No, it is not okay.
Usually I refrain from commenting on current affairs in this blog. This blog is a ‘happy’ place, a slice of positivity and it has been a conscious effort to keep it so.
But the recent brutal rape of the 23 year old girl has really got to me and I feel compelled to write this post.
What occurred on the night of 16th December can only be described as dehumanizing, horrific, brutal, non-condonable and that will only be putting it mildly.
What causes rape? How can it be prevented?
The answers to this are multiple, in several layers and would be very varied, depending on who was answering this question. There have been umpteen discussions and hundreds of articles written on this.
From bad parenting, to societal conditioning, to the knowledge that you can get away with it, to the laws that are not so stringent and the worst of all to the attitude that ‘the woman deserved it, after all she was out late with her boy friend’ are some of views which have been aired, some vociferously and some silently, on media and social platforms all across.
The men accused of committing this brutal act were all uneducated and from the slums. There was a bus-driver, fruit seller and a gym instructor. They were all between the ages of 25-33.
But what totally shocks me is the attitude that even the most educated men in our society seem to hold. A few years back, I was discussing ‘Why Delhi is unsafe for women’ with a friend who is from one of the ‘branded educational institutions’ that our country boasts of. This friend’s view was that if Indian women were a little more ‘accommodating’ when it came to sex, the rape incidents would come down. Speechless? Well, so was I. But I did think about it.
Another friend’s husband told her, “See? This is why I tell you not to go out late, alone.” Never mind that this is working woman who might need to stay out late because of work, who has a high-flying career and has travelled the world over and her husband too is a highly educated professional, who is very intelligent, sharp and ‘upwardly mobile’. The solution to the problem in his mind, was to make her stay at home, so she is ‘safe’.
But I am not for a moment blaming the educated Indian men. On Facebook, I saw a comment made by a woman who was obviously upset about the gang-rape. She said “Why rape women. What are prostitutes there for?” I read it twice in disbelief.
Nobody deserves to be raped. I am all for legalizing prostitution, in fact. It would at the very least improve the working conditions of sex-workers in India. There are more than 3 million women in India, who work as prostitutes and 1.3 million among them are under-age. (But I am not addressing that here. That will call for another post)
What needs to change is a mind-set. It is only in India, that words like ‘eve-teasing’ are used. We need to acknowledge that there is no ‘teasing’ here. It is plain harassment. By coining up a silly term like ‘eve-teasing’ one is diluting the graveness of the issue. Groping a woman is NOT okay. Please get that clear. Respect her. She is more than a pair of boobs or a cute ass. She is more than her body.
In India, we still have a bias towards the male child. Kerala which is a matriarchal society boasts of an excellent sex ratio of 1084 women per 1000 men. It is the highest in India.The lowest ratio is in Haryana and Delhi which have a pathetic 877 and 866 women per 1000 men. In Chandigarh it is even lower, where it is 818 women per 1000 men. Delhi also witnesses more rapes than the next five metros put together. These numbers say something about the mind-set , doesn’t it?
In India, we also have ministers making statements like ‘women should dress modestly’. This is another thing which infuriates me. What about the thousands of women in villages who get raped? They wear sarees and traditional clothes. Rape is never about what the victim wears.
The only thing that can help curb this horrendous menace which is a threat to every Indian woman is a sea-change in attitude. Extreme laws like castration if a guy is caught raping, would also serve to be a great deterrent. The rapist should be made an example of. He should be shamed and should reget it for the rest of his life.
There really is no excuse for rape.
And meanwhile all I can do is say a prayer for the girl who continues to fight for her life and is in critical condition, at the time of publishing this post.