich and poor, educated and illiterate, urban and rural, young and old.
Maybe back when you and I were raised, crimes against women weren’t as rampant. Maybe our parents didn’t fully understand the eventual implications of raising boys and girls differently. Maybe they were raised by their parents into believing that boys should be sent to school and girls to the kitchen. Maybe they didn’t know better. But we do.
We, parents today, have the benefit of being able to learn from our parents’ mistakes. We can take a look back at how parenting was earlier and change it for the better today.
India cannot continue to be the most dangerous country in the world for women. It should drop down in that list and continue dropping till it completely disappears from the list. And to do that, we should not be raising our girls into believing that going out at night is unsafe; we should be raising our boys into understanding that girls owe them nothing. They are in absolutely no way superior to girls. They are equals.
Of course, this reads great. But I haven’t a clue where to begin. Probably at home. We have already done away with traditional gender roles in our house. We make an attempt to show our son what is wrong and what is right. I have friends who raise children as equals. But even collectively, there are so few of us.
A minuscule part of our country has access to the internet. An even smaller part is on social media and reads blogs like these. News like this survey result won’t be carried by a major part of the regional offline media. And even those who actually do come across it will be unable to comprehend how deep the problem really runs and where the responsibility lies.
I realise how hopeless the situation seems. But I also realise that change has to start somewhere. Hence, not for anyone else, but I’m writing this for me. I’ll continue raising my son without making him feel like he’s entitled to anything solely because he’s a boy. If you have a daughter, you raise her without the belief that she deserves less because she’s a girl. Maybe if enough of us do this, we would do enough to make a small change in this big world. Maybe.
I may be out of ideas here, but thankfully other people aren’t. If you’re a man, you’re a part of rape culture. And if you want to do something about it, in real life as well, read this — A Gentleman’s Guide To Rape Culture.