Ghar Mein Maa Behen Nahi Hai: Why Need A Ma Or Behen To Understand Respect?

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Ghar mein ma behen nahi hai” This is how many people reprimand men who disrespect women. Society assumes that having a mother, sister or daughter can only make a man respectful towards women. But is this right? Should a man respect a woman just because he doesn’t want the women in his house to be disrespected? In fact, should there be any condition on why a man should respect a woman? Or why should a person respect their fellow beings? Why do you need to equate women to mothers or sisters to respect them?

Unfortunately, people look for reasons to respect women in our society. If a woman is sanskari, she deserves respect. If a woman is a minister, she deserves respect. And if a woman is a good wife (according to patriarchal standards), she is at least not disrespected. But why is it so difficult for men to understand that women deserve respect just because they are human beings? Irrespective of how they are related to you or their life choices. They should be able to work, travel, and wear what they want without fearing judgement or harassment.

Why Should Men Need Female Relatives To Understand Respect?

Having a daughter, mother or sister at home can’t magically change equations, so why this adage Ghar Mein Ma Behen Nahi Hai? 

According to research, the home is considered the most unsafe space for Indian women. 96.5 per cent of the rape cases were committed by men who were known to women. So even if men have women in their houses, does that change their mindset? Have we not heard about domestic violence? It is perpetrated chiefly by men who are family of the survivor, father, husband, brother, in-laws and so on. Mutual respect for fellow human beings, irrespective of gender, should be taught as a core value. 

Moreover, if a man doesn’t have women in their house, does that justify their unsolicited sexual advances? Why should a man need a woman in the house to understand that he needs to respect a woman as an equal human being? And how is it justified that men only respect women when they are related by blood? Doesn’t this show that a woman is safe only if she is treated as a man’s family member?

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Screenshot from Raksha Bandhan (YouTube)

Society at large must stop looking at women as property that must be protected. Respecting women as mothers, sisters, and daughters is not a solution to the harassment and violence they must endure. Instead, it only restricts women within patriarchal definitions of their identities. The only solution to sexual harassment is to imbibe in men respect for women as equals. 

It is no use in reminding men that they have mothers and sisters at home if they are unwilling to change. Change is to be sought within.

Respect should be beyond gender. Women should be respected because they are human, deserve dignity, and cannot be taken for granted, irrespective of their relationship with them. They need to be respected as co-workers, friends or mere acquaintances. A place where women are insulted is not a happy place. 

Views expressed are the author’s own.