Monday, July 6, 2015

The girl child

In the recent years, there has been a hue and cry about respecting and protecting women. There were numerous articles, photos, tweets, videos, and facebook posts all over the country. Men and women expressed several opinions, got involved in various controversies, abused others, got abused by others, some were publicly shamed and some shamed them all! All the while I wondered, had it not been for the social media, would 90 percent of these people have even thought about that rape, or this child abuse after they folded the newspaper. I still don't know. What I do know, is that sitting on a comfortable couch and writing about it or exhibiting outrage and anguish, much like what I am doing right now is never going to help.

The selfie campaign on twitter and facebook has not cooled down yet and just today, someone started a "selfie with daughter on whatsapp". My reaction? Anger. Whatsapp profile pictures can be downloaded, forwarded, and misused. Millions of people upload photos to facebook everyday. Most of them are just noise. Or are they?

30 years ago I watched a movie that was then 50 years old. It revolves around a child who is kidnapped by a gang of what-nots and manages to escape. He cannot find his parents however and grows up to someone something. My point it, 80 years ago in small villages of Southern India, there were kidnappers and smugglers who would do unspeakable things to both little boys and girls. When I was a little girl, my grandfather made us skip school whenever the fair was in town. I specifically speak of South India because I have heard North Indian girls commenting, "South safe hai yaar, ladkiyon ke liye" (South India is safe for girls). Truth is, no part of this country is safe for anyone.

Now that the indignation and outrage are out of the way, let me get back to the comfort of the couch and think. What to do to make our part of the world a safe place? Whaaaaaat to do? What to dooooo?

When villages and towns were miles apart and people only migrated out of sheer poverty, the crime rate was very low. It was never as low as in some other countries but chronologically speaking, it was low. Now, the cities are expanding and agricultural lands are being converted into urban housing projects or into IT parks. With this the lines between cities and villages are blurring and eventually vanishing. The illiteracy, want, need and other human and inhuman emotions however are right there, breeding, spawning, infecting and affecting more and more men and women. Women in villages have always been beaten up, forced into polyandry without consent, pushed to prostitution by their own fathers and brothers to provide for the family, overworked, underfed, forced to kill any newborn girl child, and have been subject to many more unthinkable, unspeakable heinous crimes. While we still are unaware of what else happens in these green beautiful innocuous village "homes", modern, educated, stylish women have migrated to the blurring borders where they have become an eyesore for these and several other men who don't bat an eyelid when a girl child is molested or a woman is raped and beaten to death. Where do we even start? It is mind boggling to even think. Despite this apparent despair, I still think Education is the key. Not the typical 10+2 education that lets one become a peon in a government office but the education of mind and soul that will curb carnal instincts and calm unnatural thoughts. What has this to do with Whatsapp selfies? Nothing. Just the idea that it is not safe. Being popular is fun. Being safe on the otherhand...