Let Us take the Lead
Intro: If instinct tells you to say ‘no’ to someone known to you, do it. You must never compromise safety for the sake of politeness.
One tends to trust the known more than the unknown. With the known, we let our guard down and become relaxed. That’s when disaster can strike. Police statistics tell us that in more than 90 per cent cases of rape and molestation, it is trust that’s betrayed. In the first five months of 2014 alone, about 797 rape cases were reported in Delhi. In 93 per cent of these cases, the accused were either known or related to the victim.
Actually, this is not news. Police have been highlighting this trend for many years now. As a print journalist, I remember publishing numerous stories and graphics underscoring this fact for more than a decade. However, it seems the society is yet to accept this unpleasant truth. One hardly ever hears a discussion or debate on this issue. And unfortunately, there has been no concerted effort to educate girls about possible dangers from friends and family.
|Three things need to be done immediately to effectively curb sexual crime:
1. The government must design systems to ensure swift and strict action against all
perpetrators of such crime. We need to build pressure to ensure this.
2. As a responsible citizen of India, each one of us must take a stand and speak up against any such activity that comes to our notice – from eve-teasing to sexual harassment and violence.
3. Women, and even small girls, must be actively taught the
art of caution, identifying dangers and self-defense.
It is high time we learnt a lesson from statistics. For one, teach each girl and woman to be alert for any sign of bad intentions. The moment she notices something amiss, she must raise her voice. Family and friends should take her concerns seriously enough to take action.
The most important lesson for women is to learn to say ‘no’. Let’s take a simple example: A girl is alone at home and if a male relative or friend comes. And, if the girl finds it awkward to invite him into the house, but feels it’ll be too rude to turn him away. At this moment, she risks compromising her security if she lets him in. And if she doesn’t, she risks being impolite. What to do?
Circumstances must command behavior. With crime against women rising so alarmingly, safety has to take priority over etiquette. Ideally, she should politely but firmly send him back. If for some reason his entry cannot be avoided, she should immediately call someone on the mobile and inform them about who is visiting. The call should be made in the visitor’s presence so that he too realizes that a third person is aware of his presence. This would effectively deter any wicked intention. Such simple precautions in daily sundry situations can save many a mishap. Family and friends need to stand by her in such situations.
The key thing to remember is to never enter a confined space with one or more men, be it a room or vehicle. Better use public transport than take a lift. There’s safety in numbers.
Right from school-going age, little girls must be taught the difference between good touch and bad touch. Let her develop the habit of narrating everything at home, so that parents can immediately gauge when something is wrong. A very interesting news article recently reported how an alert mother’s simple trick saved her child. A man approached the child at the school gate and told him his mother was very ill and he must come along immediately. At this, the child asked the stranger if his mother had given him a secret password. The abductor was taken aback at this question, and vanished from the spot. Actually, the mother had fixed a ‘secret password’ as a code of communication with her kid. She told him if ever she needed to send an unknown person to pick him up, the child must ask for the password before accompanying that person. Safety, in this case, was child’s play!
All of us can think out of the box to create new solutions for modern day challenges. Almost daily one hears of incidents of depravity where a relative or friend or colleague violates a woman, a girl or even a baby! The society at large also has to take onus. Had we taken a tough exemplary stand when the first such incidents came to light, such crimes could have been reigned in.
Abha Khanna Gupta (The Writer is a senior Journalist and Social Worker)