“Sunitha Krishnan spoke in my kid’s school about violence against women, only girls were allowed in the audience.”

Sharing Dr Arun NM’s facebook status:

“Most of our ordinary school/ College campuses are factories for rapists with the level of sexism and restrictions to male-female interactions.

The other day Sunitha Krishnan, the renowned Social activist/rape survivor spoke in my kid’s school about violence against Women, only girls were allowed in the audience! The School authorities did not have the common sense to know that boys needed that talk much more than girls.

All of us, especially Dads, should have a heart to heart talk with their young sons about violence against women-about street sexual harassment , rape, gender equity etc etc.”

Updated to ask: What do you think were the school authorities thinking? Didn’t they think about how the boys would see this? Didn’t this convey to the boys that the responsibility of preventing rapes lay with those who did not commit rapes, and that the boys had nothing to do with prevention of rapes, and so the boys  did not need to hear or understand crimes generally committed by men on (generally) women and children? 

25 thoughts on ““Sunitha Krishnan spoke in my kid’s school about violence against women, only girls were allowed in the audience.”

  1. Obviously, this is a clear indicator that society thinks we are solely responsible for instigating and preventing violence against our kind. The men just can’t help themselves and therefore cannot be helped (sarcasm)

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  2. How I wish all Dads thought like this.
    In fact it must be made compulsory education for both girls and boys, so there is no hidden truth.
    But there actually seems to be something seriously wrong happening here at this point in time.
    Wish we could change everything with the wave of a magic wand.

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  3. The school’s action just goes on to underline the thought process that victims are to be blamed for any crimes that befell them and hence the responsibility to prevent such crimes lay on the victims!

    I wonder why Sunitha Krishnan didnt insist on getting the boys of the school to listen to her speak as well?

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  4. IHM, thank you for posting my stray thoughts on this blog. The School authorities obviously find it an uncomfortable topic to be discussed openly when boys are around. Such conservativeness is fuelling misogyny and gender violence in our Country.
    On the other hand I will complement them for compulsorily taking all class 9 to 12 students to see a feature film made by Sunita and her partner named ‘Ende’ dealing with gender violence and sex trafficking.
    http://m.thehindu.com/features/cinema/reality-on-reel/article4146807.ece

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  5. Dr. Arun, your child’s school is taking an ‘oh-so-familiar’ stand – Do not antagonize your customers aka ‘the parents’ .. Parents, most Indian parents that is, avoid any discussion related to gender, sex or issues thereof .. in fact, the kind of parental examples I come across in my daughter’s school, could qualify for the Nobel Prize in patriarchy😦
    Some examples:
    1. Same-sex birthday parties – having boys over at a girl’s birthday party or vice versa is a strict no-no. They probably feel that girls and boys only get together for sex and nothing else – or maybe that is exactly what they want – boy meets girl, has sex (the boy, that is – the girl is taken along for the ride), has babies, babies are brought up to continue the pattern .. after all, that is what life is about anyway ..
    2. A 14 year old girl waxes her vagina because she was told that pubic hair is a marriage/husband deterrent (possibly by her mother) – her statement was that “if you don’t do it, your husband will not want to put his d*** inside you” .. I guess it would be superfluous to mention how utterly flabbergasted I was when I heard about this exchange between a group of teens😦
    3. I’ve heard parents/teachers constantly warning girls (when boys makes crude jokes about their female classmates) that ‘boys are like that only’, girls have to be careful (read: protect their virginity)
    4. One of my daughter’s classmates, a boy whose parents recently separated, shared his family situation with her because of her similar status (I am divorced too). I was glad that he could break whatever hesitation he might have felt and shared this information. The tragedy is that he does not feel comfortable with his other friends because their parents are not divorced. I don’t blame him for shying away from society and it’s blame game. As a single parent, I have received my share of looks, taunts and whispers; however, it is so much more hurtful when your child comes home with ‘he/she said you are a bad/dirty woman because you are divorced’. I refuse to believe this mindset is not the result of patriarchal and misogynistic parenting.
    What your child’s school did was safeguard its bottom-line; these ‘parents’ consist the majority of their paying customers .. to hell with changing societal mindsets by making children aware of gender equity and gender violence ..

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    • “What your child’s school did was safeguard its bottom-line; these ‘parents’ consist the majority of their paying customers”

      Great point. That’s exactly what our politicians do. Pay lip service but don’t actually challenge the misogyny of the masses, which is exactly what leads to gender violence and the current ‘rape epidemic’. Such people will be at the forefront of asking for death penalty for rapists while adding “this is why we have separate girl – boy birthday parties and she should have not gone out at 9 pm”.

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  6. We cannot affect rapes or gender violence without including both sexes in the solution. I would say that the school’s attitude regarding this talk is not just ineffective, it is actually harmful.

    1) What message does this send to girls? -> Girls have to take care, so they should attend
    That it’s their responsibility to stop rapes and violence against them and somehow their fault when it happens . Nevermind that the obvious fact that rape happens because a rapist decides to take it upon himself to rape someone, not because a child plays outside or a woman wears jeans. My sister was aghast when after the Delhi gang rape, her classmates (well off university going women) said “but yaar she should not sat in a bus at 9 pm.. then ye sab to hoga hi”.

    2) What message does this send to boys? -> Boys will be boys, why bother them
    That gender violence has nothing to do with them. Men/ boys are doing nothing wrong here, carry on. We lose an opportunity to counter the misogynistic messages they get from our society and teach them about consent, criminality, treating each other with respect etc.

    Every time we say, in words or in actions, that “girls have to ‘take care’ and boys will be boys”, we are actually saying that we accept girls being raped as a measure to keep them in ‘check’. People who say this think it’s only women who go to pubs or have a boyfriend (or do whatever it is that they personally don’t relate to) who will be raped. They don’t get that when their daughters return from college or go to tuitions in the dead of the afternoon, they become ‘fair game’ too. The ‘limits’ which ensure safety are imaginary and shift at the whim of every rapist, so we let rapists define how women should live. This attitude is sponsoring and supporting rape.

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      • Thanks Shruthi.🙂

        I think it crystallised in my brain after speaking to some family members who were saying “if women stay within their set lines, they will be ok” when I know that their daughters often return from college after 9 pm and they find nothing wrong with that (quite inevitable in Mumbai with the commuting times). Somehow they had only thought of women who the media portrays as partying at night.. as if a rapists asks what the girl is doing first.. and if it’s something that the parents approve of then he won’t rape her!

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  7. It is heartening that a school took it upon itself for such a talk, but breaks no new ground by keeping the boys away. This kind of reaction is what scares me the most. It is the ‘lip service’ action, scream the loudest while actually getting nothing done that is scary. To me it seems as if the school wanted to project this image of, look-we are-talking about-this, we want to address this misogynistic attitude, but dare we offend the parents ergo society. It is only knee jerk reactions. Nothing of actual value. It is at school that we can instil and therefore bring about a grass root level change in attitude and mind-set, but if they too become a part of the extreme gender inequality which is such a hallmark of Indian society, then I shudder to think how much longer will we keep having to put up with such a seemingly monstrous problem, where there is no room for dialogue even.

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  8. Sad but it’s not surprising. Even here in the US this attitude is prevalent. An example would be during my freshman year in college when I had to attend a dorm meeting, despite being a co-ed dorm, it was only the girls who had to attend and the conversation centered on how we can prevent sexual assault.

    Another attitude that’s prevalent in both cultures anyways is that only men commit rape, but people need to understand that when we have a discussion about rape, there has to be emphasis on consent.

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  9. Knowing who Sunitha Krishnan is I am sure she would not have spoken on ” how girls must prevent themselves from getting raped” , then why could not the school authorities think her speech must be heard by Boys as well as girls. But this is exactly what is happening in our schools.
    I agree with “Most of our ordinary school/ College campuses are factories for rapists with the level of sexism and restrictions to male-female interactions”. I remember in my school there was a class exclusively for girls from 8th std to 12th std (when I was in 8th std.) on how to dress modestly ( shirts should not be tight, skirts at least 3 inch below knees, taller girls should wear salwar Kameez- salwar was must for girls from 9th std.) , how to walk slowly without shaking your assets, how you should not play with boys or touch them ( there was separate playground for boys and girls ) and how you should not loiter in the school verandah or grounds during break or after school time. The thing is 99% of the parents would be happy that school taught this to the girls.
    In the same class, there was also talk on what is menstruation cycle, which, I feel was a good thing, it helped me not to panic when I got my 1st periods the next year. I never knew such a thing existed until that class, the question I had on whisper ads were never answered.

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    • Oh! It is so sad that such a school and such a scene exist! Thanks for sharing the information about your school. I wonder if we can ask ourselves what we can do to change this scene, esp in areas and schools that we know are encouraging gender stereotyping and are harboring future rapists and gender related violence.
      To me it is painful, for it sounds like- women you are responsible for the violence others commit on you. If something happens, then you are to blame. Men- live free, if you commit violence it is her fault.

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  10. Pingback: Catch them young « Nidhi Roopnarayan's Blog

  11. Thanks for posting this comment on FB cos I have been thinking over this huge discrepancy where all the steps to educate are targeted towards girl and boys are left out. This helped me complete a blog post I had been wishing to write for a longtime . My position here is as an educator who is wondering how this gross error can be rectified . Sharing my thoughts through this blogpost cos it was too long for a comment.

    http://nidhiroopnarayan.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/catch-them-young/

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  12. The school authorities were just NOT THINKING.. The school authorities ARE NOT THINKING. THEY DO NOT KNOW TO THINK . They school authorities are “schooled” in the norms of patriarchial set of RULES . PERIOD.

    So unless the parents of the boys take the initative that they should have talks for the boys, the school “authorities ( pun intended ) ” will not move. The PTA should take an initative and discuss this –

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  13. Why don’t we understand that rape is not a problem attached to girls.we need to make the men and younger boys realize the evilness attached to it.are the school authorities trying to nurture the young like this for the future ?

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