I go back to the incident on Jan 29, 2017 in Hinjewadi, IT Park, Pune, where, in an IT firm, a women associate was working late on Sunday evening. She was found murdered in the conference room. A security guard was arrested for the crime. This has set us all thinking and a number of you queried, could this incident be avoided?
A short answer would be YES!!!
But the long answer is: we need to work very hard to get to that state where such incidents can be totally eliminated. The security cams capture the event BUT after the act. All the procedures & processes are in place and YET such incidents happen at regular intervals. What is the matter? Can something be done? Is there NO hope? What’s wrong?
On Mar 08th, International Women’s Day, while I was addressing a group of around 250+ women of an MNC, a number of them queried such and similar issues. I share lessons from the Uniform. The fact I’m alive is due to the Buddy I had and I’m ever thankful to him. Every women must have a BUDDY. In the civvy street, there could be buddies for different occasions; in office, for running, for partying, for trekking. Basically, they should be a pair; the perpetrators are dissuaded and if at all anything happens, the partner can seek help. You go to the washroom, buddy is the drink watcher. You go for movies together. You are together in the office. You need a BUDDY.
This is true for Children too; and we can address the Child Sexual Abuse issue with this. In parks, in playgrounds, in buses, in societies, in schools – every child has a Buddy! This in itself will be one major step in curbing such like incidents.
What else can be done?
Recognize the role of Gender in Violence. While boys and men do experience abuse it is important to remember that the majority of victims of abuse are female and the majority of perpetrators of violence are boys and men. More importantly, Gender Violence is centrally about men. They need to be part of all such conversations. Men need to show courage to stand up and raise their voice, be part of discussions and be sensitive to the issue.
Use social media to spread the word. Express your concern. Raise your voice. More noise we make the energy will get down to everyone and each of us will be gripped by the problem. Just calling it Women’s issue is the major part of the problem. It is centrally about men. So we need more men to be part of these conversations. Spread the word.
Report any abuse/ use/ exploitation of photographs of women/ girls on social media platform. Be media literate and critical of any such issue that comes to your notice. Each drop makes a difference.
Interrupt sexist/homophobic and transphobic language. Words are powerful, especially when spoken by people who have power over others. We have politicians who have come out with such reprehensible remarks. We need to condemn them. Don’t accept such statements. Seek public apology. Gendered name-calling is used and sends a message, that, girls and women are less than fully human. When girls and women are seen as inferior, thus, it becomes easier to treat them with less respect and ignore their rights. Changing the way you speak can change the way you think. Don’t circulate demeaning messages. Don’t share. Have the courage to stand up and say so.
Interrupt abuse. If you see a man get physical with a girl, say something to stop him from continuing to be abusive. If you are at a party and one of your peers or friends is intoxicated and being led away by a guy[s] stop him from being alone with her and help her get home. Help avoid such situations where they are vulnerable to exploitation.
Stop street harassment. Don’t engage in any forms of sexual harassment, such as catcalling, and unwanted touching. And don’t let your friends and peers engage in those behaviours either! It’s not just enough that you don’t engage in those behaviours, be empowered to speak up against friends and peers who do! Don’t look the other way!
Stop Victim Blaming. Don’t blame women/ girls for how they choose to dress or judge their behaviour. Violence can’t be prevented through limiting the freedoms of girls. This only allows the violence to continue because perpetrators become invisible, and those who witness remain silent. It is their choice and as long as they exercise the choice by full import of its repercussions, take adequate precautions, and choose. Men cannot take this as an excuse to pass the blame.
Stop Rape Culture. One way to stop rape culture is by not allowing people to perpetuate rape culture through minimizing/normalizing rape through jokes. When a friend or peer tells a joke about being violent against women/girls in some way, say you don’t find it funny and let them know that it is not okay. It’s NOT OK!! Period.
Educate yourself on the roots of violence. Violence against women/girls stems in a patriarchal society, where men have overbearing control. Create safe spaces to discuss gender violence. Create an after office club/group where you can openly discuss your views and experiences and support your peers. Educate people around you. Sensitize your workforce. Confront yourself/your ideas. Reflect on your beliefs and why you have those beliefs and your actions, and opinions. Be honest and admit your faults and commit to changing the way you think and act.
Stop stereotyping men’s and women’s roles-Social roles and expectations may affect a man’s decisions about relationships. Men are taught that expressing feelings is not masculine. Examining your social role and learning ways to express feelings directly and non-violently can help to create deeper and more meaningful interpersonal relationships. You don’t have to prove yourself.
Be Supportive. When women tell you about violence they have experienced in their lives believe them. It is extremely rare for girls to make up a story about rape or abuse. You may be the first and only person she tells. Believe her and support her decisions, without being judgmental. Parents need to be approachable. The scar of such incidents can last life-long. You need to understand and reduce the pain. Don’t victimize her. She didn’t ask for it.
Talk to others about ending violence and be a mentor. Volunteer your time to preventing violence by speaking to others. This brings awareness to the issue, which will motivate others to act. Understand consent. Boys and young men need to be respectful when entering into a sexual relationship and should not feel entitled to girls and women’s bodies. Just because you are a ‘nice guy’ does not mean you should have any expectations. Like Thordis Elva mentions, I trusted Tom (Stranger). They had come to know each other when Tom came to Iceland on a Student exchange program. Like a knight in shining armour, he took her home, when she was intoxicated. Laid her on her bed and raped her.
Remember gender violence is not an individual issue. We all have a role in ending violence against girls and women and it is important that we all take responsibility in ending the violence. As a society, we need to mature and respect every human being.
This is a crusade and we need to be part of this scourge of Gender Violence.
We can make a DIFFERENCE . Raise your VOICE . Make your voice COUNT .