Sexism is not cool, real men don't bully women: Kerala High Court
Boys should be taught that they should not touch a girl or woman without her explicit consent and this lesson should be imparted to them at schools and families, the Kerala High Court has said.
Lessons in good behaviour and etiquette must be part of the curriculum at least from the Primary class level, the Court has observed, taking note of the rise in sexual harassment cases in the society.
The Court said boys should understand the phrase "no" means "no" and urged the society to teach them to be selfless and gentle, rather than selfish and entitled.
Justice Devan Ramachandran, while considering a plea challenging the order of the Internal Complaints Committee and the order passed by the Principal of a College in connection with a harassment matter, said showing respect and honour towards a woman was not old fashioned, but a virtue for all times.
"Boys must know that they should not touch a girl/woman without her explicit consent. They should understand 'No' means 'No'... The archaic concepts of masculinity have changed – it needs to change more," the judge said, adding that "Sexism is not acceptable or cool".
The court, in its January 18 order, said respectfulness needs to be inculcated very young and the strength is exhibited when one respects a woman, adding that how one treats a woman gives an insight into his upbringing and personality.
"A child should be taught at the family, and from the beginning of school, that he/she must respect the other gender. They should be taught that real men don't bully women – it is unmanly; and not an expression of macho virtue, but its antithesis. It is, in fact, the weak men who dominate and harass women – this message must ring loud and clear," Justice Ramachandran said.
The court noted that the current educational system seldom focuses on character building, but solely on academic results and employability.
"It is time to shift attention to value education – so that our children grow up to be well adjusted adults. Lessons in good behaviour and etiquette must be part of the curriculum; and from at least the Primary Class level, teachers must be encouraged to instill virtues and values in students." It called for the attention of the policy makers and influencers in the field of education to "bestow attention" on this.
The judge, even though disposed of the petition, directed the Secretaries of the General Education and Higher Education Departments, Boards like CBSE, ICSE and others to take necessary actions based on its observations and listed it for further hearing on February 3.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a 24-year-old accused who had misbehaved and groped certain girl students in the college campus. He claimed before the court that he was not heard by the college authorities, including the Principal and the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) before taking action against him.
"...Constitute the statutory 'Collegiate Student Redressal Committee', so that it can then hear the petitioner, as also the affected persons, if any, before taking a final decision," the order said.
The court further directed the college to form the panel within two weeks and provide necessary opportunities to both sides and submit the final decision in the report of the ICC in a month.