Rape and the ugly Indian Such barbarism in a countrythe great indian kamasutra What has been intriguing here has been the intimate relationshipIndia’s girl child cannot breathe anymore the victims will be silenced “naturally and culturally”.
If only India’s other stats – on economy, poverty alleviation, healthcare – grew at the rate crimes against women are climbing up in this country. At an increase of 31% it is exponential. It is also shocking, amazing and ridiculous. A 2006 report by the National Crime Records Bureau said in India a woman is raped every half hour and is killed every 75 minutes. And this is according to 2004 data. Factor in a one-third jump and do the math. Also, make space for the large number of women, perhaps larger than the ones reporting their violation, who keep quiet and bury their shame forever in their hearts for fear of another round of abuse, this time from family, society, police.
Such barbarism in a country that dreams to be a world power and demands every seat at every global high table should indeed be humiliating not only for its leaders but also its people. But few are moved by the plight of half the nation’s population, still living in such dread, such suffocating coexistence. And this in 2009 – the 21st century.
Where do the perpetrators get such courage and confidence from that they stop a running bus, pull out a woman and leave her by the roadside after raping her, that they trap a foreign diplomat and rape her in a car, that they catch hold of a college student and violate her atop a building even as heavy traffic passes by a few feet below? How is it that a cop instead of protecting a young girl shuts her inside a police post and does the unthinkable?
The arrogance mostly comes from a knowledge that in a society like India’s the victims will be silenced “naturally and culturally”. It comes from the deadly and deeply ingrained dynamics of a feudal nation that treats women as second class citizens. And it comes from hundreds of years of brainwashing of the male mind after Manu said women were little better than cattle. Importantly, it derives an insidious power of its own by the silent suffering of women themselves, by their own reluctance to fight for the space they rightly deserve and are perpetually denied.
Top police officers say the number of rape cases reported may not even be a fraction of the one that’s actually committed. Social activists echo this. For every woman who reports her violation, there are 10 who will not speak up. Somehow, the Indian male – and a predominantly male-dominated police and administration – continues to put the onus of the crime, rather incredibly, on the victims: you must have sent some signal; you must have been dolled-up and dressed provocatively; maybe you are crying rape because you have been caught; why did you have to answer nature’s call when you know there could be thugs lurking around; what shame you have brought on us; why you.
This is enough to kill the spirit of most women and for those that can transcend this psychological brutality there is the crude questioning by cops and lawyers, something many victims say is like going through a second rape. Not surprising that they prefer to seal their lips and kill their sense of dignity and honour. And we are not even talking about the numerous others subjected to molestation, groping, eve teasing and degrees of verbal and physical abuse – at the movie hall, in the bus, in crowded bylanes, markets, trains, almost everywhere. As one female colleague who used to take the metro in Kolkata to commute said, “The first time I was groped, I created a ruckus. And fought like mad. But after a few times, it got hard. In any case, the stares you get after that is almost, like, killing. If you are a working woman in India not rich enough to take your own car to office, groping is a routine reality.”
A group of informed citizens have started a cyber campaign against rape, clamoring for stricter laws, including death sentence if it involves minors and handicapped. It’s already got robust support and, clearly, many think it’s a step in the right direction. The courts will have to get stringent – many still persuade the rapist to marry his victim – but there is urgent need for another three-pronged effort. One, investigating agencies will have to be sensitized on how to deal with such cases. Two, society at large will have to change its attitude towards victims and make the leap from judgemental censure to empathy. Finally, women themselves will have to fight their demons and come out in the open about their various abuses.
As we read the news of the five-year old girl child who was brutally raped, battered, traumatized and scarred for life, rage first takes over, followed in quick succession by shame and absolute helplessness. Yet again, it is the same sickening story; as yet another victim is brutally raped by a beast in Delhi, a city that is now deemed to be the rape capital of this country. As we read the horrific details of the crime, our stomachs churn. What this beast has done to the little girl is beyond the imagination of any sane individual and we can possibly never come to grips with this heinous act.
So whom are our politicians blaming this time for what the little girl has been through? Are they ludicrously going to point fingers at this little girl? Was this little girl out at unearthly hours? Was she skimpily dressed? Was she drinking or partying? Are they now going to be putting curfews and restricting little children from playing outside their homes? Our Netas do what they do best, shift responsibility and blame, far away from them. Shinde has said that rapes happen all over India and not just Delhi, nothing as yet about taking action against the police for the atrocious manner in which the case has been handled.
It is most shameful that the Delhi Police commissioner wishes to take no responsibility whatsoever for the lack of sensitivity shown towards the case by the police. It is most shameful that the police commissioner thinks that he is absolutely satisfied with his tenure as police chief. It is most shameful that the police as usual did not do their job on time. It is most shameful that the police did what they usually do to cover their tracks when their lethargy was brought to light by offering the victim’s family Rs 2,000 to keep quiet about the case. It is most shameful that crimes against girls and women seem to increase multifold in India’s crime capital. It is most shameful that Delhi being governed by a woman offers the least protection to the feminine gender. It is most shameful that all are not equal under law in our country. It is most shameful that there is not enough being done to protect children who are the most vulnerable. It is most shameful that we live in a society where the rich and the influential get away with anything and everything whilst it is most shameful that the police do not have time for the poor, thereby creating a shameful situation where there is no parity in implementation of the law. All in all, we need to hang our heads in collective shame for the fault of others, for the fault of those individuals in power and position who have worked hard in creating hellholes in India, holes that are extremely difficult to climb out of. I had previously written “ In a report published by ADR India, it is noted that political parties have given tickets to 27 candidates who contested state elections in the last five years, who have declared that they have been charged with rape. In the last Lok Sabha elections, political parties gave tickets to 6 candidates who declared that they have been charged with rape. In short, the people who govern us are also rapists; they have raped the system in its entirety. Why is there no law in place as yet to stop such beasts from contesting elections? “
We know of the plight of this little girl because it is a reported crime that has received attention from the media. There are thousands of little girls who face sexual, physical and mental abuse in the hands of seasoned predators, these are crimes, which never get reported, and the predators roam free baiting their next victim. The Asian Centre for Human rights in its report on child sexual assault in juvenile homes, terming it quite aptly as India’s hellholes has come up with some staggering facts. It is reported that 48,338 cases of child rape were reported in India from 2001 to 2011. The number of cases reported annually more than tripled during that time, it said, to 7,112 in 2011 from 2,113 in 2001. The cases of child rape have been consistently increasing and India saw an increase of 336% of child rape cases from 2001 (2,113 cases) to 2011 (7,112 cases). At the rate at which we are going, these numbers seem to only but increase.
The onus of protecting our children falls back on us; there is little we can expect from anyone else at this time. If you thought your child is safe with your domestic help, your driver, your relative, your friend, it is time for you to think again. If you thought it is safe for your child to play outside unsupervised, it is time for you to think again. The safety and security of your child is paramount and the state is to be blamed for increasing our fears. Have a talk with your child; spend time with your child. If you don’t have time for your child, it would be the stupidest mistake you are making. Unfortunately, this society has reached a stage where parents have to start developing hawk like behavior in protecting their young ones. We no longer live in a world of innocence, there are more wolves than lambs and many more wolves disguised as lambs. How ironic is it that we live in a country that worships the feminine in the sanctum sanctorum and tramples on her outside of it, stiffling the last breath out of her until India’s girl child cannot breathe anymore.