Independence comes with freedom. Freedom of thought, expression, speech and so on. But with freedom and independence come greater responsibilities. This Independence Day, let’s introspect on whether we feel genuinely free as a society, or if we’re being enslaved or somewhat victimized by the burden of these responsibilities? More pointedly, do women in our country feel safe?
From recent spate of crime against women, the picture appears to be quite sorry. But, we are here not to talk about the problems, rather about the solutions that we can implement and execute at our own level.
Here are some qualities that parents must take it upon themselves to inculcate in their children, particularly in young boys:
1. Self Respect: Honour is synonymous with manhood in a lot of cultures. Charity begins at home and we should set an example for our kids and build a code of honour in our houses. Once we’ve set the right precedent, our kids will not only learn to respect themselves, but also have a sense of deference towards the others’ sense of being. More importantly, the shame associated with the loss of this perceived ‘honour’ should serve as a big deterrent to aberrant behavior.
2. Sex Education: Sex is not all about pleasure, nor is it solely driven by lust. Our male children should be taught to approach this mostly taboo subject with care, making them aware of the fact that sex is a ‘team sport’ – there can be no pleasure or safety for one, without pleasure and safety for the partner. Having lived under a rock of denial for decades, it’s finally time to be vocal about sex – in the right way!
3. Listening: Young boys should be taught to listen. Indian society is largely male-centric, often at the cost of the female. For this inherent mindset to change, men, at a very young age, should be educated to give a patient ear to different points of view. Listening develops empathy and compassion, qualities that would go a long way in sensitizing men to the problems faced by women.
4. Think before you act: Being inquisitive is good, but acting on impulse isn’t always the recommended plan of action. Teaching our children to pause and reflect before succumbing to the moment is something that should be top priority for parents – and not just in terms of women’s safety.
5. Say no to peer pressure: A substantial number of cases of atrocities against women take place under peer pressure. The most telling illustration of this is the horrific ‘Nirbhaya’ rape case in which a minor, under the influence of his senior companions, participated in a crime that shook the whole country. Increasingly, it is the need of the hour for parents to ensure their children use their discretion to separate right from wrong, and not give in to negative influences, however alluring they might be.
6. Being sensitive: Women are physiologically different from men. They have their own biological needs and requirements. Boys should be sensitized at a tender age to these cardinal differences between the sexes.
7. Condemn disrespect: It is important to stand up for ourselves and for others. This takes courage and conviction as it is easy to get lost in the crowd and turn a blind eye to what’s happening around us. At a young age, boys should be taught to take a stand and extend a helping hand when they are in a position to do so.
8. Learn about healthy boundaries: While cinema and media are doing their best to blur social lines between the sexes, there are boundaries that remain inviolable. These should be made aware to boys at a young age, in terms of what is sound and unsound behavior when dealing with girls. Obviously, how one is with one’s guy friends is not the way one can be with one’s girl friends – this has to be firmly ingrained in the minds of our younger generation.
9. Positive communication: Like in all relationships, there are bound to be confrontations and arguments between men and women. In such scenarios, children should be taught to adopt effective communication instead of trying to –being physically at an advantage – bully their way through an interaction. Humility and modesty is essential as is a previously-mentioned point – listening.