Rapes Bludgeon India
By Poonam I Kaushish
Kathua, Unnao, Surat, Etah, Chhattisgarh et al has exposed the Ugly Sexmanic Indian. Wherein young girls are brutally raped and murdered, stripping India of all respect for women, fair-mindedness, equilibrium and tolerance down to the depths of human depravity.
How else does one explain the sleazy saga of 8 year old Asifa who was sedated, repeatedly gang-raped by eight men inside a temple and then murdered in Jammu’s Kathua district in January. Belonging to the nomad Bakarwal community her rape evoked horror, revulsion, disgust and anger. Amidst the outpourings of fury, a teenager was not only sexually assaulted by a BJP MLA in UP but her father who complained killed. On its heels came three other molestations of 8-9 year olds in Gujarat’s Surat, UP’s Etah and Chhattisgarh.
More. A 20-year-old mentally-challenged was gang-raped in a UP train, a 19-year-old mother ravished in front of her husband in Odisha, another defiled by five men in a moving car in broad daylight in Delhi and one more raped in a hospital within hours of giving birth …an 80-year-old grandpa deflowered an innocent five-year-old in Haryana.
Shocked? Not at all. Rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India. Five rapes occur every minute across the country. Daily newspapers scream headlines of young 2,4,8 year old girls raped…89 minors in a moving train. In 2016 Kerala reverberated to another Nirbhaya, a gory rape of a 30-year old woman with her body totally mutilated and last year a leading Malayalam actress was molested and photographed in a moving car by seven men for two hours near Kochi.
Turn North, South, East and West to any mohalla, city or State the story is the same: Sexual innuendoes, overtures, men salaciously salivating on porn, women’s bodies, their sizes and sexual lives to harassment, molestation and rape abounds. Sending petrified shivers down one’s spine. A yovan raj. And we call ourselves a civilized society!
The anger and indignation coursing through the streets of India is palpable. Arguably, it’s not a question of outraging a girl’s modesty, vilification, victimization and protests which worries me. What one is concerned about is whether we have decided to surrender shamelessly to horrendous criminalization? More important, has this brutality stirred our netas conscious? No.
Starting with our loquacious orator Prime Minister Modi who at a drop of a hat tweets yet remains silent when it comes to dangers inflicting women modesty. Certainly, one does not expect NaMo to comment on every incident but herein these cases have brought shame to the country, one expected him to be more erudite.
Instead, in a tepid response he described Kathua and Unnao as “incidents being discussed over two days” adding, “our daughters will definitely get justice. No criminal will be spared. Justice will be done”. Yet his remarks ring hollow, like Nirbhaya’s time when politicians castigated the perpetrators with empty rhetoric, completely disregarding the fact that they have collectively miserably failed time and again in making our cities and environment safe for women.
They close their eyes because they would rather see intricacies of blaring fabrications than ugly cold facts thereby collectively selling their souls for the magnificence of propaganda. Sadly, such is the state of affairs we are immune to women being snatched off the streets and gang raped in moving cars.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau in 2011 there were 24,206 reported rapes case, next year it rose to 24,923 and has been steadily rising 33,707 in 2013 and 37000 the subsequent year. Out of these, 24,470 were committed by someone known to the victim (98% of the cases).
One explanation for this is the skewed sex ratio. Like China, India has a massive sex ratio imbalance. According to the census, the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group has risen from 102.4 males per 100 females in 1961 to 108.9 in 2011. In Modi’s Gujarat, the ratio is 112 boys to 100 girls.
Sociologists call this Bare Branches phenomenon wherein boys are culturally preferred over girls consequently this gives rise to increasing female feticide. Alongside, one gets nothing or little from courts. Disgustingly there are very few rapists who are convicted. Conveniently forgetting that justice delayed (often indefinitely) is justice denied.
True, subsequent to Nirbhaya, a new law stringently defines rape. But has it deterred men to think thousand times before they molest a woman? Certainly not. Happily, the Government has issued an ordinance to allow courts to award death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years.
But none has answered crucial questions: Why are women viewed as sex objects or a plaything for males to satisfy their libido and massage their egos? Have we said goodbye to the rule of law?
Clearly, women and young girls live in an increasingly unsafe environment heavily loaded in favour of men, wherein they are viewed as sex objects and mince-meat for male lust camouflaged as human animals. Several women who face sexual abuse stay quite in order to avoid further harassment or are hesitant to speak fearing they will be dubbed ‘loose charactered’ at best or ostracized at worst. Either which way the damage is done.
Only, last week Tamil Nadu Governor Purohit was in the eye of the storm when in reply to a question he patted the cheek of a woman scribe. Only to apologize later but it was denounced as offensive, sexist and patronizing. Worse, adding fuel bragged a neta, “Just because India achieved freedom at midnight does not mean that women can venture out after dark, they should not wear jeans and exposing clothes.”
Presently, the only functional law for sexual harassment is the Vishaka Guidelines. It states that every institution must have a sexual harassment committee with five members, of which three members should be women, including the chairperson. Based on an oral or written complaint, the committee is supposed to question the accused after examining the witness’s accounts, if any, and/or, other evidences provided by the complainant. If the person is found guilty, depending on the degree of harassment, suitable action must be taken.
Those holding cudgels for men assert, “What we ignore is that men too are harassed. Some women to curry favour make themselves “available”. Or to avenge professional disagreements have lodged complaints of sexual harassment against virtuous men. This is equally disheartening.
Where does one go from here? Clearly our leaders need to pay heed and seriously address that atrocities against women will get worse. For starters, policing laws need strengthening which would deter men to think thousand times before they commit a crime?
In a milieu which has systematically obliterated morality and ethics where incidents of moral turpitude pervade across the country and where our conscience marches past us in perfect synchrony and Indian women lick yesterday’s wounds and wait for tomorrow’s hurt, the time has come to seriously ponder: For how long will women continue to be playthings at the hands of the voyeuristic animals in the garb of men?
A time to introspect and revisit India’s womanhood. Will their lives be plaintive wail: Balatkar akhir kab tak? Eh mere watan ke logon zara aankhon mein bhar lo paani! Or will we break new ground and unshackle women? —— INFA