As we struggle with crimes against women, little attention is paid to the role of society in these crimes. When a man rapes a woman, he is asserting his stereotypical role of the ‘stronger’ gender. When a man slaps his wife, he is only asserting the power that our society has given to him. Our society puts so much emphasis on producing male babies that they grow up with a twisted sense of entitlement. They believe they are stronger and that they have a right to treat women as inferior. This sense of entitlement is the basis of crimes against women.

How can we change this? Each one of us has a role to play in bringing about change. As a mother, you can teach your daughters to have high self esteem and know that they are equal to men in every possible way. You can teach your boys to respect women and know that they are equal to women in every possible way.

If you have are the parents of a son, there is a lot of responsibility on you. You have to bring your son(s) up in such a way that they grow up without this sense of entitlement and learn to treat women with respect. How can you do this?

1. Treat women with respect yourself:Your son will learn more from observation and less from your express teachings. Fathers have great responsibility – treating their moms with respect is the first way of showing little boys how to behave with a woman. All the women in family should be treated with respect so that the boy learns this from an early age.

2. Your behaviour towards his sister: If you hve a daughter, you have an opportunity to teach gender equality to your son from an early age. Treat both of them as equals in everything.

3. Avoid gender specific games and toys: Disney would like us to keep on treating our daughters like damsels in distress-which they are not! In this day and age, there should be no gender specific games and toys. Girls should be encouraged to play with trucks and cars, and boys should not be stopped from buying a pink girly toy if they want one!

4. Mixing of the genders is good: If you boy likes to play with boys only – you have a problem. Encourage both girls and boys to play together. If they grow up with female friends, boys tend to objectify women lesser and treat them as peers.

You have to realize that it is your parenting that will decide how your son treats the women in his life!

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Lavanya Mehra


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