Every time another incident of violence against women takes place, I stay silent. I let the politicians make their absurd and disturbing statements of victim-blame, and I let the activists speak out articulately and furiously. I also let the common person wring his/her hands, and lament – What can be done?
In my mind, I know exactly what can be done. We have proven exactly what can be done. But I do not speak.
I think, it’s no use explaining to people, time and again, that if we educate boys on consent, it is possible to change their attitudes and behaviours. If we educate boys on consent, we will create a new India. If we explain basic concepts like sex and gender in a compassionate, friendly, taboo-free way at the right age, boys will grow up healthier, happier, and more fulfilled.
We demonstrated this at a low-income Teach for India school in a tiny, crowded slum in Ghatkopar, Mumbai. We ran our 10 session course on sexuality and gender with 100 8th standard students – boys and girls. At first, the boys, especially, were resistant. They disrupted the class out of embarrassment and deposited absurd questions into our Question Box.
By the end of the course, the same boys were our most heartfelt champions. One 13 -year-old boy told me at the end of the course:
Didi – Before, I used to think that I should get the girl at any cost, by forcing her or doing anything. But after you taught us, my mind changed completely. Now if a girl says “no,” I will not feel sad, and I will not force her. I will accept it and move on. I have started telling the other boys about consent too.
Every man who molested a woman on New Year’s Eve in Bengaluru was once this sweet little boy, with confusing feelings, harmful role models, and no accurate information whatsoever.
Isn’t it simple to change this equation? Let us approach our boys with frank information, words, and compassion. We can stop this epidemic.
Because, believe it or not, the men molesting women on the streets in Bengaluru are not happy men. They are desperate, and they are desperately unhappy. No one has taught them how to be another way.
Are you ready to change this for the next generation?
Share this 5 minute video on consent with every boy and man you know – and let’s create a gender-equal India:
(Nilima Achwal is the founder and CEO of Iesha Learning, a Mumbai-based social venture that educates pre-teens and teens on sexuality and gender. Learn more here: www.ieshalearning.com)