While today’s generation has access to resources and is more aware of worldly happenings, it comes at the price of understanding what is right and what is wrong. When Aparna Thankaraj, a 23-year-old, from Kochi was confronted with a question from a 14-year-old boy – ‘Chechide Mulakaonnu Thodate?’ – she was utterly shocked that such a small child could confidently sexually harass her without understanding the consequence. A video of Aparna speaking out about the sexual harassment situation went viral with many people supporting her, and we think what she did was right.
Here’s what happened.
At 5 PM, Aparna gave a ride two school-going boys out of kindness because it was about to rain. In the video, she goes on to talk about how people don’t offer rides to strangers, especially women. But since they were kids, and it was about to rain, she offered to drop them off.
One of the boys was dropped off, and she was left alone with the other. Like any normal person, she struck a conversation with the 14-year-old, asking about his school, his classes, and exams. The boy replied normally, but suddenly asked if he could touch her sexually. Upon hearing this, Aparna was dumbfounded, and couldn’t believe what she had just heard. She took control of the situation, parked her scooter, and questioned the boy. More than offended, she was absolutely shocked that a small child could say such a thing openly. Aparna asked the boy to leave, but throughout her journey back, she couldn’t fathom what had happened.
What Aparna goes on to point out in the video is something that we, as society, must also ask ouselves.
She says, “How does a kid at that age form the idea of asking someone this?”
Aparna highlights the need for ‘sex education’ in schools that puts focus on consent more than anything else. We live in a society where women are victimised for any kind of sexual harassment and/or abuse, and men are let go under the pretext of them being men. The more we reinforce such behaviour, the more it is likely to promote a culture of rape among people, especially young minds. We often teach women not to provoke men, but men aren’t taught how to respect boundaries and consent. That’s where the gap lies.
Aparna says, “If a 13 or 14-year-old child can make a 23-year-old woman who has an exposure like me so traumatised, how can you say there is no male privilege and there is no point in feminism?” For those who think that in today’s day and age, a woman is at par with their male counterparts, you are wrong. In the process of saying that ‘women are equal’, we dilute the problems that women face every single day. Although we might be aware of such problems, many attribute it to the character of the woman and not the society that has created it. The privilege that men have over women is unearned power. To be aware of it would mean that men must make an effort to educate themselves about women’s underprivileged situation and how they’ve learned to feel accustomed to their own privileges based on their gender.
Also Read: There’s Nothing Shameful About Sex
An open dialogue is the need of the hour. How long will we hide behind the ‘veil of honour and shame’ we attach to sex, privilege, gendered behaviour, consent and whatnot? It is our responsibility to make sure that the children of the next generation grow up in a safe environment.