Captions: Uma Challa
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October is Violence Against Men and Boys Awareness Month (VAMBAM)
“Stop violence against women!” That is a slogan that we have heard, day in and day out, over the last thirty years and have agreed with, unquestioningly. By doing so, we have also embraced its underlying assumptions, that violence is a gender issue, that men have been historically inflicting violence on women, all men (and only men) are capable of violence and that violence against men (by women) does not exist.
More recently, the focus of the subject has been broadened to include boys. A social awareness platform called Vogue Empower even made a short film entitled “Start with the Boys” which says, “We have taught our boys not to cry. It’s time we teach them not to make girls cry”.
Echoing this politically correct stance, and underlining the agenda of her Ministry, Women and Child Development Minister, Ms. Maneka Gandhi, recently said, “All the violence is male generated. One of the ways to tackle this is at the school stage”.
Ms. Gandhi proposed a program called “gender champions’’ in which “boys who have been particularly respectful and helpful to girls and deserve to be emulated” will be rewarded every year.
The powerful impact of these political and media generated messages is reflected in everyday conversations as well. To quote an example, a mother, who was worried about her 7 year old boy who would not talk to girls on his school bus, expressed her concern on Facebook, and received the following response from another boy’s mother:
“Boys do need to do “feminine” things like cook, wear pink, dress up in florals, wear a skirt if only for protest against rapes….After all, a true man is someone who is in touch with his feminine side.”
For a while now, even something as innocuous as the usage of “he/him” has been politicized enough to make everyone pause and reconsider the use of the masculine pronoun in a normal English sentence.
One might have believed that all of the above are genuine efforts aimed only at gender equality and protection of women, if not for the stark apathy shown towards men in distress. There has been a prolonged and uncomfortable silence in our culture about female violence against men and boys. Emboldened by this silence, the war against men and boys, and everything masculine, has now become full-blown, and too glaring to ignore.
Today, exploiting, abusing, insulting, kicking, punching and slapping males has not only become acceptable, but it is even considered laudable behavior on the part of women and girls. While the popular media showers titles such as “bravehearts”, “youth icons” or “female role models” on these feisty women (like Rohtak sisters and Jasleen Kaur), State Governments have even announced cash awards to them. Ms. Gandhi herself has proposed prizes to girls who have been outstanding in their “bravery and attitude”.
There are far too many examples and compelling (NCRB) data about female violence on men and boys, begging for the conspicuous silence of the society to be broken.
The idea behind observing “Violence Against Men and Boys Awareness Month” (#VAMBAM) in October 2015 is to break the silence and address female violence against men and boys, which is stoked by gender politics.
Let us treat men in distress with the same kind of compassion and support as women in distress. Let us recognize that ignoring violence by women, and denial of protection against the same amounts to promotion of violence against men and boys.
Let us allow boys and girls to naturally explore and discover ways to relate with the opposite sex. Let us recognize that imposing gender politics on children to modify the behavior of young males or shaming those who do not comply amounts to violence against boys as well.
All India Men’s Welfare Association, All India Forgotten Women’s Association, True Equity Network and Paritran Foundation have joined hands to observe VAMBAM in India. VAMBAM has also been endorsed internationally, as seen in this message by Ms. Diane Sears, who is the Director of In Search of Fatherhood ® International Fatherhood and Men’s Issues Program:
October 2015 has been designated as INTERNATIONAL VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN AND BOYS AWARENESS Month. This initiative is the brainchild of Mrs. Uma Challa, a Gender Issues Thought Leader, humanitarian, author and India’s Coordinator for International Men’s Day. The USA International Men’s Day Team endorses Mrs. Challa’s initiative. Violence against Men and Boys creates a psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually toxic environment in our homes, our communities, and our world. INTERNATIONAL VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN AND BOYS AWARENESS Month — October 2015 — is a key “piece of the puzzle” to bringing healing to Men, Boys, our families, our communities, and our world and transforming our psychologically, emotionally, spiritually toxic and dysfunctional environment into a vibrant, loving, and nurturing oasis.
We urge all girls and women, boys and men everywhere to join us in this effort.