In the last few days, Hindu College has been criticised for its regressive rules with regard to its women’s hostel. They had specified dress codes, restricted visitors, bound the residents with a time limit by when they must be back and fees are almost double. Principal Anju Srivastava asserted that the authority is trying to ensure safety for the women. Of and on we also heard about professors shaming women in colleges for wearing shorts; Chandigarh went a few steps ahead and said that shorts would soon be banned in the state because it is anti-national.
Way back in 2000, when I was a student too and was staying in hostels, we also had rules. Almost the same rules. To remain properly dressed, to not have visitors other than family, to get back in time, etc. Not much has changed in fifteen years. Discrimination remains where they were. If anything has changed then it is just that these days we are reported of horrific rape cases to tame women, men who protest are also tortured, and our legal or political machinery has not been able to give us any confidence for a safe existence irrespective of genders. In this strange world a comedian gets arrested while a rapist roams free.
In such a society can a gender-equality debate even find any ground? Do we deserve what we desire? Can we protect ourselves if we are attacked? Think of it, boys are left to roam around because they are physically stronger and this has nothing regressive about it. It is a fact. Where did women lag behind? For years women have been made to emphasise on their looks more than their fitness. Haven’t we allowed ourselves to be objectified by doing that? How many of those shouting women empowerment from rooftops are working towards getting more women enrolled into self-defence education? That, is my parenting concern with this article.
In most houses, we talk about education of our children. We enrol them into good schools, keep a tab on the skills they are picking up. We also encourage that they recognise their interests and choose some hobbies that can be pursued with education. But how many of us discuss fitness?
Irrespective of gender, today kids must be enrolled for lessons on self-defence. From a very early age they must learn that they have to protect themselves from the evils of the society. If anything unforutnate happens, they should be able to physically defend themselves, at least to an extent, instead of expecting others to come in for rescue. These days every person leads their own isolated lives. They seldom wish to involve, in order to make a difference in someone else’s life. Also, more often than not people are scared about the repercussions. In such an environment, it is important that our kids possess the skills to stand by themselves, even if rest of the world doesn’t. They should not quietly suffer and nuisance and get along as if nothing had happened.
Self-defence training, in, say, karate or marshal art, doesn’t only help in shaping up the body and making people stronger, but they have a host of other effects on the practitioner. These skills shape up the minds and enhances clarity, attention and alertness. They reintroduce the different parts of the body to the beholder and helps them identify their weak and strong areas. Hence, they simultaneously learn to nurture their strength and work upon their weaknesses. This is an attitude that eventually reflects upon everything else that the child is pursuing. From a very early age if these trainings are introduced in the lives of children, then they grow up with a more holistic upbringing.
Irrespective of gender, today kids must be enrolled for lessons on self-defence. From a very early age, they must learn that they have to protect themselves from the evils of the society and should be able to physically defend themselves, at least to an extent, instead of expecting others to come in for rescue.
Recently, Kendriya Vidyalaya has started offering self defence training to the students. This is a welcome initiative, and a fantastic statement made to set an example for more government schools. Introducing these trainings compulsorily in all schools will take time. But a change can be initiated with the participation from individuals. For years we had been complaining against gender inequalities. We have wanted our governments to take charge and bring upon a change. The fact however is, that government is by the people, for the people. If individuals don’t force a change at grass root levels, then another fifteen years will go and we will still crib over the same failings.
Let our boys and girls be self-dependent. Let them respect each other and stand by each other. Sometime back, I had written about how parents should bring up our boys with a careful watch so that they don’t pick up prejudices against girls because of the clues they receive in the attitudes of parents or relatives or teachers (you can read that here: http://www.sundayguardianlive.com/lifestyle/2327-contemporary-indian-society-still-favours-male-child).
While we help our guys to develop their minds with openness, sans rigidities, it is important that we help them to build up their bodies so that in future, they can protest against stuff that they don’t believe in.
Let’s aim for a future, where single women wouldn’t feel threatened, where a boss doesn’t try to exploit with inappropriate offers, lewd comments can be protested openly and sexist remarks doesn’t get forwarded as social media jokes. All these would be achievable only if we have the support of body and mind, to be able to combat the evils as a combined whole.
Happy training. Happy learning. Happy parenting.