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Right from our childhood, we are taught to be ‘adjusting’ and ‘flexible.’ It’s 2021, and high time we stopped raising our girls like that!
Whenever we hear about cases of rape or sexual assault, we often come across the practice of ‘victim-blaming.’ It basically means we are trying to put the blame of the assault or the rape on the dress, the timing, the gender and even chow mein! But is this phenomenon limited only to such cases?
Let’s look at a few examples to understand this better. Here’s my wider interpretation of how victim-blaming isn’t just limited to cases of sexual assault.
I am very sure all of have had some experience of these or similar scenarios at least once in our lives.
At the age of ten, you are the elder sibling, while your brother is five and he hits you hard. You are told to control yourself, which is pretty understandable. However, years later, despite your brother being a grown man, you are expected to pick up his plate because he is still a ‘little boy’ and will always be younger than you.
You are 15 and are constantly harassed by some relative/family friend about your marks at school. However, as much as you want to say something, you are asked to keep quiet by your family and behave like a ‘sanskaari’ child. The relative/friend who is years older than you continues to badger you and this will continue.
You have been sexually assaulted by some relative and you tell your parents about your ordeal but they ask you to keep quiet. They do so to save the family of the ’embarrassment’ while letting you face all the humiliation and shame (that comes with such situations) in the world.
You’ve met a wonderful guy. He is well-settled and so are you. However, your parents won’t approve of this because you belong to different castes. You are supposed to understand this and protect the family’s ‘izzat’ (honour).
I am sure all of us have seen or faced one or all of these situations in our lives. But what if we look at the same scenarios from a different perspective?
When your brother hits you, your parents call him out for that! They explain to him the importance of not being violent and a thing or two about Mahatma Gandhi and his teachings on the same. At the same time, he is also taught to put away at least his own plates in the sink from a young age.
Your parents encourage you to call out the person badgering you and you take a firm hand. This might not always help the situation but it will definitely stop to an extent when you start speaking your own mind. Also, I think, this would also encourage you to study better than you already do.
When you tell your parents about the assault, they support you and call out the person for his behaviour. If he disagrees, you know you wouldn’t budge from your stand of what you went through. Your parents break all contact with that person and help you cope with your ordeal.
Once you have met the guy, you let them examine him and his family. If he is as good as you believe him to be, your parents ignore the caste system and the orthodox traditions related to it and go ahead with the wedding. After all, their child’s happiness matters more to parents than their ‘izzat’ does.
Wouldn’t life be better if this is how most parents reacted/treated their children? However, societal acceptance and gender norms give a sense of superiority to a person and they find it hard to disassociate from that.
In all of this, it is the child in the family, especially the girl child who suffers the most. We are taught to be more ‘flexible’ and ‘adjusting,’ because ‘how else will you adjust with your in-laws?’ From judging us for keeping the fridge door open for more than 20 seconds to what we wear and how we laugh to the size of our toes, we are judged on all this and more! Despite this, we are expected to accept the judgement and understand where it comes from.
It is time we called our such regressive means and held our heads high. Let’s try not to be submissive but be the people our children aspire to be. And let us try to not copy our mothers’ sufferings and be the people they want us to be. Let us just live.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Piku
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