Dancer-choreographer Terence Lewis has written an open letter in the wake of rapes happening in India. He says the real culprit of such crimes against women is not the perpetrator alone but also the family that plays a big part in developing the psyche of such acts. He expressed his sentiments on social media.
Lewis began saying: "#Rape: #entitled? I wanted to say this when that macabre incident happened on the bus, but emotions were running so high (even for me) that it felt inappropriate to speak out then. But now I think I must express my observations of this unsettling issue as I fear that we are looking myopically and our emotions are coming in the way of our understanding of this issue! Of course I well know that by expressing my perspective, it ain't gonna change anything substantial or overnight but I just want to use this platform to express myself and hope that at some level this snowballs to make the necessary shifts in the right direction to eliminate this ugly stain that colours all of us as Indians."
He then shared his observation. "Why do rapes happen in our country specifically (I'm an Indian man and can only speak for the culture I've been raised in)?"
He then shifted attention to the perpetrator.
"Without getting a rise out of me, I put myself in his shoes and started to work backwards as to what belief I could have cultivated so powerfully that makes any of us do such an act, and worse inflict mindless torture even after the act is over? It was important to identify my own dark side to be able to see the elephant in the room! And the truth that came out from this experiment was this!," he mentioned in his post.
"The real culprit of such crimes against women is not the perpetrator alone but it's actually also the ''Family'' that plays a big part in developing the psyche of such acts! When we open up that lens, we can see that it's also the fabric of our culture as a collective that hasn't been able to challenge the patriarchy and misogynistic belief system that their parents have been born into! Don't get me wrong, no parent will openly tell their sons to rape women but it happens subliminally through the parents attitude, beliefs and behaviour towards women in general."
He admitted that he has been accused of using sentences like "''hey don't be a b**ch''...You may think, What's the big deal! But it is! Do we realise how we are coding and implicating certain beliefs in our banal banter? This and other so-called harmless casual statements sends a powerful message that women are weaker sex! And this subliminal messaging is at some level affecting the collective consciousness, informing our cultural narrative too!"
"If an urban educated, well-travelled, so-called liberated person like me can say those above-mentioned things and not question it till recently, do you realise how much worse it must be in the small towns and villages? Simply put, this means I am responsible and connected in some way for the matrix that allows this to happen and the perpetrator of that crime is only tapping into the vortex of that system and unconsciously playing the deviant evil player of this ecosystem. Partly we are responsible! Does that mean, he should not be held responsible? Of course not."
Lewis is all for the harshest punishment to be enforced, as soon as the culprit is charged without a doubt.
"However, you will be surprised that it will probably reduce a very small percentage of these crimes happening again! To understand why we need to look at not the action or circumstance but dig deeper into the thought and belief system of the perpetrator/the rapist that makes him even ignore the consequences of him losing his life if found guilty and convicted!"
"You can enforce the strictest laws and it should be a deterrent to those who value their life at stake, but you will soon realise that a majority (not all) of the gruesome acts of rape, stems from simply this singular belief ''ENTITLEMENT''
"Yes, that's the truth! What do I mean by that word? Here it is! It's a strong belief that the victim has no or little rights and has no or little power over my right and power and she must comply."
Where did he get this thought in the first place?
"Most of it is subliminally and starts at ''home''! Our parents are the first influencers and teachers of our life! Most of our beliefs stem from how we are raised and we accept our parents'' belief as our own which in turn is the collective belief of a society nuanced by culture and religion! For the young boy, a patriarchal and misogynistic belief system gives him privileges and entitlement so why would he question his vested interests of this power equation! He will not, no matter what his school and education system teach him thereafter!"
In the context to current times, people need to "expose the superficiality of our culture where on the one hand we worship our goddesses for their strength and power than in the same breath we look at the woman on the street and think she is weak and should serve me because that's her role in society."
"Whilst we need stricter laws, fast track courts, sensitivity of police and society towards victims in not making them feel guilty or responsible for it, what's even more important is not to teach the daughters of India how to dress or avoid provocation, but rather to teach the sons of India, that women are equal and they are ''NOT ENTITLED ANYMORE''.”