December 21 came and went and the world did not end. and yet 2012 left most of us feeling numb, pained and frustrated by the violence. This violence is not new, our response to it was. The response was unprecedented and while I felt good that we responded, I do hope that we persevere and sustain the movement.
What I would like to write about is about violence done by us, the near and dear ones … us, who are supposed to protect the children. Day in and day out we are senstitized by the news coverage. Be it in print and through other media about violence on children, women and the weak. And, not just by the men, also by women, by mothers.
Every day there is at least one news report or the other in the newspapers about mothers’ killing their children before taking their own lives, as though the children are an extension of them. As though because they have given birth, they have the absolute right to kill the children because they wish to end their lives. This is violence too and done by the most intimate relationship that a child experiences in the first few years of her life. While there may be circumstances that drive the women to take their own lives, I have often wondered whether they even considered the rights for their children to live.
Similarly are the stories of home where the mother or the significant others are treated with disrespect and violence. Violence is often not physical; disrespect, ridicule and lack of mutuality at home often creates a constructed reality which says “disrespect and violence is ok – for it comes from people who love us or it comes from people against who, we are helpless”.
Home remains the primary socialisation space for most children even till date and if children experience their mothers, sisters and brothers being violated, this is the message they grow up with is that ‘violence in any form is acceptable”.
If we wish to bring in any change, let every mother (and I am specifying mothers here because I believe they have a huge responsibility here) teach their children:
1. to respect their body as a sexual being and not as instruments for subjugation.
2. to raise their voice against touch that they don’t like, even if it is “harmless”.
3. that rape is a violent crime against them and it is not linked to their honour or izzat.
4. that their sense of self worth is not correlated to the violence done to them.
5. that any kind of violence done against them is unacceptable irrespective of its source
6. that any kind of violence done by them onto others (unless it is in self defence) is unacceptable.
7. that freedom comes with responsibility and accountability towards self and towards others.
8. that girls are not burdens of the family – they are equal members with equal rights
9. that boys are not carriers and holders of heritage alone, so are the girls.
10. that it is their birthright to be born, to live, to be fed, to receive education and to be loved and
cherished as a human being in this world.
Let us change while we call for changes in legislation and procedures.