Indian men on women: In their own words – Madhya Pradesh

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‘A male friend of mine was raped by men in Delhi. Forget women, I am scared to be out alone in Delhi at night’
Tejas Jain, 23, Indore
IT Engineer; handles family business
What do you think of the Delhi bus gang-rape case? What shocked you more – the rape or the violence of them ripping out her intestines?
The sad thing is that this particular incident is not very new. As gruesome as it is, these things have been happening around us. I live in Indore, in MP. There was a case, not 200kms from here where a woman was gangraped by 13 men. And around 11 cops who came to ‘rescue’ her, raped her again. But with everything, there comes a tipping point. Such as the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria. I don’t know why this particular case is our tipping point but it is.
Why do you think so many rapes and sexual assaults happen in India? What are the main reasons?
In my opinion, India has become this awful blend of tradition and western culture. We conveniently adopt things from the world, imitating only what we want. But there is no steady education to keep pace with that. For example, we see women as highly sexual objects now. But gender awareness is lacking.
Do you think this happens more in big cities and less in small towns? Do you think “modern culture” is responsible for this?
Definitely not. I live in mid-sized city. I see what happens here, it is no different from metros. I will, however, say that women in towns and villages sometimes know how to tackle men better. If a man is beating his wife, she’ll fight back. But then there are smaller towns in UP and Haryana where women are coerced into obeying a man’s will.
Many people feel women’s freedom is responsible for the rise in sexual crime. Do you agree?
I don’t. A woman never asks for it. Imagine a bunch of men in a group. If nothing else, they will be visual rapists in the way they will look at women. There is blatant disregard. A man thinks that the way to get a girl is to harass her, that idea is deeply impregnated in our minds. I blame some of that on these movies we see. Women have to be respected. But it is beyond my comprehension why this mentality has come about.
Are you comfortable with women getting freedom? What are the freedoms you would be comfortable with for your sister/girlfriend/wife?
I am comfortable with freedoms. Of course, the way things stand now, I would take precautions and advice. You have to be careful. You live in a dangerous city, so you cannot go out alone late at night.
Do you think Indian women have enough freedom or should they in fact get more freedom?
Women should have more freedom. It is the man’s responsibility to understand that they are his equals and deserve the same freedom and respect. The fact is that men do not consider them equal contenders in most things. For example, in my social circle a guy will be completely surprised if a girl gets through IIM instead of him.
What do you think should be men’s attitude towards women? Do you feel there is anything wrong in the general Indian man’s attitude towards women?
I think there is something very wrong with the general Indian male attitude towards women, and that is inculcated right from childhood. Compare the way a brother and sister are brought up in the same household. The boy will inevitably be questioned less, bound less, and in many cases be favoured more. It starts with families. That’s where you learn to respect and disrespect, and to see women as lesser beings.
What were you taught to think about women in your own family? Do you think women should have equal freedom as men? Has your thinking changed in any way as you have grown up and been exposed to other ways of thinking?
I have four cousin sisters who have always been more pampered than I was. My family has many strong independent minded female figures including my mother. It’s very women-centric that way. But from the people I come across, I learnt that all households are not the same. A few days ago I met this guy who blamed the victim of the Delhi gangrape. He said that she must have been making out with the boy in the bus, so how could the other men control themselves. My simple question to him was how do you even know that. He said that is was obvious, what else could it be?
Lots of women today are comfortable with their sexuality. Do you think this is good or bad for society?
What is so bad about women asserting their sexuality? How does that negatively impact the society? Why shouldn’t a woman do what she pleases to with her own body? It’s about a basic respect for human life, which is what we lack in India. It’s not just women, life isn’t valued here.
Have you ever seen violence against women in your own family — sisters/mothers/wives being beaten?
No, but I have seen it with men. A male friend of mine was raped by men in Delhi. No one is free wherever they are. Forget women, I am scared to be out alone in Delhi at night.
If any woman/girl in your family told you she had been molested by someone within the family or outside, how would you react?
I do not know what exactly I would do, but I can say that I wouldn’t let the incident just die. Somehow, I would work to get justice done.
Would you like to take up the issue or protect the family or woman’s honour? What do you think makes it difficult to take up issues of sexual abuse?
It’s difficult to talk about these things. The victim’s trust in her own family is gone. Who do you go to? It takes courage to talk about what happened. There is a culture of silence, as very often women are fighting with themselves about whether they can talk about their abuse or not. So silence does make it harder to address issues of abuse.
What is your concept of a modern successful woman?
Maybe someone who can stand up for herself in all walks of life. Who is neither scared nor controlled by men, such as her father or brother or husband.
What is your concept of an ideal man — in terms of how he deals with women?
Someone who can respect, not just women, but all life, be it human, animal or plant. Respect life, and nature.
Will you be comfortable in the knowledge that your sister/daughter has a ‘boyfriend’?
Well, yes.
There is so much discussion about rape in the country today, how do you think this problem could be solved? What sensitisation do you think is needed?
People have to be responsible for their actions. Women are not objects for sex, violence or household chores. That is the major change in people’s mindsets that we need to bring about. Create awareness, through education on that. Our society has gone haywire. It can be fixed but it is a long process. The rigidity of an orthodox societal mentality has to go. Media, cinema, TV, music, they have to own up to the responsibility they have in the way they project women. Turn on the TV, you see women decked up in saris sitting it home plotting and fighting all day. That’s what people grow up watching. These are the things we need to fight.