Whenever I introduce The Petticoat Journal to someone, I say, “It is a women’s magazine covering serious issues like sexual harassment, violence against women, sexual assaults, domestic violence and all atrocities against women.” More than often, I get a response like, “Ah! So, The Petticoat Journal covers serious women’s issues.” That emphasis on “women’s” used to bother me.
Calling violence against women a “women’s issue” made it look like we are talking about an issue affected by women and of course, then, had to be sorted by women. As if it’s an issue which does not involve men at any level. Well, but actually, the issue begins because of men. Violence against women is an issue initiated by men and left for women to bear it, sort it or perish with it. So, actually, violence against women in any form whether rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, is not a women’s issue. It’s a men’s issue. Men inflict violence on women. Women don’t rape themselves, they don’t sexually harass themselves or women don’t say, “Come, rape me!”
It’s men who do all this either for pleasure, revenge, or simply sadism. Violence against women is a men’s issue which affects women as they are the object, the target in the whole issue. To begin with, men are not adequately educated in interacting with women. They lack gender etiquette. They don’t seem to know that sexual assaults and violence is bestial behaviour and as human beings they need to be a lot of layers above such brutish conduct. They must know that if they behave like this, they suffer from a fatal sickness.
But who will tell them that? Well, as for adults, various sessions of serious dialogues with professional counselors and their involvement in interactive gender sensitisation discussions would go a long way in affecting the much needed cleansing. As for young boy, since boys connect and relate to their fathers better, fathers must teach their sons to respect women. They should set an example for their young boys. Mothers will do well to support their husbands in teaching these gender values to their sons as mothers spend more time with their children than fathers do. Parents must talk to their young boys openly about violence against women so as to shame them into not indulging in such behaviour.
On that note, I must share with you all this conversation I had with six-year-old Samvaad when he had just finished lighting a candle at Jantar Mantar on 31 December 2012. I asked him, “Why have you come here?” He said, “A little girl died.” I said, “Okay. So you came here.” He said, “I came here to protect women.” Just then, his mother walked in. I told her that her young boy is saying that he came here to protect women. At this, his mother told him, “No beta. Women can protect themselves. Your mamma can protect herself. Isn’t it?” He nodded, “Yes.” The mother said, “Beta you have come here because you respect women.” Samvaad repeated, “I have come here because I respect women.”
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If you, or a woman or women around you, are subject to domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other atrocities at home or anywhere else, here is what you can do.Know more