It is no matter how many degrees one acquires at the various respectable educational institutions, the stink of patriarchal odour dies hard. What is the difference between the student at a famous university within the national capital, who attacked his female classmate with an axe and grievously injured her, following which he killed himself after consuming rat poison, and the six men on the Mehrauli-bound bus on which the notorious 16 December gang rape occurred last year?
The obvious difference is that the six accused, of whom one died mysteriously in jail, belonged to the lower and less educated classes, with little or no respect for gender-sensitive norms and laws, while the dead student was steeped in cultural references not only Indian, but also global. Yet the one thing that linked them together was their attitude to women, particularly their inability to handle the sexual unavailability of women, whether a classmate or a fellow passenger on a bus.
Given the rise in the number of passion crimes, particularly their incidence within the university campuses, it is becoming painfully obvious that university education is falling pitifully short of addressing the yawning gaps in our cultural attitude towards women. What is required is a cultural reset, a revolution of sort vis-a-vis our gendered norms, roles and a clearing of the biases, which are simply too many to count.
Moreover, the inability of men, both young and old, educated and illiterate, to accept a ‘no’ from a woman, leading to violent and fatal attacks on the latter, needs a serious addressing by not just the departments of law and order within each state, but also by policymakers, educationers, reformists and think tanks, so as to devise mechanisms, both social and legal to bridge the gaps between the desired and actual behaviour patterns. We need to sit up and take notice of the appalling similarities as well as the disparities in the incidents of passion crimes, and try dig out what lies beneath these demonic acts.