Is gender segregation the cause of violence against women?
Transcription: (By Tarun prabhu & Swati Jain Mataji)
Answer: This is the opinion of many especially the feminist thinkers who often want India to be westernized and modernized. Their idea is because men and women are separated hence men have an unhealthy curiosity about women and that curiosity perverts and expresses itself as the violence against women because they don’t have normal ways to interact with women due to cultural restrictions.
There are two aspects to this. Firstly it’s possible that when there is gender segregation there can be unhealthy curiosity and violence can result. But at the same time, if we look at history, gender segregation is not just in India but in cultures all over the world. Now the free mixing among the genders is something which even in western society has started only 50 to 80 years ago, especially after Sigmund Freud’s controversial ideas about sexuality became popular. Then there was the so called free sex revolution, and the free mixing became the norm. Earlier, even in western culture, when a woman would go out, she would go out with a chaperon, elder female guide. A woman going out alone or a woman freely interacting with a man was unknown even in western culture.
If just gender segregation was the cause of violence against women, then it should not just be restricted in India it should be all over the world. But if we look at overall statistics, there is no doubt the violence against women has substantially increased in modern times. It is not that whenever there is gender segregation in the society, there is violence against women.
The gender segregation, when it is present in a society and is coupled with aggressive sexual provocation, then it becomes the recipe for violence. Because when people are constantly exposed to sexually provocative stimuli through the advertisements, movies, magazines, television, the way people dress and when there is gender segregation there is no way to satisfy the sexual desires. Especially the desires are aggravated in such a severe way that the civilized way to satisfy the desires through marriage seems to be very pale and stale as compared to what is promised in the media with the most good looking women, having best decoration, make ups and facelifts. With all such sought of propaganda, real life morally acceptable forms of sexual gratification are never satisfactory. In such a situation, when peoples’ minds are filled with sexual fantasies and there is no way to satisfy them then naturally it leads to violence.
Because people want to satisfy their desires some way or the other they think the way to satisfy it is through unhealthy form of coercion and violence against women. It’s not gender segregation, it is the aggressive propagation of sexually explicit imagery that is the cause of violence against women. And the idea that just sexual segregation will cause violence is a cure worse than the disease, because when there is no sexual segregation then there is free interaction which leads to further immorality.
Wen men and women mix very freely what is the result of it? At one level, the theoretical conception may be that men stop seeing women as sex objects but it doesn’t usually happen. Men and women may function at a professional or a business or a social level with some other purposes in mind but the thought of sex is always there at the back of the mind of everyone. In fact the presence of women makes man more bodily conscious and the presence of men makes women more bodily conscious.
To deny it is just to live in denial of sunlight at noon. It is just a plain fact of life that men and women both make each other sexually conscious, which may not be explicitly expressed at all the times, but it does happen. Therefore, in the Vedic culture, it was not just the gender segregation, rather along with it there was spiritual education. When there is proper education by which people understand that they are not the body, they are the soul, then with this education, they are trained to see and treat women as one’s own mother. Only then gender segregation is the best way to not only make spiritual advancement in an undistracted way but also to live materially in a way with the minimum level of possible dangers of moral lapses.
Therefore, in the Vedic society and in ISKCON as Srila Prabhupada created it, gender segregation is there which plays a very important role in enabling people to stay focused in their spiritual perceives. Srila Prabhupada would say “man is good and woman is good, and both when, man and woman, become attracted to Krsna then that is auspicious to both of them, but if man and woman get attracted to each other and they forget Krsna, then that is most inauspicious for both of them.” Hence the best way for both men and women to focus on Krsna is to minimize the mutual attraction. And fundamental aspect of minimizing the mutual attraction is minimizing interaction.
In today’s society where most people don’t know the higher attraction to Krsna, they think that the sexual gratification is the highest pleasure of life which is specially portrayed through the media so aggressively. And when there is no access to fulfil such desires, naturally there is violence. The cause is not gender segregation, it is the sexual provocation which is there in our culture and the solution is surely not ending gender segregation. For functional and necessary purpose, there can be interaction between the genders, but the real solution is spiritual education and minimization of the sexually provocative imagery which I have also talked about in my article on “The gang rape and the modern Surpankha.”