Under severe stress and strain, not many people can keep their cool. Coronavirus has created a most stifling environment with little manoeuvrability for common people. Pursuing one's interests that elevate mind to a higher plane is limited under the many restrictions such people have to abide by. Even those who have diverse interests in the area of art, sports, drama, cinema, songs and music and other forms of cultural pursuits at one point or other get bored because of long stay at home.
Now can this unusually pressurised situation also trigger a spree of crimes, including sex crimes? Both homicides and rapes and gang rapes are on the rise not only in this country but also in neighbouring India and Pakistan. In India as many as 87 rapes a day were reported last year. If there was any hope of a let-up of sexual aggression during the raging pandemic, it was misplaced. A terribly disturbed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan commented on the rising incidents of sexual violence against women in his country that the proper punishment for rapists is to castrate them. It shows how outraged the former Oxford-educated iconic cricketer felt at the rising incidents of gender-based violence.
Of the other nations in the subcontinent, Nepal, a country with a past track record of fewer such crimes has of late been worried over their increase. Bhutan is one country where the overall crime rate is low but a few abominable incidents of sexual violence against children last year shook the country.
However, the larger SAARC members had long been struggling with this sexual pandemic before the virus pandemic began in March last. During the first couple of months, the lockdown and the fear of an unseen and unknown foe perhaps kept the sexual aggression on a tight leash. But with the easing of restrictions on movements of people, sexual predatoriness seems to have got unleashed with a vengeance.
One of the reasons why the sexual aggression gets strongly influenced is the easy access to explicit obscenity courtesy of modern gadgets like computers, smart phones, tablets. Impressionable minds go awry quite easily when they somehow come in contact with bad companies or nasty contents by chance. Many youths also develop addiction to computer games. In the absence of physical exercise, indoor or outdoor sports, participation in fine arts or cultural activities, the young people ---particularly those who among them are spoiled by parents not known for honest incomes ---are prone to developing bad and prurient traits. There is no knowing how repressed minds would react to invasion of alien culture. But one thing is sure that in most cases, they fall victim to its tempting invitation.
There is a need to raise voice against the infiltration of computer games and pornographic materials. It is no less harmful pollution than the environmental. But it pollutes minds of the young generation and therefore each nation should have its strict control on its national electronic gateway. However it is a billion and billion dollar industry and unless the poor and oriental societies join hands together to fight the dirty industry, there is little hope of success.
Many social scientists argue that the offenders are not punished enough to act as a deterrent to such crimes. Others add that punishment alone will not do. Social campaigns against the crime are a remedy. Both arguments are based on strong premises but a mixed approach to the problem may be a success in reducing this hellish tendency. More and more alternative healthy entertainments ---creative, cultural and sports ---can stem the rot. But the fact is these are areas where there is a dearth of talented people who can sweep the youths off their feet by artistic contents and finished products. An environment must be created to encourage creative men and women to take up the challenge.