The two halves of our human race have sorrowfully a different experience of respect in society. In fact a majority of women only wear a smile to hide their grief and anger. The recent Pollachi sexual harassment and blackmail incidents have once again caused an uproar in our nation after the convicts have confessed the enticing trap of dinners and long drives they laid to catch the young prey, molest them, video graph them and then threaten them.
As a people of India, each of us today has a role to play in violence against women. These are cautionary stories warning us as a community to understand what happens when power corrupts and silences the vulnerable. Ours is a double standard society where it is difficult to bring up enterprising young girls who are largely expected to stay docile. Where do we look out for answers to solve this critical issue of women withholding their truth because there are no ready ears to listen to it? Sexual offences against women, are not a 21st century problem, it’s one that civilization has faced since yore.
Incidents of distasteful behaviour towards women in the real world as well as in the world of mythologies are a common trend; but where do we search for a solution?
In the Bible we have the story of David and Bethsheda and the murder of her husband Uriah. In Psalm 51, we hear David’s repentance for the sin of his lust. However, the legacy continues in his daughter Tamar’s story. In 2 Samuel 13, we have Ammon leading his cousin sister into his bedroom pretending to be unwell. When he rapes her, she cries and protests with a loud and clear voice. But just like the Bethshedas and Tamars of today are told to keep quiet, Tamar’s brother Absolem also advises her to remain silent. “Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.”
In our society, women have degrees in their pockets but shawls of shame covering their faces. Sexual assault today is not a women’s issue alone; it is a human issue. It’s a war against half the population which has been gifted with a womb to procreate. What if all the Tamars decide to stop the world? Proverbs 31:25 says, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
The Pollachi happenings tell us that the girls were trapped with invitations to dinners and long drives. Could we blame a Tamar today if she desired to go for a long drive? If Tamar had to speak, she would perhaps have a different story. Pollachi like situations of terror work to silence the voice of simple joys in a woman’s life where power is used over her but her consent is not taken into consideration. Even the balms of protest fail to heal her wounds.
Then how and where can we find healing for women? We have a role model though who came as a man on earth and taught us how to behave with women giving fulfilment to their hopes.
Mark 5:21-43 speaks of the bleeding woman who has hope only in Jesus. “If I only touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Society today is very quick to pick up stones, but John 8:7 speaks of this ritual of stoning and calls for grace to uplift those hurt and bleeding. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” In Luke 13:11, we have a woman bent over for years. “Was bowed together, and could in no way lift up herself.” For centuries women have been bent under torturous weapons of lust. These are uniquely female troubles but Jesus initiates their healing with a touch.
Pollachi is a moment of lamentation today. The cries of the women there have caused another national pain. Their voice must not be silenced; instead men all over the world must be taught that respecting women is the true sign of manliness. Today the world is often heard saying that ‘men will be men’, but it misses what the word says in 1 Corinthians 16:13, “act like men”.
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