Exposing the shame and sharing blame
The name Mukesh Singh might not mean much to most Barbadians. It’s that of one of those men currently on death row in an Indian prison for the brutal 2012 gang rape and murder of 23-year-old medical student Jyoti Singh that shocked sane minds across the globe.
Ms Singh was beaten with iron bars during the rape and subsequently thrown from a moving bus. She suffered numerous injuries, dying about two weeks after the incident.
That was disturbing enough. Now in a BBC documentary which was to be aired this evening, Mukesh Singh, in an interview, gives some insight into a cultural malaise in India that has been highlighted in that Asian nation’s media and has also drawn the attention of the country’s political and social leaders.
Mukesh Singh described the victim’s murder as an accident and said that when the young woman was being raped she should not have fought with her attackers. He added she should have remained silent and accepted being violated. He noted that across India women were more responsible for rape than men.
“You can’t clap with one hand –– it takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night . . . . A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 per cent of girls are good,” Mukesh Singh’s twisted brain reasoned.
But he was not finished. Mukesh Singh noted that the death penalty for his heinous crime would make it worse for women. His explanation was that when women were raped in the future their attackers would now kill them to avoid being identified and possibly captured.
Mukesh Singh, as has been indicated by Indian psychologists, women’s rights organizations and sane men, is a product of a centuries-old culture that in many ways views women as second-class citizens at best, and frequently no more than mere chattel.
We travel across the ocean to our own neck of the woods. Thankfully, such extreme, negative acculturation is not part of the Barbadian experience. The predictability which seems to be attached to Mukesh Singh’s actions is not one which accompanies the dynamics of relationships between men and women in Barbados.
But we too have an issue which also seems to be cultural –– domestic violence and especially that perpetrated against women.
Organizations such as the Men’s Education Support Association would have us believe that domestic violence perpetrated by women against men is a problem. MESA has produced no empirical evidence to support this, and within that context we distance ourselves from any suggestion that men being physically abused by women is a
Conversely, cases brought before the law courts, stories of women seeking medical attention at hospitals and clinics for a variety of injuries, reports of domestic violence made to police stations by women, and instances of women seeking refuge at the homes of neighbours and family members have become commonplace in this country. We too have a cultural problem.
Mukesh Singh might be a moron articulating a nurtured point of view –– the most dangerous kind –– but there are some in our midst, equally moronic, who do not articulate any cultural position but frequently act out their sickness. Some unhesitatingly beat and maim; others beat and maim as though by right; while others act out their own sense of gender inferiority with their fists or weapons.
Such behaviour is frequently carried out by adults in the presence of impressionable young males –– and the cycle continues.
But as India attempts to deal with the Mukesh Singhs of that populous nation, we in Barbados have to wage a battle against domestic violence from the nursery school to the geriatric hospital.
Some, most of whom know nothing of what they speak, have called for additional laws to deal with domestic violence. There is no such need for more paper, as existing laws already cover every form of violation which one human being can visit upon another in the island, especially in situations of domestic violence.
This would suggest that more ineffectual laws are not the answer. Education and better parenting are excellent starting points for a concerted, bloodless war to be waged against domestic violence. Instances of such domestic violence must not be buried, but must be highlighted at every occurrence.
Those who perpetrate such violence must be made witnesses to their own shame. Nor must men be satisfied to seek refuge in organizations that delude them into believing they are indeed victims of rampant violence inflicted by women. That is a great folly.
Women and men’s organizations should not be places of gender refuge. Nor should they be avenues for the pointing of fingers and measuring the scale of blame. In such an atmosphere such agencies are simply havens for those creating the problems in the wider society. We dare say that such organizations should work collaboratively.
A recent bickering between MESA and the National Organisation of Women demonstrated the urgent need for working together. It was a case of two organizations showing they had lost their way.
We are not in the situation which our brothers and sisters face in India. But our shame is no less than theirs if one of us is beaten or maimed simply because of our gender.