Being Women

College Gangrape Exposes Security Lapses: Need For Empowerment Of Youth

News report of a college gangrape raises the need for a broader approach to safety education. This includes physical strength, using your voice, and questioning lax security.

Newspaper – Fading impact

With limited access to books decades ago, most of our generation picked up languages from impressionable educators or newspapers. Yet, today, the keenness and allure of looking at the papers have dimmed. With the election scene warming up considerably with each passing day, there isn’t much to print these days.

College Gangrape _ A Shocking Headline

One morning, as I bundled up the carelessly ruffled pages, stacking them into an orderly pile, three words glared back in bold. “Lax Security! College Campus! Gangraped”. With a college-going son, I was concerned and curious. The news piece that followed was heartbreaking as a mother, worrying as a woman, and shameful as a citizen of the world’s largest democracy. An eighteen-year-old girl had been horrifically gang-raped within the college premises in broad daylight.

“What?” I said it out loud. Is this where we stand after seventy-six years of independence?

Unimaginable horror

More than anger and annoyance, fear enveloped me. With every political outfit in a race to outdo the others and win over ministerial responsibilities, aren’t we ashamed of such crimes? What struck me is that the crime happened while the college was in progress in broad daylight. It is a private college that has private security to check for trespassing. Unbelievable! The magnitude of this crime is difficult to overcome, as it tarnishes the sanctity of an educational institution.

Urgent need for change

I continued tracking the incident as it shifted from the front page to the last before disappearing from the horizon. What will be the outcome of the investigation? Will the criminals be brought to justice? The questions are haunting as they slip into the subconscious, peeking out now and then. The parental instinct pushes me into an introspection of what more we can do to make our children aware. No, it isn’t about cautioning the daughters alone. Rather, it is about creating awareness for both genders and the long-lasting effects of this crime, not just on the individual and their family but on society and the nation as a whole.

What I would begin doing –

Emphasis on physical and mental strength

Encouraging both girls and boys to develop physical strength through any form of exercise or sport. As social and digital media wade through our homes, enabling as well as disabling, the focus on physical strength is dwindling. Encourage youngsters to bond with the outdoors. Pick up any physical movement that energises and strengthens the body. Martial arts are a good choice too to bring in flexibility and core strength. The need is to be able to develop resistance to give an initial fightback in a difficult scenario. Be able to throw over the opponent and scream for help.

Power of Voice

Using the power of voice. There is a possibility that, in a hurtful situation, the panic triggers a loss of awareness of our inner strength. Physical strength will give you the confidence to use reflex movements while keeping you aware of channelling all your inner strength to shout and scream. The key here is that the use of voice is not just to ask for help but also to weaken the opponent.

Need for mindfulness

Encouraging youngsters to practice mindfulness breathing. A simple and effective technique to internalise the strengths and cushion the weaknesses, not allowing them to permeate the subconscious and fuel fears.

Questioning laxity

Most of us live with acceptance. Once I was aware of this, I began pushing myself to ask questions. Question laxity and non-adherence in every form. Whether it is a scenario like people jumping into a queue or brushing into personal space, don’t let anything pass by like normal. If, as parents and educators, we can begin this conditioning from an early age, there is still hope of preventing crimes like gang rape and molestation.

Questioning while looking into the eyes of the person opposite opens up an awareness of strengths. I spent many years in the city of joy, Kolkata, for education. As we stepped into trams, buses, and metro-rail, everywhere ladies’ seats were reserved. I learned questioning there when I witnessed women walk up to men occupying the seats earmarked for them. Soon, I too was doing that. The sense of adherence was so strong that sometimes other men asked the occupants to vacate their seats.

Onus on keeping everyone safe

The trend is to educate women on how to keep themselves safe. While this is an extremely essential element, it is now time we begin education on a broader spectrum, calling it ‘How to keep everyone around you safe?’ From basic first aid to calling police control rooms, it should be something that comes naturally to us as a society. Why are we keen on video-taping tragic scenes rather than stopping people from doing so and using our energy and curiosity to assist those affected?

Hope for justice

As the National Human Rights Commission intervenes, asking for a report on the above-stated incident to be submitted, I remain hopeful that the strong base of justice rested in the legal system will bring the perpetrators of the crime to complete public view. I continue to pray for the young girl and her shattered family to find solace and strength in the way the case is dealt with. As a society, let’s put to shame the criminal and not the victim.


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