As per Wikipedia’s page on news channels in India, there are 95 of them across all the popular Indian languages. The news media has an important role to play in a democracy as wide and varied such as India. Not least is their role in making local issues with a pan-India effect the subject of discussion across India. One such issue is the harassment of women across the country. The media has been like the dog that just won’t let go. The have followed stories closely and brought pressure to bear on the authorities to spring to action.
However, this spotlight on the “evil” men harassing women all over the country has its downsides too. For one, most men are painted by the same brush. A woman standing at a bus stop looks at the man sharing the shelter with suspicion, even though he may be, and most probably is, harmless. This is not to say that we should ease off on covering these stories and highlighting the dangers faced by our women every day as they go about trying to live their lives. Far from it, such intense pressure is indeed necessary.
Every such event is followed by discussions on television on the pathetic state of affairs in the country. We have people decrying the behavior of such men and then we have people who try to justify the behavior in the name of women breaking the rules of “our culture”.
I feel there is one piece of this conversation that is missing and it bears looking into as a possible solution to educating people on the kind of behavior expected of them.
A friend of mine related an incident to me about a cousin of his, a woman, who works with an NGO in West Bengal that promotes the donation of eyes. One night, she gets a call informing her of a death where the family wanted to donated the deceased person’s eyes. Her husband was at work and she had two young children at home. It was a tough decision to make, but she decided to leave her children to fend for themselves for a while and she rush to harvest the eyes of the deceased before it was too late. It was late at night, and she didn’t know how to ride the bicycle. So she began to walk. A little distance later, she met a group of men on a Luna (or equivalent). They stopped and asked her where she was going in the middle of the night. She explained the situation to them and they offered to take her to her destination. Not only that, they helped her reach the eyes to the hospital and then dropped her back home.
I believe we need to get these stories out and celebrate these heroes. What these stories give us is a contrast to the behaviors we want to remove from society. Such acts of decency need to be promoted so others learn the difference between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior.
I know that it is tough to find these stories. Stories about bad behavior can be found by a visit to the local police station, while we have to actually search for and find stories of good deeds. But in today’s world is it so difficult to have people call-in such instances? If we can ask citizens to send in pictures of tragedies and bad behavior, why can’t we ask people to send in stories of the opposite?
Just a thought. Any takers?