HOW ‘SAFE’ OR ‘UNSAFE’ ARE WOMEN?

HOW ‘SAFE’ OR ‘UNSAFE’ ARE WOMEN?

The murmurs to debates, shouts and agitated actions related to women’s safety following the spiraling rate of rape incidents in various parts of our country, have come to stay in the air for quite some time now, with no significant respite. Markedly moving outward, these are now no longer confined to mere drawing room discussions or party conversations, with even our young populace being well abreast of these. People, families, factions within communities and institutions have divided opinions on the ‘WHYs & HOWs’ of this issue. Some strongly provide support to women, justifying their protests against sermons, dress codes and other codes of conduct hurled at them while some ironically, defend the plight of perpetuators themselves or at least have a soft corner for them. There are others having a grip over psychology who pin these too ‘bad childhood’, suppressed emotions and so on.

Extended debates deal with governance issues, accountability, the preventive and remedial actions that could be carried out, by whom and how, in order to deal with or avert atrocious crimes. The situation having gone out of control despite efforts at various points in time thus far, it is high time each and every individual, male and female introspects on root causes of this evil beginning from within, guided ably, by trusted care-givers, parents, families and institutions and leaders in immediate circles. Tackling of issues at collective levels therefore, has to also happen at the individual level, infusing the process with tact, patience, introspection, perseverance, determination, while drawing ‘individual’ affirmations forward, to decipher the best course ahead.

Instead of such individual responsibility steadily gainingimportance, this issue has irrespective, managed to add fillip and fuel to the political agenda of various parties contesting prime ruling positions at national levels!A lot of energy gets dissipated through endless debates, and repetitive, negativity-filled discussions. While electronic and print media have inundated our senses with related information, there ought to be corresponding measures to ‘counter-effect’ and curb the negativity that keeps seeping in.

There is definite scope for rampant positive, action-oriented, potent measures to match the need of the hour. Our Government, non-governmental bodies, volunteers and other philanthropic institutions, corporations, resident welfare associations and even individual groups of men and women could collectively brainstorm in locale specific, context-specific ways for making life safer for women, wiping away the paranoia instilled in them, including the tender young ones in the threshold of adulthood. If things were already happening along the above lines, we should be witnessing not only an increased number of ‘good Samaritans’ on the streets with slogans and angry shouts but more of security personnel, patrolling police (including women) personnel and volunteers (including women) deployed as patrolling groups in desolate and high-risk areas; or, other groups distributing ‘pepper-sprays’ or fliers of ‘self-defense’ workshops to women, invitations to ‘courage instilling’ public talks and so on. There would be groups lobbying collectively for civic amenities, including their need for secure, well-lit roads and so on.

Camps organized for educating the public on value systems using street-plays, documentaries, and other simulation methods could ‘supplement’ election results or budgets or sports excerpts being displayed on public screens. These could be organized with the same fervor and as religiously as yoga-camps and other spiritual congregations are done with loudspeaker systems blaring all over our country today. Thanks to technology, we do have some high-prized solutions at least for the elite sections today, but we are not sure if these are commensurateenough with the actual need, or effective enoughin terms of spreading awareness of its functionality for actually bringing down the crime rate.

One school of thought was shared that a network of ‘Rape Crisis Center(s)’ would be the panacea.
The concept, strategy and functionality of such a center is absolutely fine, only that the way such centers are named or referred to, could be more ‘Appreciative’ in nature, reflecting positivity and affirmation in an emphatic manner. For instance, ‘Rape Intervention Center(s)’ or even ‘ Victims’ One-point Swift Rehabilitation Center’ instead, could be suggestive of holistic, prompt and just action put together in a coordinated fashion.

Naming such centers as ‘Rape Crisis Center(s)is analogous to sending shock waves to many of the  young and timid ones who are almost now being groomed with the subtle belief that a woman by birth, is by default, forever unsafe and so, labeled ‘VULNERABLE’. How damaging /unhealthy is this, for her psyche, is a fact perhaps, a crucial point that is totally missed! Naming them ‘RAPE VICTIMS’ JUSTICE CENTER(S)’ would at least exude self-confident articulation of the demand for ‘justice’ and more humane behaviour,  as ‘inhumanity’ is reportedly seeping into the very ‘interventional’ levels meant to be remedial in nature! So right from the level of affliction to intervention, to post-intervention and rehabilitation phases, a humane approach with a liberal mindset is called for. Quite evidently, in many cases, the very interventionists at institutional, community and family member levels themselves turn out to be uncooperative,  inadvertently or otherwise, adding ‘fuel to fire’, making afflicted ones face the direct consequences of the stigma attached to the process which could have life-long repercussions.

Coordinated efforts of individuals and communities federating at various levels with an ‘appreciative’ spirit could remedy many of the ills faced by us today. After all, ‘rape’ is not the stand alone social evil today, and there being many degrees and inter-related heinous dimensions to this evil, the ‘BEST’ course would be to set up easily accessible, well-coordinated, empathetic, reassuring, one-roof, ‘JUSTICE REHABILITATION CENTERS’ for dealing holistically with theaftermath of several crimes faced by women. Functional bifurcations withinthese units could be planned and organized for managing efficiently, the rehabilitation processes in accordance with the occurrence and nature of crime being dealt with.Needless to say, a backing of precautionary measures built up consistentlyalongside, could bring down if not avert the need for interventions altogether.

About the author

Vaidehi Krishnan is the Founder & Managing Trustee of Women’s Synergy, a Delhi-based, registered non-profit Trust for empowering women through synergies and symbiotic relationships among them. She can be reached at vaidehi@womensynergy.org;jvydehi@hotmail.com or 9711073161.  

 

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