Battling stalkers, the male gaze: HT readers respond to #LetsTalkAboutRape

HT Correspondent, New Delhi: Parents should teach their young sons the importance of respecting women and

men should know that they have no “greater rights”. These are some suggestions readers have sent in response to our series ‘Let’s talk about rape’, for which eight eminent Indians are writing open letters about sexual assault in India.
Actor Farhan Akhtar’s letter to his daughter discussed the “crudity and vulgarity” of Bollywood movies. Boxer Mary Kom’s open letter to her sons recalled the time she was molested.
Here are edited excerpts from the best responses to Akhtar and Kom’s letters:
Nikhil Vaish wants Indian men to be honest about their beliefs
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. The majority of perpetrators of rape and sexual abuse are men.
One in three women worldwide are subjected to rape or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Think about that for a moment – between your mother, sister, wife and daughter, you are likely to know a victim of abuse. This fact alone should be reason enough to raise your voice.
You might ask, as a man what am I to do about it – after all, not all of us are abusive or rapists. But the fact is that the issue goes deeper than just identifying the perpetrator; it is our own attitudes towards women – and I mean the educated, middle class, globetrotting among us. Until we fix the problem of how we treat women, there is precious little they can do to protect against being ill-treated.Be honest. Do you have a problem with your wife smoking, drinking and being loud in public? Do you think the same way when you see a man doing these things? Do you care about how any man dresses? Do you stare? Do you think bringing up your kids is your wife’s responsibility?
Perhaps, you are open-minded and encourage your wife to work. You believe she should have ambitions outside of home. If so, do you also absolve her of the responsibilities within the home. Or better yet, do you believe these should be shared equally?
Every Indian man needs to start challenging and changing deeply ingrained notions we have about women. Many of these are taught from birth, some consciously and others re-enforced through behaviour we see in our own homes, often by women themselves.
But we need to start demolishing this notion that women are second to men. We need to forego our deep-seated fears and accept that women deserve equal rights.The day before while I was reading Farhan Akhtar’s letter to his daughter, I was so engrossed that I could hardly take my eyes off it. It isn’t often that we get to read stuff like these because some people think such issues shouldn’t be talked about in public. Personally, I believe that it’s time we talk about the subject and make everyone aware of the change that is required for you and me.
I am free to talk to my father about every possible thing but that’s not the case everywhere. In many families, daughters don’t get to talk freely to their fathers about things they wish to talk about. In fact, I have read that daughters face sexual harassment at the hands of their fathers. Most women, who are raped, are asked to keep quiet by their own mothers as they think that fighting would not get them justice and bring them more shame.
It’s important that children talk about these things and are aware of the world they live in. This would indeed make them a stronger person. With parents talking about these things, there could be awareness amongst the children because most of the rural or younger women who are raped don’t actually know they have been subjected to rape and that they do not deserve this kind of treatment.
We have to talk about these issues in the family in order to get rid of them and talk about these often.This is going to be the start of the new era when you and I can feel the true essence of life without any fear. We all wish to see the change and we are going to be that for we are the future of this nation.
Pranvesh Yadav says people’s mindset needs to be changed
In the last 69 years, we have only heard that men and women are equal but they have not attained that equality in the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The right to live with dignity is one of the most important rights enshrined in Article 21 ie the right to life and personal liberty. Rape violates the right to live with dignity. The hapless victim of the crime spends her whole life suffocating and cursing herself for being a girl.
Men are conferred with greater rights than women. Men, while committing the heinous crime of rape, forget that a woman has given him birth, that a sister ties rakhi on his hand too on every Rakshabandhan and that he also has a wife. The victim, who is someone’s mother, sister and a wife, hates her life just because of the coward act of some unknown who raped her. It is not an act of courage but the act of cowardliness.
The need of the hour is to change the mindset of men towards women. Women are not some commodity to be used and thrown away and deserve respect and equal status. No law in any country, however strict, can stop rapes from being committed until the mindset is changed.
Kanika Arora speaks out against stalkers
I am a 19-year-old girl. I cover my face every day and wear loose clothes when I go to college. After being stalked for years, I have learned the art of self-preservation. Yes, I am not brave enough to face harassment. I don’t have the courage to stand against stalkers. It is hard to believe that there is light at the end of this dark tunnel when all I could see is failure, injustice, corruption, hatred and anger. A world full of callous, selfish and ungrateful people.
No matter what I say to them, No matter what I do; two eyes always follow my every move.
“Why are you following me? I will complain about this.”
“Have I done anything?”
“Just ignore him”
We all ignore him and wait for him to make a move.
I have lost a lot in this game of waiting and ignoring. I am tired of this and it feels as if only death will be the end of it. Death will fulfill my wish for freedom. Or worse, I will carry these scars on my soul everywhere.