Of late, India has seen an alarming increase in crime against women. The Common Man has joined hands with social activists and is out on the streets demanding justice. Videos showing the lecherous behavior of ‘Indian Men’ have gone viral on Facebook and other social networking sites.Heated discussions on what punishment should be meted out to the perpetrators have been discussed again and again on national television.
Yet, not a day passes, without the newspapers reporting cases of rape, molestation and child abuse.
“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
– Nelson Mandela
“Collective consensus and public investment “- What can I, a mother of a 6 year old boy do to make things better ?
Gender equality at home : Young minds are continuously observing and assimilating information. Mothers, often unknowingly, position the father as the person who is more knowledgeable than her , the decision maker and the person with authority at home. As women, we should try to dispel this notion of patriarchy and welcome a balanced environment at home.
The boys who grow up in households where there is a balance, are able to handle gender equality issues in workplace or marriage better.
Spending Quality time : Juggling work and home, is not an easy task for working mothers. Often, in order to compensate for the less time spent with the child,we resort to showering him with gifts, expensive vacations and giving in to his tantrums. Instead, let us take time out from our busy schedule, to sincerely listen to what he has to say, share thoughts and enjoy light hearted discussions with him. It will encourage him to see his mother as a friend and confidant rather than someone who is there to satisfy his materialistic needs .
As an adult, he will look forward to a healthier relationship with women and not count on materialistic benefits.
Sensitise : Let us accept,it is a big bad world out there. Our little boys, are constantly coming across heart wrenching news of brutality on women and little girls. (A few days back, the news of a 6 year old girl raped inside school premises shocked Bangalore).Naturally, they have lots of questions. As mothers, let us tell our boys, that nobody has the right to hurt anyone . Teach them the difference between good and bad touch. Remind them, that both girls and boys are vulnerable. Do tell them what they should do to attract the attention of other people, in case,they find themselves or any of their friends in distress.
Good literature :Call me old fashioned. I believe, literature helps in influencing the way a person thinks. Unfortunately,there are a lot of books read by teens which glorify gore and adult content. As a mother, we should monitor what our child reads, whether it is age appropriate and of good taste.
Selective approach to media/internet/radio : We should realise that all programs aired on the radio and videos circulating in the social network sites are not appropriate for children. In my opinion, it’s a good idea to let your son know, that these video are not of good taste with respect to lyrics or visuals. Do not get hyper, over critical and protective. You can’t ban the videos.Just practice and teach your son to ignore them at home and outside.
I’m sure,this is not an exhaustive list. As Junior grows older,I’ll have to keep working on the list, adding and modifying my approach according to his age and the world around.