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Parents should teach their children to respect women
Increasing rate of crime against women is one of the biggest challenges society is facing today. It's not that in the past there were no crime against them, but in the modern days the rate has just gone up. How to face this challenge? One way could be to teach children from their early childhood that they should respect women. Not only women but men, senior citizens and people in general.

How change occurs

How we live life is an effect of the value systems that have been instilled in each one of us. From a scientific as well as research perspective, behaviour change never occurs overnight. Revolution takes place over time. To get a good plant we need to sow the right seeds and offer them the appropriate nourishment throughout the growth phase.

Weeds don't become nutritious edibles overnight; thus solutions to social problems like crime against women can never be immediate. To think of it, what are we even talking about? Solution to what problem? Solutions to gruesome crimes on others like our own self? Solutions to our own ill behaviour? We can't look outside for these as these answers lie within us. We are all humans and this is a matter of each one's humanness.

Value system defects

The rapid surge of crimes against women in the recent past reflects defects in general value systems in the minds of individuals who fail to see the 'injustice' of their acts. Good moral systems promote socially apt behaviour. The corollary thus holds true; an absence of ethical values allows anti-social conduct to thrive and flourish.

With this in mind, it only means that every individual has a great role to play today, so that we ourselves engender responsible children and adolescents who grow to be morally accountable and respectful adults who regard one another and are sensitive to the honour of women in society.

Role played by culture

India has fallen short of respect for women since time immemorial. Women have often been outcaste and their respect and regard has not been prized enough. Parents in urban parts of the country today don't discriminate between their children based on gender any more; however in the semi-urban and rural areas of India, this discrimination is still rampant.

Little boys and girls are brought up in an environment where women are disrespected and denigrated. When they grow up with this value, in adolescence and teenage, this is all they are aware of; it then becomes the law of the land as they mature into responsible (or irresponsible adults): that women were created to be dominated and that the male power over them will always prevail.

How early change can help

Childhood sows the seeds of interpersonal regard while adolescence allows male and females to understand and build on it. Teenage is the period when boys and girls appreciate their own sexuality, their urges, desires, wishes, dreams, aspirations; they know indulgence and they learn restraint; to make the right decisions, to do the appropriate thing at the correct time with the right person. The importance of morality, knowing and appreciating the difference between 'good' and 'bad', 'right' and 'wrong', 'appropriate' and 'inappropriate', all need to be inculcated at this point. Parents at home as well as teachers at school can partake in this responsibility.

Biology of aggression

The male hormone testosterone has typically been associated with boisterousness, aggression and riotousness. Aggression is frequently encouraged as it reflects the 'manliness' of a man. Rightfully so, if this manliness is used for safeguarding the honour of women, it is worthy. However, the same used to take that away is a crime.

Boys and girls both need to be cognizant of the 'honour' of women and that everyone ought to respect one another and always be just, right and not inflict physical or emotional pain on anyone. With this basic instillation of virtues and values, everyone will learn to be polite, kind and respectful of each other. Then we won't see a society that will stoop to the level of committing ghastly crimes against women as we are seeing today.

How we all look at women

We all, each one of us (every gender!) needs to look upon girls with esteem; mothers, teachers, sisters, friends, wives and girlfriends, too. The right vision needs to be inculcated at the outset. Even today in some traditional urban (and many rural) households, there is subtle discrimination against females (by their own mothers, how can we even blame the fathers?) Parents need to respect their daughters and build on their self-worth from childhood. If women are given the power, they will 'feel' empowered.

Childhood is the period of building one's virtues as well as flaws. These get expressed in adolescence and fixed in adulthood. It is not uncommon to see a typical husband talk rudely to his wife and rowdily to his daughter. The same behaviour noted differently towards the male child gets imprinted on the tender male mind. Men ought to respect their wives as well as their daughters.

This will set an example for young boys to hold high regard for their mothers and sisters, only to later on respect their friends, girlfriends, wives and daughters of the future. When girls know that they can stand for themselves and that the world will stand for their defence, they get the confidence to speak up when their respect is attacked. It's time that everyone looked at women with the right eye.

How women look at themselves

Women too need to place themselves in brighter light. While gossiping and backbiting commonly define as 'womanly' traits, it does qualify as disgraceful, too. And women do it to their own gender primarily. If only each of us respect each one of us, the world would respect us a lot more. Physical as well as emotional self-defence training for girls from an early age should be self-directed. Empowering ourselves to be positive human beings and enhancing our physical prowess with self-defence training too.

Be right, see right, do right

Every girl child, adolescent and woman needs to believe that as they grow, if there is any kind of inappropriate, wrong and indecent behaviour towards them from any male (family member, neighbour, friend or stranger) they need to report it at once and not feel shy or threatened.

Empowering girls from that stage will generate empowered women who will be able to stand strong and defend themselves emotionally as well as physically when threatened by indecent men. And the decent boys who will subsequently grow into decent men must share hands with each other to safeguard the respect they have built in their souls for all women.

If not now, when?

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