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If You want to stop Rape, Stop Looking Down.

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India is grappling with a pervasive disease, Rapes. Saddled with a plethora of cases, our statics show every day 92 woman are raped in India. The fact that this number does not include domestic sexual abuse, child abuse and rapes that go unreported or unwritten underlines the need of addressing this urgently.

The inflexion point, the watershed case came on 16 December 2012. People took to the streets in large numbers and demanded death penalty for the rapist. It was an unimaginable horrific rape case involving a juvenile. The documentary which came out later on YouTube (India’s Daughter), I noticed there was no sense of shame, remorse or guilt on the face of the bus driver as he went on narrating what they did.  In fact, he had the guts to say, “A decent girl will not be out at 9 o’clock in the night”. The Defense lawyer not only compared but told women they are a ‘FLOWER’ so if she wants to be safe, act accordingly. His sister said she is not like Nirbhaya while the mother of another accused blatantly denied any allegations.

Then the recent video in which a man was seen masturbating from a train’s window to a girl standing on the railway platform while the police officer didn’t seem interested to take any stringent action, only shows where we all are heading.

Now the question arises who is to be blamed for this condition and what is the way forward?

We are definitely going somewhere wrong in our parenting if half of our population doesn’t feel safe in their bodies.

The fact that girls wear a loose shirt when jogging that doesn’t stick to their bodies too much or wears a thick dupatta to come out in the drawing room to avoid prying eyes of the guests, boys, fathers and even grand fathers, first they look at their face and then they look down. One may argue, that one wants to look at a woman more if she is beautiful. But staring that way at a girl younger to you or a woman elder to you or at your peer is not acceptable. It makes a girl so uncomfortable that she doesn’t even wear what she wants to, always wary of someone doing something wrong to her which makes her feel insufficient. What these men do is imagine the woman naked unconsciously in their minds and try to locate their nipples, which snowballs over a long time and manifests into rape. It’s difficult not to notice this, but nobody seems to be talking about the elephant in the room.

Excessive pornography and frequently imagining women this way tends to create systems in their mind. The Rapist has already seen so much virtually that he doesn’t feel any different when he rapes in reality. For him, it’s pornography in reality..nothing much while the girl lives with the stigma for the rest of her life if she is strong enough.

That is why the auto rickshaw driver didn’t help the girl in Bengaluru when a man walked up to her and forced himself upon her in the middle of the road. It’s nothing new to him.

If we want to stop Rape, we have to stop perversion. Men need to learn: A woman is as much a human as they are and she too, deserves the freedom to live safely. We need to take strategic steps otherwise death penalty to some or social media cannot mitigate the occurrence of rapes and our future will be forever clouded in doubt.

So boys, it is imperative you speak when you see a man look down that way because we know you also, like us, are concerned about the safety of your sister and your mother. And girls, it doesn’t matter whether he is your cousin, your father, your grandfather, your uncle, your neighbor or a stranger. Speak straight and be clear. But stop ignoring it. It’s not okay.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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