- Posted August 27, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Speaking up about sexual violence
Missing the mark : Why moral policing is not the answer.
However, an interview with a top police officer today on the issue of safety in the city brought up the prickly issue of moral policing versus what he termed as a "promiscuous culture". Effectively pointing towards what can only be interpreted as the supposed impact of a modern, "Westernized" lifestyle on the state of women's safety, and the necessity of moral policing. This is my humble argument in opposition.
Moral policing is another form of victim-blaming. Quite simply, it implies that certain actions "invite trouble". For instance, frequenting clubs or going out for drinks with your friends after a certain time of the night "invites trouble". It implies that going out for a walk past a certain time of the night with a friend of the opposite gender is "inviting trouble". In some cases, standing on a crowded junction at three in the afternoon also qualifies as "inviting trouble"; a lesson my friend was taught after she complained to a police man for getting groped publicly not so long ago.
The very definition of a modern nation state describes the state's primary responsibility as the provision of security to its citizens. Shifting the blame of sexual harassment to the victim and a "modern lifestyle" can be justifiably interpreted as an attempt to gloss over the inadequacy of the security framework as it exists today.
It is imperative for us as a society to not trivialise the issue at hand. The citizens of India are fully aware and appreciative of the vast difficulty of policing a country as large and populous as ours. They are also conscious of the obstacles that lie in the path of creating a nationwide culture of respecting women and treating them as equals with their male counterparts.
However, blaming criminal acts of violence such as the gang-rape that took place last week on a so-called "promiscuous culture" tends to discredit the good work done by the police immediately after the incident. It also raises practical objections to what sounds like an accusation. What about the role of this so-called "promiscuity" in rural areas where rape and sexual harassment are equally rampant, and often go unreported? The argument against the new urban culture seems to fail here.
One of the biggest problems that face our country today is the deep sense of disconnect between the governing and the governed, the policing and the policed. India is not what it used to be a decade ago. Some of the problems it faces today are entirely new, and some by shades. The duty of the lawmakers is to reconcile with a changing demographic and be open to new, more effective means of enforcing security.
Turning the clock back is not the solution India seeks.