Monday, 17 December 2012

Another gangrape in Delhi, how will we act?

My prayers are with the 23-year-old physiotherapist who was gang raped in a moving bus, beaten with a blunt object, stripped and pushed out of the vehicle and left to die on the road in Delhi on December 16. Her friend, who was accompanying her, was also beaten up and thrown out of the bus. The young woman is battling for her life. I hope she recovers to see justice done to her.

Such cases have become the norm in the city. They are just happening so often. And it is spreading to other parts of the country. In this blog a lot has been said about this societal illness that grips Indian society today.

On the television show, Newshour, last night, Arnab Goswami repeatedly asked if women in Delhi feel safe. He wanted women to call in. There was just one woman caller from Delhi. What can the women in Delhi say? It has been said just so often - Delhi is extremely unsafe and unfriendly to women. As a woman who has grown up and lives in this city, I say - A woman always feels insecure in Delhi. Never mind the fact that we have a woman for a chief minister, and many women occupying important and high posts as ministers and in the bureaucracy.

For the rot is in the minds of the society. (Check out this story) It is the whole way in which  women are viewed that translates into their inhuman treatment. Killed by parents in the womb when they discover that the foetus is female; neglected as a girl child (the best the family can afford goes to the boy and it is the leftovers for the girl); made to feel like an object, whose sole purpose in life is to be a good wife and daughter-in-law;  treated shabbily by the law-enforcing agencies, so badly that she is scared to enter a police station to even complaint. And if she does, the custodians of law may misbehave with her. Lax laws and judgements that make a mockery of her plight.

Delhi, overrun by men from areas where the khap panchayats rule, by classes that have no value for a female life, it is no wonder that India's capital can be called The Rape Capital. A couple of rape cases are reported everyday. Many, many must be going unreported.

What should be the punishment for the rapists? I will not say "Let the law take its course", for justice in India like its law enforcers have shown scant respect for women. Cases take years to be tried and then the accused cannot be brought to book as the police often fails to properly record the case and collect evidence. And even when they do, the judge may take a warped view and let the acused off. So the message society gets - It is okay to misbehave with a woman! That is how we show our manhood!

So what should be done? The women of the city and concerned citizens have to step in. Shame the rapists. Picket in front of their houses. Let everyone know who they are. Demand that they be thrown out of their jobs, ensure that if they are unmarried, no one ever marries their daughter to them, ever. A convicted rapist should be debarred from a government job for the rest of his life. And private organisations pressurised not to employ them ever. This can be ensured by women's groups and neighbours. The punishment meted out by the society should be a deterrent in itself. The way things are in India today, only the society can act. Only it can ensure that the rapists never live in peace.

Some earlier posts on the issue in this blog -
Justice dispensers - Who will make them see sense?
Rape fastest growing crime in India

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