By Priyasha Mohanty
Edited by Liz Maria Kuriakose, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
Seven months ago like the god-man’s attitude: soon after the horrifying rape of a young woman in Delhi last December, the famous “spiritual leader” Asaram Bapu announced that the girl was as much at fault for what happened to her as the rapists were. Mistakes, he said, are “not committed only from one side.” To represent his “spiritual thoughts” he added, the woman “should have taken God’s name and … held the hand of one of the men and said ‘I consider you as my brother’, and should have said to the other two, ‘Brother I am helpless, you are my brother, my religious brother.”
Seven months later in response to the rape and the murder of two teenage girls in U.P, one of the reputed and senior leader of the BJP,Babulal Gaur, the home minister responsible for law and order in the BJP-run central state of Madhya Pradesh made a bizarre statement, “This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong. Until there’s a complaint, nothing can happen,” he told reporters.
Gaur also expressed sympathy with Mulayam Singh Yadav, head of the regional Samajwadi party that runs Uttar Pradesh. In the recent election, Mulayam criticized legal changes that foresee the death penalty for gang rape, saying: “Boys commit mistakes: will they be hanged for rape?”
When the so-called spiritual gurus and the much deserving political leaders of the country who promise India a better tomorrow and compel us to visualize a brighter future, have such bizarre notions about sensitive issues like rapes and on top of that have the audacity to voice out there thoughts shamelessly, would we as a woman at least aspire to live a healthy care-free life in our own nation?
Possibilities are anyways scarce. The jurisdiction, law and order of the country is so insensitive towards this issue that we as women will have nothing to expect from anyone. To sight an example, a few days back my friend in college was assaulted and threatened of rape by the rogues of the college. When we decided to sought help from the “protectors” of the public , the police, what he said was shocking to the core. He shamelessly pointed out “baby ji! If you yourself want to instigate boys to come and rape you what can we do? That sleeveless blouse baring those lovely arms can make any man go mad. So better lock yourself if you expect absolute sanity from us men”. The disgusting looks and the lewd remarks made us realize that truly “all men are alike” and we won’t be getting any help from these “protectors”. Do we utilize the democratic power and go vote for the leaders to gain nothing but be trapped again in the vicious cycle of being insulted and living in constant fear? Why are we even allowed to vote if no steps are taken for our protection? When the leaders we vote for makes such remarks, then it is better that women aspire to build up their own government with no “like-minded” men in it. When the leaders know and say casually that “boys will be boys” then why can’t you do something after the “boys” do whatever they want to? Even if it is named as a “social crime” still it is a crime and we rely on our leaders to take it seriously. What steps have been taken to supervise the proper functioning of the police “chowkis” and “thanas”? If you do think that the mistakes committed by your boys doesn’t deserve a punishment as hanging, then what reforms have been taken to “save” them from this kind of punishments? Women are the rightful citizens of India who are still not free from the chains of male dominance and their brutalities.
Rape has indeed become a part of our Indian daily news. To examine from the grass-root level, only two of every five rape cases are reported. Families do not report these cases out of embarrassment sometimes blaming the girl for not being careful! Mothers in every Indian household educate the girls about decency, appropriate clothing and the timings of their outings. A woman is taught to understand a man’s mentality (which apparently can’t be changed!) and adjust with it by taking precautions to save herself from his pounce. Do we see any parent teaching the male child to respect women and not to treat them as mere ogling pieces? Why can’t a man be taught how to look at women? Because this is a male dominated society and women can’t do anything about it?
Another issue which can’t be ignored in India is the attitude of the society. Not only the men but the women believe that the rapes or any kind of harassment takes birth from the women’s carelessness and her over-liberal mind set. This bizarre notion is not conceived only by a small ignorant fraction of the society but by the nation as a whole. Today we dream and work to be in par with the western standards, not only in field of Politics or Economics but also Culture. The problem lies in the understanding of the culture which our “bright minds” of our nation are confused with. We have to highlight the definition of cultural development which not just means development in the field of art, music, dance, literature but also the way we live our lives. The way we want to dress, speak, conduct ourselves comes under the subject of cultural development. So now if a woman picks up the culture of the west and starts adorning her up with short skirts, is she not portraying an example of the cultural development? No sir! She is defying and rather disrespecting her “Indian culture” and bringing disgrace to the nation.
I was talking to one of my friends about the issue that what the men are thinking of, what they want when they assault a girl? His reply;“Nothing. It’s just the hormones. We can’t help it!” Wow! So men don’t have a proper explanation for their act plus they blame biology for it. Nearly 25,000 cases are reported in India each year, the number increasing by the hour. A case is reported every 20 minutes. But how many cases are solved? A mere 10% may be. Agreed, that women all across the country can’t have personal bodyguards to protect them from the insane crimes. And women have the common sense that it is impossible to change the “hormones” or the attitude of the male towards the females in just a day or even in a decade. Not only in India but anywhere across the world, they can never have absolute freedom of wearing anything they want or roaming freely on streets after the clock strikes 9 pm without inviting trouble. The need of the hour is not striving to change the attitude of the society on a whole for the dream development, but to improve the situation in hand. Improvement of the law and order can be the first step. Supervision and inspection of the proper functioning of the police stations as well as the police officers can be a good start. Declaration of the reforms is not as important as their proper implementation. So women can now just live in hope that the leaders try to solve their current problems rather than waiting to solve their rape cases, that might happen any minute now in this ruthless country.
A woman can just hope and wish for the day when she actually stops surviving and rather starts living each moment.