Ever since I have come back from my vacation, I have had a couple of friends tell me that they are waiting for my post on London and Amsterdam. I am sorry, but that post will have to wait a little. As much as I want to write about my awesome trip, there is some sadness within that is prohibiting me from sharing my joy. There is some restlessness within that is seeking the attention of my words, more than the joy that our trip brought to us.
After Sandy Hook, the rape case in India has been on my mind ever since the incident happened in mid December. There is so much that is being talked about with respect to this incident across the world media, that there is nothing new that I can share. But I do want to ask why people want these five men to be hanged in a public place? And how will that bring justice to the victim? In fact in my humble opinion, while the police is trying to manage the crowd at a public prosecution of that sort, several other girls will be raped and killed. So how does one rationalize this request?
Do you think it will instill fear in future rapists? Let me ask you, do you think someone is born a rapist? No. And if you think that such demonstrations will be a deterrent to anyone about to commit this disgraceful act, then you are wrong. Fear is the last thing on the mind of such offenders who are mostly under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. So a scene of five men hanging from their neck, is not going to stop anyone from committing such hideous acts in the future. At least I don’t think so.
And this brings me to my next question? What is the outrage aimed at? Why the dharnas? In my opinion public angst is expressed via such mechanisms in order to create awareness. Who is not aware of rape and its repercussions ? Ever since I was a child, new channels have flashed the word several hundred times, newspapers have published such stories every day and feminist groups have been flashing banners demanding justice for several years. So what’s new now?
Has anyone taken the time to come up with a plan that looks at this issue at a grassroots level? Let’s say these five men are hanged, and that also in public, what about the millions other women whose rapists are roaming the streets unidentified? How will they get justice? Unfortunately, everyone is not born to a family as strong and understanding as Sohaila Abduli’s. There are several thousand of them still living the trauma of it every day.
What is difficult for me to understand is how will a dharna in Delhi, help a woman in a village in Bihar, who tells her son that no matter what he does, it is OK, because he is a son. Do you think she is tuning into Aajtak to look out for tips to correct her behavior? How does a peace protest in Mumbai, help a farmer’s daughter in a remote place in Punjab, where she is asked to NOT play with her brother’s friends and go in front of them without a dupatta? You see the problem is so ingrained in our culture that we cannot shout and bring it out? May be it is just me, but I don’t see how any of these dharnas help.
And if we have the energy and the intent, why don’t we rather dedicate our time to learning about why rapes happen? What psychological and physical impact does it bear on the victim, and how we can best cure them? What have other countries done to reduce the number of rapes? What type of psychiatric help is needed for a rape victim, and a rapist in some cases? I doubt we can get answers to these questions in a protest.
We need to rather spend time rewriting the laws. I am convinced by this article, that we have a lot to do in this area. If one person’s research can bring out this list of amendments, imagine how much an independent council set up just for this purpose can dig up?
What if instead of organizing bandhs and protests, women rights oriented NGO’s funded a study of the laws in place today against sexual harassment and assault? What if lobbying was accepted in politics, but to pass new bills for women’s rights, instead of curbing corporate taxes? What if as part of moral education in school, rape was considered an act of evil, just like stealing and killing somebody?
And finally what if men finally accept the role of women in their lives and give up on competing with them, feeling inferior to them, and exhibiting their insecurity by pulling them down in professional and social spheres? After years of oppression, you finally see a dainty bud enjoying the fresh air and it is so very uncomfortable for you to put your ego aside and let her be herself in this world?
I admit I don’t have answers. And that I ask too many questions. Also perhaps that I am too wishful. But I am not convinced that making public protests or public prosecution of these rapists is the solution to the problem. And I pray that we don’t waste our hopes and time wishing that tonight we will hold a protest and tomorrow Manmohan Singh will have a five point solution to this problem.
My guess is he does not have a solution either. But you do.. so set a good example for the rest of the society by promoting equality in social and professional arenas every day and help create an equal world.