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Terence Lewis Writes An Open Letter On Rape

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Jyothi Venkatesh

Ace dancer and choreographer, Terence Lewis penned down an open letter in the wake of so many rapes happening in the nation. The renowned dance reality show judge expresses his sentiments on social media.

This uncomfortable truth needs to be read and understood! I wanted to say this when that macabre incident happened in the bus, but emotions were running so high (even for me) that it felt inappropriate to speak out then. But now I think I must express my observations of this unsettling issue as I fear that we are looking myopically and our emotions are coming in the way of our understanding of this issue!   Of course I well know that by expressing my perspective,  it ain’tgonna change anything substantial or overnight but I just wanna use this platform to express myself & hope that at some level this snowballs to make the necessary shifts in the right direction to eliminate this ugly stain that colours all of us as Indians! You have every right to agree or disagree or comment on it & I will look at your perspective too! So cut to the chase, here is my observation.

Why do rapes happen in our country specifically (I’m an Indian man and can only speak for the culture I’ve been raised in)? What is the trigger? Why is that inspite of our nations outcry and some effective changes being made in our country in the judiciary, the numbers don’t seem to reduce, as days months & years go by?

We can argue that those numbers are increasing as victims now are reporting them as opposed to before but the question remains, why is it continuing to happen? Are stricter laws and fast court trials really going to change this increasing number? What’s really going on?

Since this really bothered me, I sat down calmly and instead of focussing on my anger and the pain and empathy for the victim, I shifted my attention to the perpetrator! Without getting a rise out of me, I put myself in his shoes and started to work backwards as to what belief I could have cultivated so powerfully that makes any of us do such an act, and worse inflict mindless torture even after the act is over? It was important to identify my own dark side to be able to see the elephant in the room! And the truth that came out from this experiment was this!

The real culprit of such crimes against women is not the perpetrator alone but it’s actually also the “Family” that plays a big part in developing the psyche of such acts!  When we open up that lens, we can see that it’s also the fabric of our culture as a collective that hasn’t been able to challenge the patriarchy and misogynistic belief system that their parents have been born into! Don’t get me wrong, no parent will openly tell their sons to rape women but it happens subliminally through the parents’ attitude, beliefs and behaviour towards women in general.  What do I mean by subliminal? Well here is an example: Boys are often told “why are you crying like a girl” (ironic though considering that biologically we men have tear glands too and they are not supposed to be vestigial organs)   or friends and peers berating someone who is sensitive “hey don’t be such a pussy” The message sent out is clear “Women are Weak” and what’s surprising is that we use it casually adnauseum. Here is another one, I’ve been accused of using it myself and guilty as charged: “hey don’t be a bitch”…does this sound familiar? You may think, What’s the big deal! But it is! Do we realise how we are coding and implicating certain beliefs in our banal banter?  This and other so called harmless casual statements sends a powerful message that women are a weaker sex! And this subliminally messaging is at some level affecting the collective consciousness, informing our cultural narrative too! If an urban educated, well-travelled, so called liberated person like me can say those above mentioned things and not question it till recently, do you realise how much worse it must be in the small towns and villages? Simply put, this means I am responsible and connected in some way for the matrix that allows this to happen & the perpetrator of that crime is only tapping into the vortex of that system and unconsciously playing the deviant evil player of this ecosystem! Partly we are responsible! I’m not being farfetched, there are countless anthropological scientific experiments to prove this and you can check their veracity online! Does that mean, he should not be held responsible? Ofcourse not.

I’m all for harshest punishment to be enforced as soon as the culprit is charged without doubt, however, you will be surprised that it will probably reduce a very small percentage of these crimes happening  again! To understand why, we need to look at not the action or circumstance but dig deeper into the thought & belief system of the perpetrator/ the rapist  that makes him even ignore the consequences of him losing his life if found guilty and convicted! Why is it that inspite of the law, some men completely ignore the perils of being incarcerated? What is it that hijacks his common sense of his own freedom at stake, leave aside empathy or humane virtues for the victim? Why … why did he do that knowing fully the consequences? Wasn’t the law enforcement and punishment strict enough to dissuade him? As a country, do we respect the constitution and its laws or as a nation are we cultural biased & our sense of self, pride and shame is mostly governed by culture and society? The answer is obvious! We don’t care for the law! Nor does society look down vehemently on lawful criminals! We have built (questionable) a country with economic, federal and criminally accused candidates as our leaders and we elect them too? We have been doing this ever since independence? Can we see why laws are not too much of a deterrent for a certain type of people who don’t care too much of their pedigree or status?

You can enforce the strictest laws and it should be a deterrent to those who value their life at stake, but you will soon realise that a majority (not all)  of the gruesome acts of rape, stems from simply this singular belief  “ENTITLEMENT”

Yes that’s the truth! What do I mean by that word? Here it is!

 It’s a strong belief that the victim has no or little rights n has no or little power over my right and power and she must comply

Where did he get this thought in the first place?

Was he told this verbatim? No! Most of it is subliminally & starts at “HOME”! Don’t be shocked! Our parents are the first influencers & teachers of our life! Most of our beliefs, stems from how we are raised and we accept our parents’ belief as our own which in turn is the collective belief of a society nuanced by culture & religion! For the young boy, a patriarchal & misogynistic belief system gives him privileges n entitlement so why would he question his vested interests of this power equation!He will not, no matter what his school & education system teach him thereafter! Who doesn’t like to feel powerful, given our insignificant lives! If we want the rate of rapes and abuse to end then we must take it open ourselves to question some of our cultural valuesand question its role in our current day to day life! Mothers need to educate their sons of the importance of the equality of women and their significance in our lives & society, beyond their need for reproduction and nurturing children! Fathers need to teach their sons by simply treating their wives equally & let their sons know that she plays an important role (in the ecosystem,) for the most thankless, unpaid job in the world. Isn’t raising children n looking after the home, its economics and organisation a huge responsibility that requires efficiency &multitasking! Is anyone talking about it enough to realise it’s value and how women are emotionally strong to handle this part of life that is crucial for everyone!

Sons of India  need to know  that the earliest directive of Manu’s narrative ( that a woman is a man’s property)  is oppressive and archaic & unhealthy for the times we live in, that Yudhisthirainspite of being the most honourable man did the most un-honourable thing of staking his wife in a game of dice.  And in context to current times, we need to expose the superficiality of our culture where on one hand we worship our goddesses for their strength and power and shout out mantras  then in the same breathe we look at the woman on the street and think  she is weak & should serve me and fulfil my desires because that’s her role in society! This is the core of the issue! Rape is the act and outcome but the seeds of it, is in the belief system that has been passed down to us for millennia.

If nothing let’s learn from the Mahabharata that the one dastardly act of Draupadi’svastraharan, costed the entire clan to be wiped out including Krishna’s who actually was the only potent man in a court of illustrious men! Look what it did to the entire civilisation then! It was only unhappiness, misery and genocide, for everyone even the ones that were not party to that crime! But that was history or myth whatever you chose to call it and learn from; what’s important is to realise that we are all responsible for this “Entitlement” narrative which needs to change and that has to start from Home! Whilst we need stricter laws, fast track courts, sensitivity of police and society towards victims in not making them feel guilty or responsible for it, what’s even more important is not to teach the daughters of India howto dress or avoid provocation, but rather to  teach the sons of India,  that women are equal and they are  “ NOT ENTITLED ANYMORE”

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Terence Lewis, Rape

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