In view of the increasing heinous crimes of sexual assaults against women, day in and day out, we are obligated to deal with the situation in depth before India is officially declared as the ‘Rape Capital of the World.’Effective measures can be achieved or accomplished by changing the mindset of the society at large across all its different socio-economic strata. Life has become very fast paced and lifestyles are changing equally fast leading to varied issues and social pressures in today’s world. This article deals with the need for gender sensitisation and education.
Gender sensitization is the modification of behaviors so that there is greater awareness and empathy to create gender equality. Sexual offences include sexual gestures, stalking, ogling, voyeurism, molestation and intercourse (rape). We like to know everything to prevent heart, lung, liver, kidney diseases etc. but we are reluctant to discuss anything about human sexuality including sexually transmitted diseases or anything related to sex because ours is a culture of silence. It is time to break this silence.
Sexuality is a normal part of our biological system; hence sexual awareness is imperative. We need to begin to speak out, we need to educate people about what is normal sexual behavior and what is not acceptable and clearly wrong, so that there is no guilt involved in reporting offenses. We need to inculcate moral and ethical values in our society about respect to women. Here are some age-old names related to the female sex such as, Prithvi (Earth), Gayatri (Sun), Devi(Goddess), Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Cauvery. Are they not life givers? Then why abuse them? Even ‘Adalat’ is symbolic of Goddess of Justice. We need to empower our communities and the people who are abused so that victims can report.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), India has the largest number of sexually abused children of both genders. Many states in India have started taking steps to sensitize the younger population and medical professionals can play a major role in eradicating sexual offenses by educating, examining, and by using their clinical instincts and acumen to suspect a sexual offense.
ROLE OF GENDER STUDIES
In recent times, it has become imperative to impart sex education to the students of schools and colleges to get rid of misconceptions regarding myths and realities pertaining to anatomical and physiological activities, in either gender, regarding procreation, spread of sexually transmitted diseases etc.
At the outset, knowledge of anatomical and physiological changes that occur during puberty should be imparted. It should be stressed that the development of secondary sexual characters at puberty such as facial, axillary and pubic hair in males and breast development and axillary and pubic hair in females, is normal. Any abnormalities in the process of development of these characters can lead to disease or disability that leads to morbidity or mortality if not treated properly.
It is a great matter of concern (or shame) to note that with every passing year, criminal sexual assaults on females of all ages (from infants to adolescents to adults to elderly) are on the rise, but what is reported is not even tip of the iceberg. The problem is further compounded by the victims committing suicide or living with the social stigma of rape.
The object of this article is to sensitize people especially younger generation, to be alert to the prevailing situations and circumstances with regards to their safety. Law enforcing agencies may be doing their job, but not to our expectation. Politicians have their own interests and agendas. Our Indian culture is one of a male dominated society that looks upon women as subordinates, and that is the reason why we have remained backward in this area.
We can combat this problem either individually or in a forward strategic manner by educating and teaching women of all ages how to be safe. It is here that the role of self-defense in the form of martial arts or use of any other techniques or deterrents, such as pepper spray, that will protect them from the offender. The choice of dress should be appropriate not only to the time but also to place. Dress such as salwar or churidhar or jeans as compared to a saree make escape from a harmful situation easier. Hence, teaching women to be self advocates for their safety with full awareness of what is right / acceptable and wrong will be a forward step in the right direction.
Q: What is rape?
A: Forceful sexual/genital intercourse against the will of the female is known as rape. This is true even if the husband commits the act against the will of his wife.
Q: What is adultery?
A: Sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their husband or wife is known as adultery.
Q: What is incest?
A: Sexual activity between two people who are very closely related
Some highlighted points about the protection of minors from sexual crimes as given in the Indian Penal Code. A study done in 2007 showed that around 53% children in India have faced one or more forms of abuse. Hence it is important to understand that gender sensitisation also affects later behaviors.
THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT, 2012
- Passed on May 22, 2012
- Provides protection to children below 18 years from sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
- Punishment range from fines to rigorous imprisonment (Section 376 of Indian Penal Code).
- Provides for special court trial.
- Incorporated child friendly procedures during investigation and trial.
- Provided relief and rehabilitation of child.
We must bear in mind that gender sensitisation is very much required in our society today and should be present at all levels of society from a very early start.
DO’S AND DON’TS FOR VICTIMS
- Do report the matter to parents, teachers, police or the appropriate NGO.
- Try to defend using any means such as nails or teeth, foot or fist.
- Carry some chili, pepper, mace powder for dusting in eyes.
- Carry a small knife
- Learn any form of self-defense.
- Do not wash any part of your body, particularly genitals until medical\ examination is conducted.
- Do not wash any of your clothes, undergarments, handkerchief, watch or purse till you are examined by the doctor
(The rape kit should be used for collection of samples so that DNA tests can be done).
- The place where the offence is committed should not be washed or cleaned lest evidence be destroyed.
- Sharma JK. Understanding the Concept of Sensitisation in Humanities and Social Sciences: An Exploration in Philosophy of Mind. International Journal of Scientific Research. March 2016; 24 (90): 380–400.
- Kacker L, Varadan S, Kumar P. Study on child abuse: India 2007. Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. 2007