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Preventing Violence

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Well considered legislation plays an important role in containing violence in society. If an aggrieved person can obtain a quick response from the police, get a case registered according to the specificity of the offence, and the matter is dealt with speedily by the courts, it is reasonable to assume that people will not take the law in their own hands. This is an ongoing process as the nature of crime continues to change. The lawmakers need to be courageous and willing to go against established norms in the effort to provide succour.

At the same time, a lot needs to be done at the social and community levels to decrease the tendency to violence. It is easier to do so in a largely homogenous society, but in a nation as diverse as India, it becomes a gargantuan task. This requires the promotion of a value system that finds acceptance in the universal psyche, irrespective of local beliefs and traditions. For instance, if school education actively promotes a standard of behaviour in dealing with women, people will bring about change at the individual level that would go on to find general acceptance. It is easier said than done because everywhere in the world there continues to be a debate on the subject. Till what point is a woman the ‘weaker’ sex in physical terms and when does she become an ‘equal’? Should school students be taught to respect women regardless of provocation, or the more difficult ability to resolve conflict through discussion and debate be instilled in them? Or, should the respect be just confined to sexual behaviour so that there is greater ‘equality’?

Everyday there are cases reported of violence that cannot be considered possible in the normal course – such as killing of children and family members in fits of rage, honour killings, street and neighbourhood quarrels. Although the provocations for these are trivial, long pent up anger and conditioned behaviour actually lie behind such acts. As such, society needs a code of behaviour that prevents such outbursts. This is where the role of the community comes in – by establishing norms, providing outlets and cures for psychological problems, supporting those economically stressed, and curbing anti-social behaviour. In other words, being proactively civilised! Unfortunately, even the value system that should underlie this has become the subject of political and ideological debate. Even respect for women is contested if it is for the ‘wrong’ reasons. Such niceties obviously are too much for the common person, adding another level of stress in an already complicated world. In the meanwhile, violence is increasingly becomes the default setting.