We must rethink the pull factors that are prompting the lowlifes to jump on the rape bandwagon defying all social norms and laws
The idea of waking up in a beautiful morning just to glance through yet another news of rape in the national dailies committed in the most macabre way has turned into the new normal. It seems we are made of steel as even a rogue virus like Covid-19 could not mend our ways and instill the right values in some of us, let alone soul enlightenment.
According to Ain o Salish Kendra, a non-government, civil rights and legal aid organisation, 632 rape incidents took place in Bangladesh between April and August this year. This means that on average four women have been raped every day in the last five months despite the havoc that the Covid-19 pandemic caused on public lives during the timeframe.
Such a staggering number of rape incidents within such a short period clearly points out the fact that the aberrant attitude of the malefactors cannot be controlled through our lectures any more. Human chains and demonstrations organised every now and then to express solidarity with the rape victims and denounce the rapists are not going to bear fruits as far as moral rectification is concerned.
Instead we should put our finger on what went terribly wrong with our society. We must rethink the pull factors that are prompting the lowlifes to jump on the rape bandwagon defying all social norms and laws.
First of all, part of the responsibility goes to the way we define our social expectations and determine how cross-sections of people living in the society should behave. As we are still driven by the tenets of patriarchy, society as a whole (families in a narrower sense) leaves no stone unturned to teach girls different lessons to avoid sexual harassment.
On the other hand, we never flip the side and make any attempt to teach the boys to practice sexual abstinence or not to rape or harass a woman sexually. When it comes to addressing the issues related to sexual assault, parents and our society in a broader sense are more eager to teach girls about the perils of roaming around freely rather than teaching boys to respect women and consider them as individuals, not objects.
Secondly, despite the fact that religion does not permit any kind of sexual indulgence, religious preachers or imams rarely raise their voice against such an abominable practice that is going on in an unbridled way in the society. It is true that the sermons delivered during the Jumma prayer on Friday influence the thought-process of pious Muslims. But our clerics hardly address pressing issues like rape and violence against women in their sermons.
I have personally attended many of these sermons and found them uttering maledictions against those using Facebook and smartphones. I never heard them issuing warning against those committing detestable acts like rape or preaching about the stern punishment as delineated in Islam for sins such as rape.
They are always dictating how the girls should dress up, but never giving a sermon about controlling men's wandering eyes full of lust. This is antithetical to the basics of Islam. Had there been more preaching on heinous acts such as rape and the aftermaths of aberrant attitude, the situation in our society could have been different.
Culture of impunity is to be held accountable in the third place and this is probably the strongest factor that is compounding the situation. Incidents of rape are increasing at an abnormal rate owing to the fact that offenders are hardly brought to book rather they are allowed to roam around free.
Even the whole process of justice being served to the victim is very thorny and consequently, rape continues unabated mainly because of the inactions on the part of the government and the law-enforcing agencies. Nowadays, the promise of justice to be served to the victim and punishment to be meted out to the perpetrators sounds so cliché.
The grim reality is that women are being stereotyped in our society, right from the objectification of her body to the denial of her very existence in the society, and the power of women is diminished in many ways by their male counterparts. That is why incident like rape keeps repeating itself.
Under such circumstances, the only way out of this dystopia without losing sight of our goals as a society is probably to divert our attention from educating our girls about dress codes and decency to clipping the boys' wings. Potential threats should be controlled, not the targets.
And it is clear as day that it is those libidinous people who are a threat to harmonic living, and they are to be kept within the line. The time is ripe for giving notion like 'reverse-stereotyping' a serious thought if we really want to keep the beast in check where the society would play the role of a panopticon.
Meanwhile, lawmakers should think about giving teeth to the existing laws in order to put an end to all kinds of violence against women.