Why I Am A Man
By Dr. Shah Alam Khan
06 February, 2010
I am a man because I have the right and power to molest a teenager and abet her to commit suicide. I am a man because I have the courage to throw acid on any girl who refuses to marry me. I am a man because I have the audacity of ripping apart the modesty of the girl next door. Finally, I am a man because I was born in India, the land which gives unconditional supremacy to its masculine gender right from inception of life. In fact I was allowed to be born because I was a man! India is not short of such men of substance, SPS Rathore, Manu Sharma, KPS Gill, Vikas Yadav, Babu Bajrangi. The list is endless and so is their enormous and teeming masculinity.
The events of last few weeks have heated up the urban debate on sexual chauvinism in this country; as if sexual chauvinism never existed in India! With a female sex ratio of 865 to every 1000 males in the cosmopolitan and modern Delhi (in 2001) we can only imagine how hideous things are in the rural heart of India. Rapes, molestations, dowry deaths - can you imagine any single day when you had picked up a newspaper and hadn’t come across this ugly jargon? What do we mean when we say that Goa has become dangerous for females? The truth is that it was never safe. There would hardly be an inch of land in this great nation which can be called safe for its citizens of “lesser sex”.
As a doctor I am horrified by parents deliberately forgetting to count female siblings when asked, ‘how many children do you have?’ Apathy to the birth of a baby girl in India is well known. I can recall all those sad faces waiting outside the labor ward, when told that their “daughter” has given birth to a “daughter”. It is usually left to an experienced hospital ayah to break the news, “bechari key larhki hui hai” (the poor lady has given birth to a baby girl). I think we are the only nation on the face of earth where a mother becomes miserable on delivering a baby girl!
The fight for survival for the Indian female starts in the womb. If she is lucky to be born, she becomes ready meat for men of substance. Men like SPS Rathore, masculinity of whom is pampered in the cosy cot of political power. I presume it is easy to molest a girl in India than to get a mobile phone connection! I feel that Rathore was able to do what he did not only because he was a senior police official with absolute power but because of total apathy and insouciance of the Indian society towards females in general. We worship Durga we, revere Sita but we fail in the fundamental duty of sexual equivalence. Male dominance in India is a natural occurrence of birth. In fact I won’t be wrong if I conclude that Rathore was not responsible for the events leading to the suicide of Ruchika Girhotra. We all were. Indian society should share this collective blame. Rathore was just using the cold hearted attitude of our sexist society.
Why do we sacrifice mothers, daughters and sisters for fathers, sons and brothers? Why do we have to plunder a Lakshmi in the name of dowry? Why do we deprive our Saraswatis of basic education? Why can’t we give justice to Durgas of this land? Things can change only if we change. Female upliftment is the sine qua non of social progress. The civil society of India needs to understand the dynamics of sexual equivalence. The likes of SPS Rathores can only be kept at bay if we start loving our daughters and treating them at par with our sons.
Dr. Shah Alam Khan
Department of Orthopaedics
All India Institute of Medical Sciences
Ansari Nagar, New Delhi-29