Protests were massive and loud on Dhaka university campus. Yet it must be admitted that the national revulsion and outrage at sexual violence perpetrated on a DU student fell far short of the desirable. Students of the premier university are indeed a force and united they can make things move. But what about the sex crimes that have now reached an epidemic proportion? Women, girls and even children and babies all across the country are falling victim to sexual aggression and yet the nation has been tolerating this as if collectively it has no positive role to play. Why?
There seems to be a psychological constraint on the part of a patriarchal society to go full steam against sexual violence against the so-called weaker sex. The problem stems from the traditional attitude towards the female. Girls and women are undermined within the family in most cases. Admitted that the Oedipus complex has something to do with the male inquisitiveness and aggression. But human being tops the animal hierarchy on the basis of rationality and cultural attainment.
The lesson, though, ought to begin at home or at the family level. But are families today the ideal ones to impart the lesson? Community bond has long disintegrated, so has that of family. There are exceptions but exceptions are no rule. In the rat race for wealth acquisition, values, ethics and morality and integrity of character have grossly been compromised. The villains here are none other than the so-called educated and privileged class. Below it the middle and lower middle classes are swaying between moral scruples and the desire to get promoted to the upper echelon.
The fact is that the middle class that once was the driving force behind social progress in terms of cultural mooring and assimilation of the uniqueness or the exceptional of foreign cultures, behaviors, mores, practices and achievements in various faculties is now a dying species. Politics of hooliganism and invasion of technologies have broken the chain of command and a gang culture has replaced the elderly command.
Technology, however, is not to blame. It depends on how it is used. One of the most disastrous impacts technology has left on the impressionable but half educated or uneducated youths is temptation of explicit sex, courtesy of electronic gadgets like television, computer, laptop and smartphone. The film industry is no less to blame. It is natural that the opposite sexes feel mutual attractions for each other. But the time has gone when poetic exuberance was at its highest to encourage young minds spread their wings on a flight to romanticism.
Classic genre of jatra (local opera), pastoral poetry, drama -both local and foreign -and novels enriched young romantic minds. For some it was a kind of spiritual journey when one fell in love. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet or Bimal Mitra's Kari Diey Kinlam show how intense love can be and yet the naivety or generosity of the protagonists keeps them apart. In the novel by Bimal Mitra, the journey of the hero from the lowest rung of society to the elite class is eventful. Yet his is a love most hesitant and restraint and in the end he bears the pangs of separation in a saintly spirit. Such encounters may as well take place today but perhaps only rarely.
The easy availability of films and blue films has virtually pronounced a death sentence on romantic relationship. Explicit pictures have fanned erotic desire and sex drive as never before. Cannot such prurient films be restricted? Making them easily available to unsuspecting and gullible segments, it is impossible to contain rape incidents in the country.
Women have traditionally been relegated to a lower status in almost all societies. The Western societies have gradually come to recognize their equanimity. But the oriental societies, particularly the unlettered and poor among them, are yet to confer on women equal status. There indeed lies the problem. Respect for women as an equal human being makes one sensitive enough not to expect anything by force. The families where mother, sisters are ill-treated, boys there develop an archaic view of the female sex. They are more likely to grow aggressive if in bad company they come across explicit sex materials. This exactly is happening in this country now and there is no resistance or control of this. So sex predators and perverts are proliferating.
Proper education and cultural orientation alone can illuminate minds and help make relations between males and females easy and normal. Parents are the best teachers in this regard. Society must grow together financially and culturally to cultivate the virtues of normal human relations.