Our society is poised today at a juncture of flux and upheaval. Modern education and thinking, aided by technology-enabled awareness, have meant the decline, if not decimation, of some age old social ills. Yet there are several disruptive tendencies that still remain entrenched in our social milieu which need to be done away with, at the very earliest. On the other hand, family values, traditions which strengthen us and our cultural diversity need to be constantly nurtured and preserved.
Raising young boys to become balanced gentlemen is a goal that families should place high on their priority lists. The reason why many perfectly well- behaved young men turn into monsters once they exit their homes, is difficult to fathom. There is obviously something deeply ingrained in their psyche that transforms them from being doting brothers at home to becoming absolute ruffians on the road.
Almost as worrisome as the dastardly incidents of heinous crime against women which continue to shell-shock a traditionally sheltered society, is the malaise of the rampaging goon on the street. Boys from families that never allow them to raise their voices at home, suddenly become unfettered wrong- doers once on the loose.
Women and girls who venture out of their homes every day know that it is a big bad world out there. Cities like New Delhi especially have a reputation of being inhospitable and even scary places at times. Women cannot afford to be
themselves in public places, barring a few exceptions, in our country. There is always the risk of someone gawking, staring, leering or gaping at them. There is also the likelihood that they will be groped at and fondled in a bus or harassed on a train.
Rural areas too suffer from such problems but since people know each other in smaller habitats, the chances of uncouth behavior are fewer than in urban areas. Of course, perpetrators of crimes like rape and murder do not suffer from inhibitions relating to location or any other sort of hesitation. While the nation as a whole is in the process of educating its young and the percentage of well-read youth is increasing every day, there is no guarantee that
education brings gentlemanliness to any man. All ladies know well that well- placed elderly gents are just as susceptible to unacceptable behavior when given a chance, as are uneducated youth.
The root causes for deviation from decency lie in the values that young men fail to imbibe while growing up. Parents are at fault for not instilling in them the ‘dos’ that should necessarily be inculcated- respecting other families, neighbours and the like, especially the ladies. The male of the species has to be made to know that it is not alright to disrespect a stranger, and it is not enough to only behave well before females who are friends or family members.
By not following basic observances in the upbringing of our youth we are creating unruly grown-ups. Making boys and girls work together in collective community activities is one way to instill balanced behavioural values.
Another angle which needs to be looked at in this regard is the fact that not all men are louts. A large percentage of them are well behaved and cultured in their conduct. They too have been raised by families from the same sets of
communities. The question to ask is, then why not the others? And an even stronger subject is the abuse of womenfolk by men in a male dominated scenario. Lundy Bancroft, author of ‘Why does he do that?’ avers that
“Abuse grows from attitudes and values, not from feelings. The roots are ownership, the trunk is entitlement and the branches are control.” Thus the still dominant male needs to have been really infused with sheer goodness if he is to not to behave like an animal at home when he becomes the man of the house. His notions of undiluted power and the concomitant inflated status of his ego prevent him from being gentle with the ladies.
Only a combination of fear of the law and societal emphasis on balanced upbringing of young men will ensure an enhanced quality of life for India’s women, nothing less.