Raising a generation of sexual predators?
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] high school boy called me a ‘whore’ today.
Before you begin to assume and presuppose the circumstances why or what led to the schoolboy branding me a harlot, before you start defending him or wonder perhaps I may have done something to deserve the brand: Allow me to present my case and the story while it is still fresh in my mind. The incident occurred on September 5th, at around 10: 30 am.It was Teacher’s Day. I was driving to work and considering the day, there were a lot of high school students loitering along the street I took. As I took a turn nearing my destination, there was a group of about eight-ten high schoolboys in their school uniform. As I honked to seek a passage, either they were oblivious to the car or really trying to act bossy I do not know but they refused to budge.
So, I honked and kept honking till they started moving. As I turned my car, I looked at them and the schoolboys began jeering and throwing insults at me. Now there were two things I could have done. One was to simply ignore and kept driving. The second was to stop my car and chide them into offering respect to elder people. I am thirty years old, and elder to them by right. I choose to do the latter.
I stepped out of my car, walked right up to this group of eight-ten high school students and told him: “Hey, why are you behaving like this? Don’t you know that you’re not only bringing a bad name to yourselves and to your school? You’re wearing a uniform. You’re also bringing a bad name to your parents and reflecting your upbringing. Don’t act in such a shameless way and tease girls or jeer at people in future. Some of the boys looked down. After it, I started walking back to my car.
What followed next completely shocked me. One of the students cupped his mouth and shouted out aloud ‘WHORE’! Well, he actually said ‘Rendi’ (‘Nagamese’ equivalent for ‘Whore’ or a promiscuous woman). Some of the people walking along the street actually stopped and stared.
Again, I could have simply chosen to ignore and walk away. But the feminist side of me could not. I had to speak up. I had to do something. I had to stand for the voice of hundreds and thousands of women like me who are victims of daily eve teasing, insults and jeering or sexual verbal assaults. If I kept silent I will remain a mute victim, a voiceless person.
So I walked. I walked right back. I actually ran. I ran up straight to this particular student and asked him: ‘What did you call me?’ He kept quiet. His friends had deserted him by now. I asked him again, ‘Why did you called me a ‘whore’? The boy replied: ‘No, I wasn’t referring that to you. It was for someone else.’ His response clearly indicated that he had used that derogatory term. So I asked for his student ID to which he refused to give me. Then I asked for this class, and he replied class-11.
As I looked at him intently I actually felt sorry for him. Here was a bright young boy, fair and very young, clean look and could pass as one of the boys from the pop group ‘One Direction.’ And yet the words he uttered were of utter degeneration, degrading and sexually pervasive towards a lady of my age and my profession. You see, I work in full-time church youth ministry and work among teens and young adults. It is where the Lord has called me and where I find my most fulfilling rewards in preaching and teaching about God, about their potential, their dreams and the plans the Lord has for the young. I would go so far as seeing myself as the ‘catcher in the rye.’ If these kids are going to fall off the cliff, I want to be the one to catch them or lead them back to the right path.
Anyhow, I lodged an unofficial complaint with the vice principal and the chaplain of the school. I made clear that the Teacher’s Day eve tease I suffered from the students of this particular school was not the first time.
Nonetheless, my concern is much more than a mere complaint or a grievance. My concern is more than the boys and the particular term they used to insult me. My concern is for the families, the schools, the churches and the society. What are we doing? How we reacting and what are we going to do about such?
The case of rape in Delhi recently made headlines. It saw ample protests. Yet, the brutal juvenile perpetrator got the least of sentences. Rape perpetrated by upper caste men on Dalit women goes unheard. The journalist in Mumbai was alive after she was raped. One can only shudder to think the kind of lukewarm ‘punishment‘these perpetrators would receive. The North East is said to be the safest place for women. The index is in terms of sexual assault. However our local newspapers are also not spared from reporting rape or brutal murder of women and children. And our streets are filled with eve teasers almost daily. I asked around and talked to some of the older ladies, mothers and working women and found out that most of these eve teasing are committed by boys and teens – high school students. What are the comments of the victims? ‘What to do. They are like this only. Just ignore.’
(Note: These boys aren’t teasing young girls in shorts and mini-skirts. They are teasing even wives of pastors, government officials and working women).
The question I would like everyone to ponder is this: If these ‘educated’ boys retain such a low regard for women at such a young age, and nothing is done to curb or tackle this matter, I can only imagine the menace they will cause to the women of our generation once the lads grow into adults. And so, parents, teachers, pastors and social workers what are we going to do about it? We need to ‘talk’ about it. Biblically, socially and legally and not simply brush the issue under the carpet. We can do so at the risk of giving birth to a generation of sexual predators in our society.
A concerned citizen of Dimapur