Breeding the Violator
The recent gangrape in Delhi and the demise of the young girl has created demands for death for the accused, and more police on the streets and the buses. It is possible we may need to ask whether the solution lies in having more authoritative mechanisms to deter violators or whether we can do something about breeding them in the first place.
The use of the word Violators instead of rapists is intentional. To address the root cause we may need to look at the mindset that generates acts of violation against society in various forms. The politician who violates our national revenues, the film director with the casting couch, the teacher taking advantage of a position of trust, are all examples of violators differing only in degree of response from the rapists. The mindset is similar and we could look at changing this mindset.
Violation of a child in the home, in the school, or within a religious institution is rarely reported for many reasons, hence we are really seeing the tip of the violative iceberg. However, the act of violating is also a matter of opportunity and of probability. Not all those with the mindset of violators end up violating even if they have the opportunity. As more women take up their rightful place in society more opportunities for violation will be generated. We have to reduce the probability of violation. That probability is intimately linked to the mindset of the violator and the mindset of our society.
So what creates the mindset of the sexual violator? Lets look only at the home, the school and our society.
WHAT ENHANCES THE POTENTIAL FOR VIOLATION
Evolution ensures through reproduction that the human race continues to exist. Hence, there is a natural tendency for the male to be the aggressor and the female to be a source of attraction. However, as we emerged from the Stone Age our society imbued us with processes of self regulation that modulated our instincts. Unlike our innate tendencies this is more of a taught and learned process largely through the development of a “culture” of social behavior. However, self regulation may not be learned by many in our society while we struggle with providing basic education to all.
Children are today becoming sexually mature at an increasingly younger age, but the age of marriage is probably rising. What do young people do to manage the powerful reproductive forces within their bodies? We could engage them in sports, or we could make their studies more meaningful. At the other extreme we could legalize prostitution. There is no instant solution to the problem of violators but there is the scope for reducing the exploitation of opportunities for violation.
Male child dominance
Very often the mother who gives that slightly greater helping of Dal to the male child sends the female child a subtle message that this is how life is.
Tolerance by the mother of abuse
Many of our homes are punctuated by violations that vary from verbal abuse to sexual abuse. Historically, the mother has been the nurturer and the father the provider, hence tolerance of abuse was a reality the mother had to accept in return for provision. Today, the outpouring of protest from men and women on the streets of Delhi implies that many men can be partners in a process of change. At times like this it only needs a small number - a critical mass of 10% to 15%, as reform can be infectious - to become the vanguard of a new order. Older women, and women in power, and mothers will have to recognize the opportunity, divest themselves of old world inertia and take on the mantle of protectors.
Destroy to possess
When we cut a flower or cage a bird we innocuously connect the idea of beauty to the idea of possesion - to possess a thing of beauty. Not all adults are stimulated to proceed from this to become violators but if we can teach our children to admire a bird in the wild, or the flower on the plant, it becomes a culture that may one day mean the difference between whistling at a beautiful woman and violating her.
Abuse in the home and the school
Very often our homes and our schools are venues for abuse. As the phenomenon is more public in our schools we hear more about it. Some estimates of child abuse indicate that 50-70% of children are abused at home or in school.
Sexual abuse is about power not sex. Given the stratifications of our society developed sometimes over thousands of years, it is perhaps inevitable that crimes such as rape will proliferate in resentment against the changing of the old order.
Opportunities present themselves because people look the other way or power differentials are too large for the victim to protest. Opportunities can also be perceived by women dressing a particular way or being in insecure circumstances. The fact that rape happens speaks to the quality of our society more than the quality of policing.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
In the end, crime has to be prevented by the quality of our society not by security forces on our streets. Policemen and other security personnel are open to all the factors we have spoken of here. When we have excessive security we also have crime without redress. The Army in Kashmir is often accused of that. In that sense policing has to be iconic rather than all controlling.
Create an open culture
We could allow young children to gradually begin to mix freely, to be taught to respect their own and each other's bodies, and eventually understand their right as competent adults to do with them what they mutually want, and to engage in overt affectionate behaviour. We would need to ask ourselves what is the upside and what is the downside. The downside is clearly a less rigorous sexual morality, possibly more teen pregnancies, even some exploitation of children by each other, and of course less control by the male head of the family.
The upside is far fewer violations in the home, the school and incidents of rape in our society. None of these changes will take place overnight but will do so inexorably. The greatest impact will come when children brought up in these circumstances become parents and start creating an environment where children are protected and begin to explore their own identity and their sexuality in a responsible, socially acceptable way.
In the end, we have to mould our society so that it provides us the compromises that we find acceptable, not as men or women, or as people of a particular faith, but as a people who wish to live in a community which lives by the rules we all find acceptable.