Friday, December 21, 2012

Rape, Honour Killing, Acid throwing are all faces of same malaise

“I would blame the women who try to wear certain clothes just to keep in tune with the trend. They are the ones who provoke men.” - KPS Gill

4 years ago, in the city of Warangal in Andhra Pradesh, a girl studying B Tech was attacked with acid by 3 boys on her way back from college. That girl had her face disfigured and suffered severe burns. There was outrage all around. The YS Rajashekar Reddy government ordered 'stern action'. The 3 youth were nabbed and paraded before media. They confessed for the crime. Then the police shot and killed them. Instant justice, it was called. It was supposed to be a 'deterrent'. Or was it? Hardly 2 months later, there was another. And another. They continue as we speak.

The ongoing outrage about the shocking Delhi rape is following the same pattern. People want justice, instantly, now, on public television, if some have their way. They say the guys responsible have to be hanged, and it should be telecast 'live' on TV. They started an online petition too. Some believe that would be a 'deterrent'. Would it be? And what exactly are people implying when they suggest capital punishment for rape? That the crime is so grave that the girl raped is herself as good as dead!? Are they not perpetuating the myth that a woman loses everything when she is physically violated? Are they not making life more difficult for the victim? Is that not why victims turn to suicide? The whole campaign about hanging the rapists does more damage than good.

The focus of this campaign, unfortunately, has neither been about finding the cause of these ever increasing cases of rape nor has been about preventing it. It is so full of emotion, but no reason.

Crime Against Women in India - 2011              Courtesy: savedaughters
 When KPS Gill said those words above, what emboldened him? What could have emboldened him to do what he did with a woman IAS officer? Surely he knows law and that she knows it too. So it is not about punishment. It could only be something ingrained, something very much a part of his being, his daily life, his upbringing. Maybe he just thinks he is entitled, as a stronger sex, as a male. How else could we explain honour killings? The male thinks he is entitled to control the female - wives, sisters, daughters. How they live and who they live with. If the daughters and sisters elope with a lover, they will be killed. Some are beheaded – the taliban way. The boys they elope with will, in turn, get their sisters raped. What a gruesome culture we live in. Can we just hang it, on live TV? I wish it were that simple. According to National Crime Records, in 2011, rapes formed 10.6% of total crimes against women. There are more cases of molestation - 18.8% and even more cases of domestic violence from husband and relatives - 43.4%. As shown, rape is one face of the grave problem.

If an IPS can comment like this, we can imagine how that Delhi bus driver behaved with that educated girl. He must have thought he was entitled to pass lewd comments and physically abuse. When resisted, the male chauvinism his upbringing imbibed him with got threatened and he responded with rage. He might be thinking he was 'teaching her a lesson'. He just extended into the streets the household rule that man has the power over women in the house. He is not an alien. He is a violent brute, but very much the regular Indian.

In the acid attack case above, the police had evidence, they had a confession too. Yet, they preferred not to go by book and set an example. An example of how law would take its own course, convict and deliver justice. Instead they preferred to give instant gratification to the blood-baying public, 4 months before the elections. And in the process, actually strengthened the belief that courts won’t deliver! There is every possibility, the Congress could try something similar now, especially after how they seemed to deny a final appeal to Kasab, before the Gujarat elections. It serves their purpose but does not solve the problem.

Unless there is a broad realization that these crimes against women are not exactly law and order issues and that they stem from a soft discrimination against the girl child that is always prevalent in majority of Indian families, we would not be on a path to solution. Unless the Indian society starts accepting and inculcating a sense of respect and dignity for the female as an equal, things won’t get any better. Unless we put a stop to presenting a woman as an object, as a commodity, or furniture in our popular culture like TV and movies, they would never be seen for persons. And when such crimes occur, what we need is a support system, within and outside law, to cope and get back to normal, not the hue and cry we are seeing now that deludes the into believing that they ran into irreversible bad fate and are doomed for life.

1 comment:

Abhishek Raj said...

Great post!!