Nine months after the gangrape and brutal murder of 23 year old Nirbhaya,a Special Court sentenced capital punishment to the four convicts. Nirbhaya’s mother expressed satisfaction over the verdict. “Halak mein saans atki thi, jo ab bahar nikli hai. Mein dhanywaad karti hu desh ke logon ka aur media ka’ (We were waiting with bated breath, now we are relieved. I thank the people of my country and the media)”.
While I am happy that the above four are sentenced to death (though I’d personally have preferred punishments like castrations/flogging etc), what aggravates and affronts me is the fact that the juvenile, the one who caused Nirbhaya the MOST harm is the one sentenced to 3 years in remand. If the guy had the mindset to be able to rape and abuse a person to such an extent, he is most certainly NOT a juvenile. It’s high time the government starts developing a mindset to sentence people based on their crimes, not on their age.
The Rape Culture
Yesterday, we had a discussion in college about this entire “rape culture” that has been prevalent in India over the many years. Many of my friends expressed their views and I can’t help but express a bit of my opinions. What is giving rise to these countless number of rape cases in India? As someone raised abroad, I find it appalling that while the rest of the world is become more progressive and liberal, women in India are still fighting for basic dignity and survival. What is the cause -the man’s inability to control his physical desires? His insecurity and inferiority complex leading them destroy women thereby proving their own so-called “manliness”? Or is it simply the lack of respect for women?
The Blame Game
Some of the great leaders in the country have pin-pointed at the victim saying, “She shouldn’t have dressed in a certain way” or “She shouldn’t have gone out alone at that time”. Why is there a rampant “do not get raped” culture instead of “do not rape”? Don’t we as women, have the right to live a fearless life, to go out at whatever time at we want and where what we want?
Yes, rape is a problem that no country has totally eradicated. Yes, we can never eliminate them, but can we hope to make them a rarity, at least? I am honestly shocked that there is large section of people in the Indian society who still think that rape is seriously about caution and precaution. Why is there such an astounding, regressive and archaic view on rape?
Simply put, rape is committed by men who know that they can make excuses and get away with the crime. Please, let us not further enable them by victim blaming.
I understand as individuals, we are responsible for our own safety. Teaching women self-defense is good and necessary – but that is like treating the symptom and not the disease. If you want rapes to stop – teach your MEN first. Enforcing ethics about safety, caution, modesty or dignity should be equally imposed on both genders. If you are going to ask women not to step out of the house after 9 pm, why not rather mandate all men to stay inside home after 9 pm?
I have had arguments with people before and although nobody will say it outright, they will package it in euphemisms like “she should have shown more caution”.
What precaution? How much precaution? How careful is careful? What should a dead body do to protect itself from rape? Auto-combust upon death? What should an eighty year old widow do to protect herself from rape – commit sati?
When it comes to rape, the question of what could the victim have done otherwise should never ever cross our minds. The only questions should be how do we punish the rapists? How do we prevent rapists from making a joke of the legal system? How can we ensure that our streets are safe for everyone at all time of the day? Why talk of precautions on women’s side? We don’t want prevention, we want CURE. If we stay stuck at precautionary level we would stay there forever. I fear anything much, except rapes, will happen if this precautionary mentality gets inherited.
Being vigilant does not guarantee safety.
Guys – as women most of us are well aware of the risks of being raped. We know certain areas and places are not safe. Most of us do put in an effort into being safe and not being stupid. No woman wants to be belligerent, insensible, stupid and get raped. In fact, most women who were raped didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to put themselves at risk.
I am not in denial of reality – yes, there can never be a “perfect” society but my questions is, when will the society wake up and actually try to change things? When will the society decide that we need to make it safer because at least sometime in the future, some generation of women will have the freedom?
Finally, the biggest thing that pisses me off at a personal level is saying “she could have been safer” after the rape has happened. There is nothing more insensitive and ignorant than that. I can understand someone telling me “don’t do something, – it is risky”. But you never ever tell a rape victim “I told you so”. It should only be about how to punish the criminals and how to prevent men from raping. Discussing what she could have done differently is just demeaning and insulting to the victim, no matter how well the intention.
I agree that it makes sense to take every possible precaution to avert any mishap, at the same time it should be clear that any breach in precaution must not be taken as a justification to commit a crime which is what appears to be happening a lot in India! Being vigilant does not guarantee safety.
A Cultural Problem
Rape is not a cultural problem. It happens worldwide, over culture on different pretexts. It is a human problem. The point is that we talk of how women are perceived in India. We talk of empowerment of women but in reality we all have regressive mindset. 99.9% females in India do not lead lives of their own and simply follow family or social diktat. A double standard culture and a phony morality where woman are considered as properties or commodities. The society needs courage to create a revolution in the minds of women and men about the respective perception of females.
Stricter punishments, fast-track cases and a change in mentality. Respect for women, respect for people in general and for the country you are living in – need to be instilled in every individual. When does it end? Honestly, I don’t have an answer. I am pinning my hopes on revolutionary technology.