Thursday, January 5, 2017

My comments on recent Facebook posts about sexual harassment and molestation of women in India

In a recent Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/terry.reiskennedy/posts/10211856864955849, Terry Reis Kennedy wrote about the harassment faced by Western women when traveling in trains and buses, and walking in crowds, in India. She reports that she has been "groped frequently", even though she was wearing a saree (Indian garment used by Indian ladies). But that when she tried to find the perpetrator to slap him, she could not single out the perpetrator. She concludes the post saying that, "Westerners come to India to learn about God, about Buddha, about the holy places here. We come here for refuge, not wrestling with gropers!"

I have given below the comments (slightly edited) that I made on that post.

I think the unfortunate reality of India in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century is that there are lot of places where women are molested, leered at, groped, and sometimes worse - raped. That is why most sensible family people in India advise their womenfolk to dress conservatively and avoid staying out at nighttime. ... I think there is no point in always blaming Indian police for failing to provide protection to women. The police are stretched too thin, and the police have their own set of problems too. ... I mean, most of India is still a feudal type, conservative MALE-DOMINATED society. It is not like USA or Western Europe.
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It is utterly horrifying to me, --name-snipped--, to see how Western Europe has become the target of hatred from some people who live in the West. This includes very negative view of some Western women, and at times descends into sexual molestation of them or worse. I find such attitudes of these hate-mongers disgusting. I mean, the Western European countries have given these hate-mongers or their parents refuge and allowed them to live and do much better than they would in their/their parents' native countries. To then have such horrific attitudes to the West by these same people, is being wretchedly ungrateful. If they don't like the system in the West, they should move out of the West. Not commit acts of sexual abuse against its women or terrorist attacks! ... When Brussels, where I had a very good time in my early youth in the mid-80s, became the target of a terror attack some months ago, and later the Paris terror attack perpetrators were said to have been based in Brussels, I was extremely disturbed. I even put up posts about my being upset and offering my prayers to victims & victim families. .... I am fully in support of actions in the West to prevent brazen attacks on its lifestyle by those who are opposed to such lifestyles. But these actions should be within the law of the land, and targeted at the perpetrators and those that incite them, and SHOULD NOT be at any community as a whole. I mean, due care should be taken to avoid innocent people from any community being harassed.
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In response to a comment, "the problem is not with the way we dress,in India if anthing like this happens they always blame the women, and sadly blame it all on western dress," I wrote:
BTW I am not blaming the women. I am just saying that some men & boys in India are pretty crazy nowadays in such matters. Conservative dresses helps in avoiding unwanted interest from such crazies (may not work all the time and for all the crazies). Revealing/tight dresses tend to turn on these crazies who then try all sorts of stunts. I think those are hard unpleasant facts of male-dominated Indian society.
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--name-snipped--, I can understand why there has been a surge in support for right-wing political parties across USA and Western Europe in recent times. However, one does wonder whether the right-wing parties will not overdo stuff and hurt innocent members of some minority communities who may not have anything to do with such hate-mongers of Western lifestyles and Western values.
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Well, some noted writers in the West have put out articles espousing some concerns. As I don't live in the West, I do not have direct exposure to what they write about, and so cannot be sure how close their views are to ground reality. But this is a very sensitive topic. Let me just say that it would be great if their such concerns about those right-wing parties and leaders that come into power in USA and Western Europe, turn out to be unfounded. Very clearly, I am all for Western lifestyle and values being preserved as per the wishes of the majority of its society. That should be protected by those in power, whether right-wing, centrist or left-wing. There should be ZERO TOLERANCE for terrorists or others who try to use terror or any illegal & unfair means to impose their will on Western society.
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--name-snipped--, When I was serving in the Sai university at Prasanthi Nilayam campus (free service from Jan. 2003 to Mar. 2012 with designations of Honorary Staff, Honorary Faculty & Visiting Faculty), it was very, very clear that Swami wanted strict separation between boys and girls at the campus, even at college level, Ph.D. studies level, and even junior faculty level. Surely, such an atmosphere did nothing to promote any kind of eve-teasing or worse, as far as I could see. I did not see any eve-teasing let alone any attempt of sexual molestation from any of the male students or male faculty of Prasanthi Nilayam campus of Sai university. On that count, their behaviour has been exemplary.

The point you raise --name-snipped-- is a different one. Whether such separation can lead to problems when male and female persons have to work together like in office environments. Perhaps it does raise some issues but it surely does not create any sexual molestation kind of issues. Perhaps alumni of such male only or female only educational institutions take some time to freely interact with opposite sex office workers.

But, Sathya Sai was focused on spiritual values and fostering spiritual evolution, especially in the traditional Indian cultural context. From that point of view, in my mind at least, there is no doubt that having physically close interactions between unrelated (family wise) young & young adult, male and female persons creates disturbances for spiritual evolution. Mind you, interactions with family people is different as that would typically be under the watch of family elders.

I personally am all for closely following Sathya Sai's strict rules of separation between male and female persons in Sathya Sai events, in the Indian environment.
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--name-snipped-- Male considering himself the boss over female is a real issue among many but not all Indians today. But I don't think having all schools to be co-educational will change that mindset. In fact, most schools in India are co-educational (boys & girls being together). Sai schools are a tiny fraction of schools in India.

About schools teaching men to respect women. Of course, good school system administrators do that and the ministries involved in education give such guidelines. Question is how effective such teaching is. I have my doubts about their effectiveness.

What most Indians are scared of is the police station and the courtroom. Now laws in India are very, very strict about sexual molestation or even harassment of wife by husband. The laws are very much in favour of women. However, those women who are harassed need to have the guts and the support system to approach the courts and the police.

I think India today is much better in regard to lesser harassment of Indian women by Indian men, as compared to what it was say ten or twenty years ago. The Gang rape incident in New Delhi a few years ago resulted in new tough laws to protect women and a change in mindset to some extent at least.

But howsoever strict the laws may be, women moving around at night in India do become targets of maniacs and crazies. That's the reality.
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In another recent Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/shubha.kumar/posts/10157759620360538, shared by Shubha Ramesh Kumar, there was a video of a girl in Bangalore being molested by a man who had an accomplice.

Given below are my comments on that post:

Horrific! The police must catch the ba**** and ensure a good prison sentence for the pigs that did this to the girl.
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--Name-snipped--, Some girls may have the spunk and the ability to fight off such men. Note that there were two men in this case. So if they are in a position to fight off these molesters with stuff like pepper spray - great.

But sometimes, like in the very horrendous and very tragic Nirbhaya Delhi gang rape case, any attempt from the single girl to fight these multiple men, can turn the men into satanic beasts. I don't even want to write here what they did to the Delhi gang rape girl perhaps because they were outraged at her attempts to fight them.

Here's what Sathya Sai said in a May 2010 discourse that I heard live sitting in Sai Kulwant hall, about how women who devoutly pray to God and are chaste, get protected by divine power/their own power, coming from chastity. "This land of Bharat has given birth to many noble women like Damayanti who reduced an evil-minded hunter to ashes with the power of her chastity and Sita who proved her chastity by coming out of blazing fire unscathed. (Telugu Poem)", http://sssbpt.org/pages/Prasanthi_Nilayam/dd18052010.html. I would suggest that women should pray to God and invoke divine protection loudly in the face of such attacks in India especially when they are outnumbered and are not in a position to either run away or physically fight off the molesters. India is a God-crazy nation. Most of such molesters would be scared of a woman who turns to God loudly, chanting some mantra, for example. And, of course, if the woman is deeply devoted to God and chaste (and is praying to God to save her), and such evil molesters try to continue their act of molestation, I have faith in Swami's words that God (dwelling in the woman's heart) will intervene and prevent the molestation from happening.
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http://zeenews.india.com/karnataka/bengaluru-molestation-chilling-details-emerge-iti-student-among-6-accused-girl-was-being-stalked_1964685.html, dated Jan. 5th 2017, is a report of the Bangalore (Bengaluru) police arresting some of the culprits of the sexual molestation incident mentioned in the above Facebook post. It quotes Commissioner of Police, Praveen Sood as saying, "When we saw the video we realised that it was a heinous crime. We registered FIR on January 03. We have successfully arrested (four?) people out of six... All the accused are from Bangalore. Aiyappa, a delivery boy and ITI student is the main culprit. Aiyappa molested the girl, there was no friendship or any such thing except that they stay close by. They had been stalking the girl for a few days. After their celebration in name of New Year, they moleste(d) her... Recovered a bike, accomplices also identified, will be arrested soon. It was a clear case of groping and molestation. Victim is in trauma, we should respect her privacy."


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