Just a week ago, the Chief Justice of India S A Bobde while considering the case of protection from arrest for an alleged rapist sought a clarification from the lawyer of the accused on whether the accused was willing to marry the victim whom he had raped when she was a minor. The shocking remark brings to the fore the complete lack of gender sensitivity in our society as a whole. As we celebrate Women’s Day today, it is important for each one of us immaterial of the gender to seriously introspect our role in creating such gender apathy.

With regards to the case in question, the victim had been repeatedly raped by the accused relative when she was 14-15 years of age. The family was dissuaded by the alleged rapist’s mother from filing a case with the understanding that he will marry her when she turns 18 years old. So, the victim and the family did not file a complaint. The victim filed a complaint when the accused did not marry her when she turned 18 years old. The society’s ill gotten idea of honour must have driven the victim’s family into thinking of marrying their daughter to a man who raped and traumatized her as a minor. When a lecher planning to marry its victim is normalised, the gender insensitivity becomes painfully pronounced.

Ask any woman who has been touched by a man without her consent and she will speak about the helpless agony that festers and simmers within her. The obnoxious line of thinking that a rape victim should be married to the perpetrator is a serious sign of how rooted we still are in a baseless patriarchal tradition.

When a woman is violated, the society has so many irrelevant questions to pose to her. Was she dressed provocatively? What was she doing out so late? Why was she drinking? Did she go around with guys? Was she sexually active? And if we can find one affirmative answer we sigh in collective relief on having found the reason she brought the rape on herself. We the society at large find comfort in blaming the victim and moving on.

We bring up the girl child with great care along with rigorous moral value strictures on how to protect oneself by not drawing unwanted attention. Growing up a girl child is constantly reminded not to laugh loudly, show her legs and million other miniscule lessons so as not to provoke the opposite gender and bring dishonour upon her family.

The sons are brought up showered with great love and care but seldom taught about how to respectfully treat their gender counterpart. The inappropriate teasing behaviour during growing up years is swept away under the adage boys will be boys. The seemingly innocent sexist views are thus reinforced springing out as offensive behaviour towards women as they grow up into adults.

Every time a man commits a heinous act against woman, the society’s focus should be on the man’s lack of honour while also scrutinizing his value systems. It is time we micro analysed the perpetrator’s thinking, behaviour and upbringing, placing the blame rightfully on them for their dastardly acts. Let us name and shame the perpetrators of rape attacks without any compromises and ensure fastidious conviction.

This Women’s Day let us promise to break free from the hollow shackles attached to a woman’s honour.

I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters. – Gloria Steinem