While our society is struggling with the increasing rape culture in India, an incident like Bois Locker Room is a living nightmare for many parents. The screenshots of chat showing 15-18 years-old boys discussing gang-raping women give a signal to why our society is struggling with rape culture.
Many people, including celebrities, have come forward to express their anger about the incident. Shahid Kapoor’s wife, Mira Rajput, also took to Instagram to express her feelings about the ongoing controversy. She shared journalist Rega Jha’s essay, which was written three years ago for Buzzfeed but was posted on social media by Rega after the Bois Locker Room incident.
In her empowering note to parents raising sons, Rega mentioned:
“Girls, Think of the hundreds of dictums you know by heart: Don’t dress provocatively. Don’t stay out late. Don’t travel alone at night. Don’t take public transportation after sundown. Get a male friend to drop you home. Don’t stay late at work. Don’t smile at strangers. Carry a scarf. Don’t take that dark road. Pepper spray. Don’t drink too much. Cover up. Keep someone on the phone while you walk. Be careful, be careful, be careful. The unspoken, deadly suffix on each instruction is: or else. And the implication is that if you are assaulted, you weren’t careful enough. It’s on you.”
Sharing how Indian girls’ parents are not to be blamed for the restriction, she further added:
“I don’t blame my parents. I don’t blame any Indian woman’s parents. Our parents mean well. For an Indian woman, this isn’t a world worth trusting. We’ve all heard their sheepish defense for the restrictions they place. We trust you. We don’t trust the world. And, they are right. Headlines have reminded us month after month – that, for an Indian woman, this isn’t a world worth trusting. It could be, if Indian boys were raised with even half as much deliberation as daughters in India are subject to. Half as much instruction, restriction, caution. But the freedoms in an Indian boy’s upbringing are absolute. Since sexual assault isn’t seriously considered a daily threat to boys, it isn’t even brought up. But ultimately, parents raising daughters can’t end sexual assault. They can only issue warnings and hope for the best from a world they don’t trust. Parents raising sons, on the other hand, hold all the power to change the world.”
In the end, she has a humble request for every Indian parent raising sons:
“So, if you’re raising a boy in India, consider this a plea. Our lives are in your hands.Instead of our parents teaching us caution, start teaching your sons consent. Instead of our parents teaching us fear, start teaching your sons respect. Teach your sons about gender equality. Teach your sons what “No” means. (Hint: It means no.) Teach your sons that they aren’t entitled to any woman’s body, attention, or time.
Instead of our parents teaching us modesty, teach your sons about personal space. Instead of our parents teaching us to avert gazes, teach your sons not to stare. Teach your sons about healthy masculinity, healthy romance, and healthy sexual relationships. Teach your sons to be enraged by rape, assault, and crimes against all women, not just women they can process as wives, mothers, and sisters. That all people, of all genders, warrant equal respect.
Your little boy will watch movies in which the hero gets the girl by stalking and harassing her. Teach your sons that what they’re witnessing is a crime. Teach your sons that love is built, not coerced. That sex is agreed upon, not taken.
Fathers, your sons will learn how to treat women from how you treat women. Demonstrate respect. Demonstrate equality. Teach your sons that it is manly to educate other men in equality, too. Teach your sons how to express emotion. That violence is not an option. That nobody, no matter what they’re wearing or drinking, “deserves” or “asks for” it.
Instead of our parents teaching us to be wary of men, raise your sons to be men who don’t need to be feared.Nobody “deserves” or “asks for” it. Instead of our parents teaching us how to avoid assault, teach your sons that it is unforgivable to assault women. Instead of our parents teaching us how to navigate an untrustworthy world, teach your sons to change it.”
At IFORHER, we have no intention to blame the parents who are raising sons. Rather, through this post, we want to inspire and celebrate every Indian parent who understands their responsibility in making our society safer for women. So if you are taking a small step every day by raising your son right, we want to thank you. And, here’s a salute for your efforts. You are no less than a HERO!