To counter the rising incidences of sexual crimes against women in India, a Telangana temple has come up with a ‘Raksha Bandhan challenge’. According to a report in Deccan Herald, the Visa Balaji temple in Chilkur, Hyderabad, will throw a challenge to men entering the temple on 26th August, in which they will have to accept a rakhi from any unknown female devotee, all this inside the temple premise.

Chief Priest of the temple CS Rangaraja said that the effort is to sensitize young boys on the need to behave like brothers with girls around them. “Our initiative aims at restoring that affection in calling one Anna (big brother) and Chellemma (younger sister) which will automatically bring protection to the girls.”

Seems like these people have confused rakhi with a switch, that will shut down “impure thoughts” from a man’s mind, once tied around his wrists.

It is also curious how they have assumed that women will be okay with this forced brother-isation of a random strange man. Besides, why does a woman need to be a sister of a man for him to treat her with dignity? Do women only get protection from sexual crimes when they are sisters?

This reminds one of the Indian pledge we recited in schools. Many schools used to make boys and girls recite, “All Indians are my sisters and all boys are my brothers.”

Some wise-crack would then hiss under his breath “except one” and the entire morning assembly line would chuckle under their breath. But this is how we are brought up in our society or at least were. Ever since childhood, we are conditioned to think of all members of the opposite sex as brothers or sisters. Because according to the flag bearers of our culture, that is the sure shot way to muffle the emotions of lust, which engulf young minds and bodies as they grow up.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • A temple in Telangana will throw Raksha Bandhan challenge to all men entering its premise on 26 August.
  • The men will be asked to accept a rakhi from an unknown female devotee.
  • Does this mean that one has to be a sister to a man to be safe from his sexual aggression?
  • Whatever happened to imparting virtues like dignity, humanity, respect, choice and equality to boys?

Someone needs to tell these guardians of the Indian traditions that it isn’t so easy to dissuade men from harassing women. When will these people realise that forcing relationships isn’t the solution to the problem at hand?

Whatever happened to virtues like dignity, humanity, respect and equality.

It seems like calling someone a brother or a sister  is the easiest way to get out of the mess your “sinful feelings” have gotten you into especially in teens. But what does it solve? Do men go around seeing women as sisters altogether? No, for that we must run after them with rakhis till they collapse into a hysterical bawling mess, conceding defeat of their vulgar intentions.

Every time a rapist approaches or a molester approaches us, must we flash him with silk threads? I don’t think any women would want such heinous men as brothers, but here we are, forced to see a brother even in the one bent on violating our modesty. And people find nothing wrong in it. In fact, a notorious Godman even went on to suggest that Nirbhaya should have called her assailants “brothers” and begged them to stop.

Love for a sister and respect for a woman are two different things and the latter cannot be achieved by preaching the former. We can only achieve that when we bring up our boys right. Stop telling them to treat every woman as their sister. Instead, teach them to treat her as a human and their equal.

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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