A Gift of Discernment – For A Better World


I believe that Parenthood teaches selflessness, to love and respect your kids unconditionally. Parents teach the children to be independent and rejoice in their blossoming. Both my sons are adults now and when I look back I think all I ever taught them was to shed everything that hindered their growth as human beings and accept themselves as and who they are. This covered almost everything that needed to be said.  As a mother I believed that what I could teach by example I could not by words.

My parents taught me the value of discernment and take independent decisions and that is exactly what I instilled in my boys. To be discerning without being judgmental. It was an uphill task in the kind of environment they were growing up in. To keep their minds from being polluted by  age-old rituals, customs and doctrines was an everyday struggle but I stood my grounds and made sure the boys learned to use their minds and not follow what the adults in the family or in the social milieu shoved down their throat. Since early years both the boys were encouraged to travel, explore, learn from the way people lived. To have a hunger for experiencing life at different levels. Independently. It was a challenge they had to undertake to refine themselves, to shun the comfort zone. To survive in all sorts of conditions. Build immunity, sensitivity, compassion towards life in all its forms. To value life and engage with it with an open mind and a student heart. I believed that exposure would enhance the personality and it did. Most of the times the ordinary things, the experimentation, the willingness to ask question does extraordinary things to children’s psyche. It teaches them important skills and to look beyond what is right in front of them.

I knew the importance of a dialogue, conversations, questioning, airing the differences fearlessly and with a trust that they will not be judged or reprehended. Freedom to converse without inhibition or fear helped them form their own opinions and choose what was right. That they could speak up their mind was largely due to the trust we shared.  It is a friendship that we share even now.  Once you rise above the relationship and treat the children simply as fellow human beings the approach to life changes. They become confident, curiosity helps them to expands their horizons inwardly as well as outwardly and a foundation for critical thinking is laid.

My boys had a privilege to experience two very different perspectives on ‘how to live a life’. A liberal, freethinking one from their maternal side and an orthodox, ritualistic one from the other. I think it helped them form their own set of values for life. They also learned from my limitations and sufferings. It made them a champion for women’s rights. Another major aspect was to make them aware of themselves so that they accept themselves as and who they were. I remember one of my sons asking me how I would react if he told me one day that he was gay or bisexual. I said it was his life and his sexual orientation or the way he is biologically. There was nothing to ‘react’. It is what it is. He asked if I would accept it. I replied that the question of acceptance doesn’t arise because it is ultimately His Life not mine. The fact that I would be by his side if needed was enough to make him comfortable with his choices I guess. I belive and taught them that unless you love yourself as who you are you can not love others nor others can love you. Loving oneself is an important lesson in life. To value the life we are given and live it well. Brief as it is.

The knowledge that I neither considered or treated the boys as my extension nor tied them to my apron strings helped them and me to lead a normal guilt free life in which we had mutual respect for each other, learned from each other and grew up together. Children are keen observers and often make decisions based on their understanding of life. To help them in this process all that is needed is a slight nudge. They have an agenda of her own. Suddenly one saw that the role of a mother as imagined or perhaps, vaguely understood could be questioned. Please! Can I not live my own life? Do I have to answer for each little thing I do? I am disgusted with this refrain “it is for your own good”. I know what it means and I can take care of myself – thank you! There is much heartbreaking pain and avoidable conflict. An uneasy kind of friendship develops as the teens are about to end, and one hopes that some understanding and maturity comes along to make life a little less rough – not for the daughter or son alone but also for the mother too. It is phase that strengthens the bonds without turning them into a noose. All one has to do is understand where they are coming from and help them deal with it if required. Unnecessary involvement in their daily struggles irks them at times.

I feel children who do not carry the burden of ‘teaching’ turn out to be better adults. I have seen around me the all engulfing apron strings, the controller moms who invade the very fabric of their son’s life till the core and leave it tattered. Mothers who just do not know where to draw the line. The worse thing a mother can do is to smother the child with ‘love” stunting their personalities. I cut the umbilical cord for my sanity and for the betterment of my children. They were loved and cared for but never became the primary focus of my passion and preoccupation. For the children to grown up without any mental, emotional, sexual dysfunction it is essential not to suffocate them. Being a free-spirited person myself it wasn’t difficult to instill it in my boys.

Growing up with them has been a wonder filled experience. Still is. I know I am the most unconventional mom but I love just the way it is. Now, I am looking at my life afresh, from their perspective, sharing a more mature friendship which began from the  time I conceived them. A beautiful detached attachment. Motherhood has made me a better person and to sum it all in one sentence I would say, “Let your children be. You can’t teach a sapling how to grow; you can only give it all it needs, sit back and watch.” In doing so you are not just making them good citizens but most importantly better human beings; and in the end, that is all that matters. This post is written for the #MomsforaBetterWorld Project

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Rape : Blame the Rapist not the Victim


Center for Development of Women’s Studies (CDWS)  disturbing statistics  say 42 women are raped every day in India, one every 35 minutes.

Only one in about 70 cases of rape gets reported. This means that about 69 women get raped before one lodges an official complaint. Of the reported cases (only one out of 70), only 20 per cent are convicted. Consequently, only three out of 1,000 rapists ever get convicted. So most rapists can get away with rape.

From 9 to 90 every woman is unsafe here.

Age, status, caste ,creed, looks NO BAR, a woman is raped for just one reason : Being a woman. Nothing else.

When my maid came up with the news that a 90+ woman who had gone to a nearby “jungle” close to where she stays for morning job , she was raped by four men. The men ran away leaving the traumatized victim in a state of shock. The incident which happened very close to the local police station was pushed under the carpet. No complaint was launched. Case closed.

The maid , who was still under shock kept wondering  WHY an old woman for God’s sake ? and then came the reply from with . Because she was a woman.

She said in hushed voice, ” it does not matter if you are old or young , beautiful or ugly, rich or poor, what matters is you are a woman. what they(men) need is a hole and two boobs.”

I was more shocked than her. Shocked at the truth she was speaking. The words burned into my soul like embers.

That was the truth, complete and honest.

This is the reality which glares at us from every part of the country be it villages, cities anywhere.

Little girls , young women, old women no one is safe in this country.

In most of the cases the rapists are known people.

A father, a brother, an uncle , a friend. Who are we supposed to trust?

Rape doe not happen like they show in films, it comes from unexpected sources, hits hard and stuns the victim.

I remember Gulzar Saheb’s poem Rape’s few lines here :

” sirf aurat thi wo, kamzor thi wo,

char mardon ne, ki wo mard the bas

pasedeewar use rape kiya

translation

Just a woman, weak, vulnarable

four men, only because they were men

pinned her against the wall and raped her.

Unfortunately  most of the times women are blamed for the rape and sexual abuse cases. I have heard even other woman saying ,” aaise ban than ke nikalegi to mardon ki nazar to kharab hogi hi ” ( if she goes out all decked up like this men will get tempted)

“kapde to dekho iske , phir hum aadmiyon ko dosh dete hain ( look at her clothes and then we blame men”)

“aaj kal auraten hi zyada khul khel karti hain , niyota denge to rape to honge hee( these days women have become so outgoing, if they invite, rape will happen”)

I ask those  who blame the woman for “indecent behavior” such as wearing skimpy clothes, going out late at night ot ” inviting” men, are women in burkhas and salwar-kameez not eve-teased, raped or molested?

Don’t rape cases occurs in broad daylight.

What about the little girls who are raped by their own family members, relatives or friends?Child sexual abuse and incest is growing in large proportions. Here is a poem I wrote about it  The Lost Childhood

Do they even know what’s happening to them leave aside” inviting”. what about the old woman who could never dream that she too can fall prey to these lecherous men?

What about women who are raped in police custody by the very people who are supposed to protect her?

What about  Aruna Shanbaug who was attacked with a dog chain and brutally raped in the very hospital where she was a nurse, and abandoned by her family thereafter.The rapist was convicted for seven years in jail, and is believed to have started a new life in another hospital in New Delhi.  She lies in a state of coma in a room of the same hospital for the last 37 years. What was her fault ?

How did a nine year old ” provoke ” a man to rape her in Goa ? Link

Why there is always a “moral code of conduct” for women? Why women are blamed for a crime where they are the victims?Why can’t they live the way they want to without the fear of sexual abuse, molestation, rape hanging over them?

Why the rapists do not get punished severely, Why the cases are not registered and those which are , never get justice?

Why there is this widespread misconception that women are sexually available and that some men simply cannot help themselves?

What about rape within marriage ? Who is responsible for this intimate betrayal? A crime which is  not even considered a crime?

I wrote a post on this sometime back  marital rape

A few days back I got a twitpic from a friend originally posted on Jagori.org

Came across this Jagori.org poster (Credits: London Rape Crisis Centre) entitled “बलात्कार से बचाव के लिए मार्गदर्शन” translates to “Guidelines for prevention from Rape” #women

This fried wanted me to do the translation for this. This what he posted LINK

This what I translated

Do not step out in the darkness
it is an invitation to men
do not step out alone anytime
in any case it is an invitation to men
do not stay inside the home
for both relatives and guest can rape
do not stay without clothes
it evokes (boosts)desire in men
do not wear clothes
because these types of clothes
it is an invitation to men
beware of childhood
coz some rapists prefer little girls
beware of old age
some rapists prefer old women
do not have father, uncle, grand father, brother-in-law and brothers
these are the relatives who usually rape the young women of the house
do not have neighbors
they usually rape
do not get married
rape within marriage is permissible
but , if you need full protection
do not live.

The poster tells a story by itself. I wonder how many men will feel ashamed reading this!

we also found an original translation

For how long women will live in fear, suffering at the hands of men is something to think about.

In a country rooted in age-old beliefs, conventions and rules set by men for their benefits and convenience, a woman has little say. She is either a ” virgin wife” or a “slut” there is no in betweens. Any woman who stands up to raise her voice against the unjust society, who breaks free of the “usual social norms” is crushed brutally.

Rape victims live a life of humiliation, are denyed justice most of the time. They are conditioned to believe that they are the cause of their misery and the best thing to do is remain silent.Who wants to be humiliated twice in a society where law makers to law breakers all men speak one language: A woman who “asks for it” ” gets it”.

Is a woman safe from the time she is born till the time she dies? At every step she faces challenges which threaten her very existence.  All her life a woman’s conduct is put under scanner. Her every word is daubted. She has to prove her innocence, her purity at all levels.  Lines are drawn for them but never for the men. She is not “allowed” to step out of the ” laxman rekha” ( her line of conduct) and has to give ” agni pareeksha” (proof) for the things she is not responsible.

WHY?

Why

why the blame is always shifted to women? Even when she is raped, assaulted, burnt, termed a witch it is her fault. Men are never wrong. How inhumanly unfair is that?

I remember reading in ‘A thousand splendid suns’, “A man’s pointing finger will always find a women to blame” .

The moment a rape occurs people raise fingers at the ” loose character” of the girl/woman. If some men get “provoked” enough to rape by mere sight of a woman and can not control themselves  and are compelled to commit the crime then the only sentence should be castration.

Came across this blog which is a must read Rape Culture

Isn’t it time we stopped these double standards in the code of conduct for women and men? It is unfortunate that women from one generation to the other pass on the legacy of these utterly rubbish ideas of a woman being responsible for any sexual advancement towards her. It is time to set an example by making strict laws and enforcing them with even more strictness. It is time to give complete support, counselling, justice  to rape victims and not judge them and humiliate them further.

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