The crime against the young lady in Delhi was horrific, and the culprits deserve the harshest punishment. But somewhere in the populist quest for justice – and the collective push for a tougher law – the entire male population is being painted as evil. Zero tolerance to molestation, or even a wrong gesture is fine, but labelling all men as predators on the prowl is stretching it a bit.
Be it a bikini or a burkha, there`s no stopping a deviant guy from committing an act of sexual violence. In fact, as much as rape is a sexual act, it is rooted in subjugation and insecurity, to check which we need strongest deterrents and the severest punishment. But carrying this insecurity beyond the beasts and forcing it on all men is beginning of an undesirable trend. Not every man who works in your office or stays near your home is a rapist, or even a pervert who thinks little about offending women to get his cheap thrills. There are still enough secure men out there who respect women, are brought up learning that women are equals in true sense of the word and whose sense of strength when it comes to women, is to protect them and not harm them.
These caring men – who are in a far greater majority than the odd ones – are as jolted and revolted by the deeds of the rapists as any woman is. They are holding placards of protest not only because it seems like the right thing to do, but somewhere deep down they feel that they too need to voice their anguish against the wrongdoings of fellow men. These are the men who go home as fathers and wonder about the safety of their little daughters; these are the men who as brothers worry about the safety of their sisters when they venture out of the house. Far from being rapists, they are mere fellow human beings. Looking at every man with a suspicious eye is not only questioning his character, but his very identity as a woman-respecting being. And what good does this atmosphere of suspicion do even for the womenfolk, besides leaving them untrusting and feeling unsafe? Whom will you trust and how will you breathe easy in an environment of hate and fear? Yes, be alert, take no nonsense and give it as good as you can to an offender, but please don`t give us those vibes that we start doubting our very existence.
All I am saying is do take the wrong doers to task, but let the rest be. Don`t escalate the current crusade into an anti-men tirade, fuelling a culture of suspicion, hatred and aversion among both, women and men. The surge against sexual violence will do much good if it stays focused on legal and social sensitization, but degenerating it to a man-woman conflict will defeat the purpose. Let the rapists not be representative of all mankind, let the rest of us be.
(The story was first published on January 10, 2013 in DNA newspaper)