Decoding the ‘i’ word – by Sridevi Datta

This incident took place when I was in the seventh grade .The year was 1986. I was twelve plus.
Sometime in the afternoon, we could hear loud screams and shouts from our neighbor’s place.

A small crowd had gathered and was watching the scene with great interest. Apparently the lady of the house was confronting her husband about something. The husband was also shouting…but for some odd reason he looked terror stricken and guilty.

The next day to our horror, we came to know that the man had committed suicide due to an overdose of sleeping pills.

Rumors floated around. It seems the woman confronted the man because of “something” he had done to his daughter. My mother shut us up with “He had financial problems” .

That was the year I was learning about the birds and bees. That was the year I was learning “E for eve-teasing“. I hadn’t heard about the “R” word though …no not yet.

After I got married, I had a chance to watch “Monsoon wedding” along with my Mom. In it, the protagonist’s cousin in a shocking revelation tells the entire family that as a child she had been continuously subjected to sexual assaultby her own uncle.

“Remember that man who committed suicide when you were in seventh grade …his wife caught him red-handed when he was assaulting his own daughter”, my mother said . I nodded.

I had known it all along anyway .
In the sleepy towns where I stayed, an odd rumor would often float about how a man was divorcing his wife because their marriage remained unconsummated.

Later the stricken girl told her family how males of anytype repelled her because as a child she had been raped by her paternal grandfather.

Or there was the case of a horrified wife who caught her husband with her mother-in-law in a compromising position.

In the cloistered world that I was living in , where changing diapers and planning the breakfasts formed my safety zone , the“I” word made its reappearance again and again .

While there would be hushed whispers behind closed doors, the moralists and the purists scoffed at the people who spread such rumors.

Then a few weeks back, an incident took place that shook the conscience of the nation . A man in Kerala and his brother along with his son were arrested on the grounds of sexually assaulting his daughter.

Public demanded a separate law for incestuous rape . The Home minister of the state expressed his shock that an incident of this type had to happen in a state with the highest literacy rate .
Wikipedia defines literacy as : “ Literacy refers to the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently, and think critically about the written word. Visual literacy includes in addition the ability to understand all forms of communication, be it body language, [1] pictures, maps, or video”

Maybe the esteemed minister meant an “Educated society” in this context . Ok even for one hypothetical moment if we do consider a society where everyone is “educated” in one capacity or the other which in the parlance of a common man would amount to each one of us holding a “degree “ of some specialization , would that ensure a crime free society?

In my opinion , the perpetrators of such crime are qualified with only one attribute -Bestiality . So for me or for that matter anyone their being educated or not educated is hardly the crux of the matter .But for a moment let us pause and think how educated are our girls …or for that matter what is the quality of education we offer our girls…our children.

*. Do our books teach our young girls how to deal with eve teasing ?

*. Does our education make it compulsory for schools to have self defense as apart of their curriculum ?

*. Do the books tell our young boys that rape is the worst forms of bestiality ?

*. Forget about the Ma-Behen funda , do our books tell our teenaged boys that women are to be respected no matter what …

*. Do the books tell the children how to tell a “Good touch” from a “Badtouch”

*. Mid day meal and all are fine …but how many schools actually have wellqualified psychologists ontheir roll .

When a crime of this proportion happens and if an “educated “ person is involved …we condone the criminal …the “educated” criminal to be precise …but somewhere along the way we ignore the victim apart from shedding a few copious tears for him/her.

We fail to ask whether the victim was “educated” in the right capacity … to deal with such a scenario.

Maybe sometime in the future a bill would be enacted to deal with such criminals …they would either be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment or sent to the gallows.

But on the other hand CRIMES such as these would grow …because somewhere along the way the already jagged walls of our “education” are crumbling ..

WRITTEN BY : Sridevi Datta (


2 comments on “Decoding the ‘i’ word – by Sridevi Datta

  1. soumyav says:

    YOu have definitely come up wth the most sensitive and absolutely cruel truth of our society! So many things happen everyday every moment ,whether on road,or in homes, 90% of girls just keep mum over it.sometimes for sake of honour,shame,pressures from family,relations

  2. Beechmount says:

    Respect and good manners/morals always comes from home. Teaching one’s children the principles of good behaviour at an early age and giving them all the love one can, makes an impact on any child’s future relations with his or her’s fellow human beings.

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