Be rational, talking sex is not a crime!

Towheed Feroze
Published : 16:13, May 04, 2019 | Updated : 16:23, May 04, 2019

Towheed FerozeJust recently, a local development organisation published a report stating that last year, 271 children died after becoming victims of rape and torture. As per the report, in 2018, around 1006 children faced a variety of abuses and violence.
Other, even disconcerting revelations indicated that children between 7 and 12 were most vulnerable to rape while those between 13 and 18 attracted the bulk of sexual harassment.
In recent times, there have been several cases across the country where minors, between 5 and 12 were lured out of their homes by alluring promises of toys, sweets, chocolates, and other enticements and then violated.
While it’s easy to say that a social drive is essential to counter such aberrations, the truth is, unless there are lessons of ethics imparted within a family sphere, the abuse of children cannot be contained.
There is a deep decay afflicting our social outlook and perverted sexual proclivity is but a sordid by-product of insidious moral erosion resulting from a ruthlessly predatory ideology.
On the other hand, we never discuss sex as a natural human phenomenon. In reality, the issue of sex has always been a hushed topic and surprisingly, even adults cannot talk about it openly, thus creating a premise for aberrant behaviour to take form.
Conservatism as a layer for insular views:
In Bangladesh, the word ‘conservative’ is used freely. Often it is used to such an extent that the term progressively becomes pejorative. When someone is called progressive, most of us conjure up the image of a person who is reckless in social behaviour, pursues physical pleasures without scruples and has no respect whatsoever for religious values.
Unfortunately, this is what most people think of those who claim to be liberal in attitude. It never occurs to the majority of people that a generous outlook does not mean one is debauched.
This infatuation with conservatism or pseudo-conservatism has harmed us beyond belief. Consequently, very few families want to talk about natural human desires, always trying to push the issue of sex under the carpet as if to suggest that physical intimacy is actually a sin.
This hush-hush treatment has resulted in the development plus proliferation of perverted ideas. Society may project the image of Puritanism but underneath that veneer, sex from a plethora of porn sites and other sources is available to the young.
And we all know that in the world of pornography, the line between acceptable intimacy and perversion is extremely feeble.
When the young get to see distorted representations of sex, they automatically begin to form their own ideas. Much of erotic literature glamorises forced physical intimacy as some sort of thrill, leading the young to harbour the notion that such arbitrary advances may be normal and accepted in the end.
To look from another angle, taking advantage of a furtive approach to sex, countless flawed concepts proliferate which are then exploited by quacks and so-called sex specialists.
Now look at the deadly blend: on one side there is forcefully projected conservatism and, on the other, a murky sub section manipulating the absence of an open dialogue.
Who will talk about sex and normal man-woman behaviour?
The first place is the family. In fact, all defective notions first take root in a family sphere which is parochial, reactionary and bigoted.
A boy who grows up seeing the male member of the family treating women with respect will rarely spend time eve-teasing. On the other side of the spectrum, there are young men who grew up seeing their mothers or sisters being mistreated and bullied. Such a dysfunctional atmosphere encourages a feeling that women are to be forced or coerced into submission normally.
Therefore, lessons about respecting women should begin in the family. But first, the unnecessary veneer of conservatism needs to come off.
Unfortunately, in Bangladesh, having a puritanical bent is linked to the proper observance of religion without taking into account the phenomenal changes that have taken place in society.
What is more alarming is that the general interpretation of piety never allows any open discussion on the various aspects of man-woman relations.
Representational ImageEducation about the gradual changes of the human body and mind are essential at school, especially for adolescents and this must also include right and wrong social behaviour.
Again, the division between what is accepted and not accepted cannot be forcefully instilled; instead, scenarios should be presented to students so they can use their ability to choose the right path.
Not everyone will prove to be morally correct and expecting that is not realistic either but when someone makes a mistake, the teacher should show the right way and also try to analyse the child’s family backdrop which may have prompted him/her to choose the flawed path.
The rising number of rapes is certainly disquieting and underlines a deep malaise plus a psychological disorder afflicting society.
Punishment or corrective action is needed, without doubt; though, the search should be to trace the roots of perverted concepts that drive people to violate children.
While many porn sites have been shut down, clamping down on one side is never the solution.
A necessary vice in many countries is the presence of brothels where people can go to get relief. Several licenced red light areas were shut down on the pretext that they were sullying the moral fiber of the community.
In reality, prostitution only became more precarious when English Road, Taanbazar in Narayanganj were closed down.
There are many moral arguments against sex work and many of these have irrefutable logic through the hard reality is that as long as human society goes on, the trade of the flesh will continue.
This is because it serves a purpose and if red light areas are monitored, secured by law enforcers and sex workers provided with the best health care, much aberrant behaviour can be checked.
Again, there are those who start foaming at the mouth, delivering sermons when prostitution is mentioned.
Regrettably, these people can never offer a practical solution to bringing down social crimes, especially the rape of minors.
Discarding dogmatism, we need to look at the problem rationally. Let’s bring out sexuality from the closet and take off the sinful label which has been put on it by centuries of spurious puritanism.
Towheed Feroze is a news editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.

***The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and views of Bangla Tribune.