Dear Moral Police, Please Keep Your Noses Out of Our Business
The recent incident of moral policing inside the Kolkata metro has once again brought our true ‘culture’ to light.
In yet another instance of ‘moral policing’ in India, a young couple was harassed and beaten up at Kolkata’s Dum Dum metro station, for hugging each other inside a metro compartment. Unfortunately, such incidents have become commonplace.
Sometimes it’s the police who harass innocuous couples sitting in public places, while on other occasions it’s the cadres of Right-wing fringe groups beating up youngsters on Valentine’s Day, or assaulting women for going to pubs.
All this in the name of protecting our ‘culture’ – what ‘culture’ could this possibly be, other than one of intolerance and bigotry, one fails to understand.
Tolerance & Equality in Germany
Reading about the Kolkata metro incident reminded me of the promotion of equality and tolerance that I had witnessed during my trip to Berlin in April. During my visit to Berlin’s most popular park, ‘The Tiergarten’, I saw a memorial for homosexuals persecuted in Nazi Germany. Constructed in 2008, the memorial was built to not only honour those persecuted, but to promote equality and tolerance.
The memorial is a concrete cuboid with a window through which the visitors can see a short film. The film features gay and lesbian couples kissing in public. It further shows a little girl watching the act and being drawn away by her mother with disapproval.
The film is made with a view of spreading awareness about homosexuality, and more importantly it intends to bring about greater acceptance of people of different sexual orientations among the general public, even kids.
The signboard near the memorial broadly describes the acts of discrimination against homosexuals in Nazi Germany. It clearly mentions that “Because of its history, Germany has a special responsibility to actively oppose the violation of gay men’s, and lesbians’ human rights”. This reflects how the new generation there is learning from the mistakes of the past, acting against historical wrongs, and preventing their repetition in the future.
How to Correct Social Tyranny
Social tyranny, in the form of controlling the lives of others, has been the norm in India for decades. Public display of affection is a taboo. Urinating in public is perfectly ok, but kissing is not.
We should all hang our heads in shame with the knowledge that ours is society that doesn’t protect couples from the moral police, and consists of people who often show solidarity with rapists. We call ourselves modern, but our regressive character crawls out from time-to-time when we try to satisfy our urge to control people.
As far as the Kolkata metro incident is concerned, while it was sad to see scores of adults and youngsters defending the assailants on social media, it was also heartening to see many young people take to the streets to protest against the violence. It is time we start fiercely condemning such acts, on a larger scale, in order to protect individual freedom.
Some proactive measure could be to have advertisements that normalise public displays of affection, same-sex couples, instead of billboards/hoardings that portray heterosexuality as ‘traditional’.
The police should be trained to respect the right to life and liberty, and when need be to provide protection to unmarried couples, instead of harassing them. However minuscule or slow, these measures might certainly bring about some change in people’s attitudes and help in preventing incidents such as the one in the Kolkata metro.
(The author is a freelancer who writes on social issues with the intention of bringing about a positive change in society. This is a personal blog. The views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
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