Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Delhi Awakening

The word rape has various connotations attached with it. It is supposed to be an infliction of shame ,a proof of defenseless, final stage of demoralization and acceptance of total defeat. A working class woman died a cruel death due to this heinous act in Delhi.Massive protests and rallies in Delhi finally succeeded in getting a fast track trial for this case. Has India now woken up to the issue of women's safety and status in society post this event? In fact, we have a long way to go.

Unlike the west , India claims to be a cultured nation where women are respected and worshiped as gods. Though it might sound ironical, it is quite natural for us to see women accepting their subservience to men in many families. Crimes against women are being committed on a daily basis and worse still, they are going unnoticed.Despite odds, women are standing up to the challenge and achieving all spheres of society. In business organisations, education, sports, technology etc they are competing at par with men. Yet their status and safety is an issue of concern to all but the Government. It's rather paternal and lousy attitude was starkly visible during the protests outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Not even a single leader came out and supported the movement in the initial stages of the protests. To make matters worse , some senior leaders of congress brushed away the importance of the issue and made vague comments. The BJP and Congress fought their political battles over this issue and showed the nation where their true interests lie. The sadness swells when one is reminded of the Theek hain attitude of our Prime minister.

Adding to this mess we have Godmen a.k.a Madmen like Asaram Bapu who say that the rape and murder would not have happened if the victim had called the rapists her brothers.The leader of RSS, (another such outfit) says that women must stick to kitchens and homes to avoid rapists. These forces take us only to the dark ages in an era where we are all fighting age old beliefs,  and superstitions. I am very sure that India as a nation condemns these statements and ignores these chauvinists.

Why can't a woman wear what she wants? Does me having one thousand in my wallet be a reason for a thief to pickpocket. The beauty of a women or the sexually provoking dress might attract your attention. People do take off a second and say "wow". But that need not be a reason for somebody to rape her.  Have we lost our minds? Are we animals? There is need for introspection regarding this. Not surprisingly, many women who dress like the typical Indian women are also among victims of rape. So the crime lies in the act of rape and the mind of a rapist. A  woman is not responsible for a man's mental distortion. 

 We are nation with a child-sex ratio of 914 females per 1000 males. The child sex ratio is 866 females per 1000 males in Delhi. Abortion of female fetuses is a rampant and profitable activity among doctors in urban areas. The female child is seen as liability not only among the rural populations but also among the educated urban classes. Whenever it comes to transfer of the husband, it's the woman who is often forced to quit her career. About 600 rape cases have been reported in Delhi alone in 2012 and only in one case has the rapist been convicted. 

A woman who has been harassed often hesitates to lodge a complaint in the first place, in order to secure the dignity of herself and her family. People look down upon the victims instead of being supportive and reassuring. The woman is supposed to be the instigator of this crime by our older generations. Sadly a large percentage of women are silenced by their families.

Secondly, the litigation process in rape cases can be termed as just another traumatic procedure for a women. She is expected to provide evidence and prove the guilt of the accused. The acquittal of the accused in a case only adds to the shame and helplessness of women in many cases. In the light of these facts, one cannot expect the death sentence for rape on papers to make any windfall changes to the scenario.

We must also accept that a large number of heinous acts on women go unreported. The issue comes to the limelight only when it is very dramatic and happens in an important place like Delhi or Bangalore or other metropolises. It is our responsibility to fight for women's safety throughout India, not just the major cities or metropolises.

Though the media catalysed protests are perhaps one of the best things that happened to our democracy, we must not forget that it is the same media that is selling us the half naked bikini babes like Sunny Leone, etc . Though integrity is something very personal, the media seems to be just another opportunistic entity in our elusive democracy , which changes colours as the occasion demands. We need to change our attitudes towards the selling of women and stereotyping of the fairer skin and sensitise our generation to the concept of gender equality and mutual respect. Instead we are reinforcing the attributes of male dominated society on a daily basis. These attitudes make it difficult for India as a nation to reinvent itself as a modern nation and fight the injustice done to women.

Our moment of shame did not begin after the Delhi Gang Rape case. It was already there. Something as gory as this event had to happen to trigger the alarm bells to awaken our sleeping society. Now that we've woken up, let us not go back to the dark ages behind us. This should be an opportunity to address the all injustices meted out to the women of the nation that claims to worship women. The issue of women's safety in metropolises, especially in Delhi is just the tip of the iceberg. 

We saw a great display of solidarity among various sections of the society fighting for a worthy cause. Let this fight reach its logical end where the criminals are punished, further crimes are reduced and the entire racket vying for male dominance find its grave as soon as possible. Let the nation fight against every issue in a similar manner and derive inspiration from this incident.

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