It is the age of counting and tabulating s*xual offenses. What is going wrong with people, not only women but also children are getting targeted to satisfy carnal greed. The hands of lust and crime get extended towards women in buses, trains and everywhere. The stories of offenders are celebrated in TV channels and news papers in a colorful manner. It has become a common trend to even inflate trivial incidents, like a nod or sitting next to a woman, and publish experiences of so called victims to paint the entire male population as criminals. This is the strange age of portraying all men as ‘hunters’ and women as their ‘preys’. Such incidents are increasing on a daily basis like never before.
Up until the beginning of this century, ‘harassment’ was not a word that was considered as harmful as it is today. Making people work overtime forcefully, not paying salary etc were the common definitions of harassment that we heard earlier in those days. But now, all of a sudden this word become a villain.
Later on, there has been a shift in the definition of this word into ‘Satanic deeds, both hidden and in open, of hyper-s*xual men‘. Now harassment has become a common word to express this and even to describe incidents that doesn’t have the merits and ingredients of s*xual harassment. Even petty eve teasers whom we can discipline by a sharp counter comment are getting portrayed as big assaulter to add fuel into the fire. Heroines of such stories were glamorized as super angels and men gets portrayed as hyper evil. Criminal cases are lodged and men gets defamed simply based on sole testimony of women; social status of his entire family gets irretrievably sabotaged, some get punished, some commit suicide.
These petty issues can be easily solved by being responsive and by having a little bit of guts. It has become so common now to criminalize, defame and bring big punishment to men just for a tiny touch, for winking or for showing bodily gestures. It could be a foolish move at the heat of the moment, but fearing the defamation if a man commit suicide, based on which law can we punish that woman? When people travel together in trains, buses, planes or in busy streets it is possible to touch, brush or stare at each other. Those women are recommended to restrain from drumming it up and make a mountain out of mole hill. If the matter is silly enough to sort it out by themselves isn’t it wise to do so, as opposed to putting foot in their own mouth. Is it necessary to file a law suit for silly things and run around the courts bragging about modesty? Before crying rape or harassment it is wise to pay attention to the future of the accused as well, they do not have any opportunity to give explanation, they are getting punished just based on the sole testimony of a woman.
I’m a person who run my own venture outside Kerala for about two decades. I used to travel alone in buses and trains during day time and in night as well. I’m a kind of person who instantaneously responds to such approaches made by men. First I respectfully ask them to move their hands, or to move themselves or to stop the conversation. If that fails then I tell them affirmatively; and that’s it. Never had any problem after that, in my experience. Even now I am not scared to travel anywhere. I am confident enough to respectfully deal with any sort of assaulter. If you want you can yell at them, that’s the second option; if the problem is not getting resolved I’m even up to slapping them with the sandels. But in my life time I never had to go to that extent. Because I got a feeling that, if we are responsive to the initial moves of assaulter then 90% of them immediately back off.
There may be people who are consciously luring women and forcefully try to outrage her modesty; I would call them perverts, alcoholics or drug addicts. They might be taking these extreme steps when they feel high on drugs or alcohol. There are some others who carefully plan and trap the victim. I don’t think there will be any difference in opinion to give stringent punishment to those who do such heinous crime. Even capital punishment is way too simple penalty for offenders as in Soumya murder case. I just cannot agree to the trend of inflating silly issues which can easily be sorted out in the first place, had those women handled the situation little more boldly.
Historically, film industry used to be the zone of harassment for women. Those who jump into that field used to get exploited by many, in order to get small roles and some even find path to heroines as well. I’ve heard of such stories from many kins. Here also the criteria for harassment are classified in to two. One party is willing to get exploited in return of a good role in the movie and the other party is willing to give good role to those who are willing to give away their modesty. A Win-Win scenario, there was no complaints from both the parties. But as film industry moved from Kodambaakam to Kerala, things started changing. Now a days we do not here such stories anymore. But that doesn’t mean this willful and bilateral exploitation cease to exist. However, to my knowledge, there has been a greater control and discipline in that sector which raised the level of respect to that field and thereby people from good family background and having good education started choosing their profession in film field.
Those who are seeking a chance in the movie and associated field are making a conscious decision by considering the hidden traps involved in it. Some move on even if they get trapped; makes more money and opportunities. In most industries there are people who are willing to compromise something for more comfort and luxury. Some of them easily succumb to temptations too. No matter whatever the reasons are, once the opportunities are utilized after making compromises and then at a later point when the secrets are out these people act like innocents by crying rape. Those who consciously seek pleasure under the cover of darkness, wear the mask of innocent victims when the light turns up. When this happens, everyone points their finger to the man and the woman easily step back behind the facade of great sati savitry and gathers all sympathy.
These kind of women are not ‘abalas’, they are ‘tabalas’; anyone can play it, only thing is when the tune goes odd, it will becomes rape. No one bothers to ask the woman that “did you intimate us while you find your own way to happiness?” Instead of that, they go in front of the cameras and microphones to abuse the man in question and the entire male population to prove themselves guilt free. We can find these ingredients in most of the rape stories in Kerala. Here the girl stays with many people in hotels and other resorts for several days. They stay in Mumbai or Hyderabad or Chennai or other places and do their business. They travel along with their ‘preys’ to different places. Gain enough and more money for the pleasure they provide. In some cases, they get help to reach these centers even from their close relatives like father brother and friends. But, after a long period of business when the matter goes out in public, in one way or the other, they file cases against everyone who utilized her service. Even here, the sole testimony of the woman is what getting counted. No one bothers about why this woman choose that way of life or about her background. She wasn’t blind folded or hands and legs tied when she was staying in these different hotels and resorts for several days. She happily cooperated and made enough money those days. Even when she was consciously traveling with everyone and selling herself as a product, all the consumers of that product become criminals base on her sole testimony! As if in trance, she utters several names, they all become accused in the law suit. In one of the infamous case in Kerala, the woman accused over 150 people. No one bothers to find the logic behind this accusation, neither they bother to double check the involvement of her family in this. Only the woman become innocent and every other person in the accused list are painted as hard core s*x offenders. Their social, family and personal life gets sabotaged.
There should be change in the way of women wearing jeans that clearly shows the division of buttock, wearing skin tight dresses, not wearing bra or wearing those that do not serve the purpose of a bra and making it bounce and dance on the streets, or making it artificially projected. Women should cover the parts that needs to be covered and should not make those parts a tattoo gallery. We would have avoided a lot of harassment cases, had those women quit wearing skin tight or less dresses in the name of fashion; wouldn’t we? Isn’t the way of dressing a temptation for the offenders?
There had been ‘apsaras’ who danced half nude to break the meditation of great saints. Now its a whole different version of the same, by showing off the naval and uncovering style of dressing; a way of exhibition. It sends out the signal that, “we will show all these; if you watch it or get excited we will make you punished”. So, men beware. Its not the girls who do this are getting mad by saying this; its some radical feminists. They claim that no one should question the freedom of woman’s right to wear whatever they want and such inappropriate dressing will not make any temptation and all these arguments are baseless. I feel pity on them. We all have seen how serious they took the comment of the chairperson of National Commission for Women, “its okay to call women ‘s*xy’” and come out to protest. I got a feeling that there will be drastic change in the meaning of the word ‘s*xy’, the same way as what happened for the word ‘harassment’. There was big hue and cry in Tamilnadu when actress Khusbu mentioned that no one should question what happened in the life of a woman before marriage. In a nutshell what worries them more is the discussion, not the actual deed that leads to the discussion.
Apparently, those who get tempted and get harassed are both men. There is no bias to a monk, priest, legislator or a social worker when it comes to the matter of placing on the pedestal of harassment, its always men. Without considering the limits of the income, husbands are forced to take more loans and are getting pushed to the edge of suicide to buy more home appliances and other luxuries so as to match or show off among neighbors friends and relatives. Aren’t such men indeed harassed, who are simply attempting to satisfy their wives? Isn’t this a kind of domestic violence that men faces? When money and comfort flows with no obstacles and if unfortunately that flow stops, then he becomes a villain at once and gets prosecuted.
The violence and harassment that men faces are always priced very low or nil. Wives who drag their paramours without the knowledge of their husband; women who attempt secret intercourse with young paramours even after having kids and family, in the end they ditch their husbands and kids and run away with their young paramours for temporary pleasure. In all these cases the one who gets prosecuted are only the men. Isn’t that harassment of a husband when he gets socially humiliated and ridiculed for his wife’s affair with another man? Here as well, women never gets accused, everyone gives her the security of modesty. There are women who are capable of killing even the prime minister of a country using bomb. When she gets pregnant in the jail she is entitled to special privileges as a woman and is granted with appropriate treatment. When it comes to men, just because he cant get pregnant he has to count days for the capital punishment.
It is not appropriate for women to simply ask for equality just by claiming as the significant other half of men; punishment and legal processes should also be equal. We have heard a lot about what women are going through with domestic violence. But, does anyone ever take it on face value about the domestic violence that men face other than as a joke?
Prassoon Suryadas, plays only a role of translator in this article. The original article is written in Malayalam by Ms. Jyothi Sunil and published in Mathrubhumi daily.
An intimation has been given to the Editor of Mathrubhumi about this translation. If the tone and taste of the original article is misplaced during the translation, that is unintentional and will be rectified upon request.