Today, I wanted to write. And then I wondered how many times I was going to rant about rape in this country. How many times I was going to emphasise on the fact that every day I feel a little less safer in this country. My social networking pages are clogged with statuses and photos asking for capital punishment for those six men who gang-raped a girl on a moving bus. The incident has even moved those apathetic people who, most of the time, have no idea what is going on in their country. Many of these posts claim that we Indians are passive and don't really get out on the streets or express our anger towards these atrocities. Little do they forget that all this while they are the ones who have been passive and oblivious to the many attempts that citizens have made to voice their dismay in light of the growing incidence of rape in the country.
The heterogeneous nature of these posts amazes me. There are a few ideas that are dominating, the most prominent being those in favour of capital punishment and castration. How is that a solution? How is such a violent punishment any solution? Dig a little deeper and you will find that in Delhi, the abundance of this crime is due to many loopholes in the system and society. Only a small percentage of it is contributed by the lack of a more trusting judicial system.
I have always opposed the use of death penalty but what is most wrong with this method is that what people want is to get rid of the criminal rather than the crime – to get rid of the problem at hand rather than the root of the problem. Instead, what we need is to rethink our ways of education and outlook. There is so much that contributes to a society that flourishes with sexual violence. Our outlook is outdated and largely dominated by judgement. The men and women who contribute to stereotyping another as “easy”, stripping them of dignity without more than just a glance. Those who will question the attire, the place, the caste, the family life and the choices of the survivor of such a gruesome crime. The society that prohibits its men and women from interacting with each other until a certain age and then throws them into a bed with a complete stranger. The naive society that glorifies its stronghold on the lack of sexual expression and yet considers Bollywood item numbers as glamorous and ultimately wonders why there is rampant sexual violence.
The worst part of this entire episode is that we have all gone on a man-hating, woman sympathising spree. We are talking about violence against women. About the safety of women. About how this entire thing is about the way our culture treats women. At this point, it would be the most obvious thing to also question and stand up for the the safety of and the violence against the men. But this is where I believe we are all lost. It is not about men and women. It is about a crime against humans, a black mark on humanity itself. No human being, regardless of gender, should be treated like this.
A friend of mine put up a very interesting status on the issue suggesting that Delhi rapists must stop raping because they are giving feminists a reason to get things their way:
“I guess it should be made official. Delhi – The most dangerous city in the world for women! Heinous, atrocious and merciless monsters dwelling in the place. Time and again hearing the same news again and again. Thank you Delhi rapists, you're giving the feminists exactly what they need – stringent laws meant for women against men. Laws where even false accusations count in any other safe city or any part of India because of what happened in NCR/Delhi. Bravo, bravo! Thanks to Delhi rapists, the threat of feminist laws would be the order of the day for the entire nation's innocent men. Sentiments from an anti-feminist.”
Firstly, this guy has got the meaning of feminism completely wrong. Feminism is the belief that men and women are equal or gender equality. I understand there are feminists out there whose ideas are simply repulsive but to completely misunderstand the word feminism is sheer stupidity. I agree that the literal term may be misguiding but a little research will lead you to discover that feminism is not pro-woman and anti-man, rather it is adhering to standards of gender equality. Sexual violence is not a women's rights issue. It is a human rights issue. Completely and wholly a human rights issue. The more we exclude the plight of men and focus on a woman's rights in a society like ours, we encourage exclusion. The only way forward is inclusion.
I'd like to keep up with the composed and tempered style in which I have, in the past, penned down my frustrations but at the moment, nothing seems to shake off the anguish that has filled me with this incident. What irks me more is the overwhelming response. In the past we have had the death of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez, the many incidents of rape in Delhi leading to an imposition of a curfew, the gang-rape of a student in National Law School Bangalore, courts not recognising marital rape as a crime, khap panchayats blaming chowmein and countless similar incidents. Did it take this one girl and her friend's brutal torture for you to wake the fuck up?
While I am glad that this incident has finally pushed the media to relevantly deal with and question on the subject, I fear that this too shall pass like the many instances of sexual violence that we have seen on the news. I fear that these stories will come and go as fads for us to exercise armchair activism and at the end of it we too shall contribute to it. What happened to that girl, her plight was not only in the hands of those six men. It was in our hands too. Our society is but a reflection of our thoughts. How often do we walk through the streets, get felt up and walk away in silence? How often do we see other people get teased and molested and walk away in silence? If we don't do so now, at some point we have contributed with our silence. At this point I urge you to not lose the anger, wake up and scream. No more silence.
In the words of a friend, it is not the end of the world we are approaching, it is the end of humanity.