Thursday, 22 August 2013

Of sexual harassment and gang rapes in India

Another gang  rape. This time in Mumbai. Mumbai, as I used to know it way back in the mid-Seventies was a secure place for women. Unlike Delhi, I could stay out late, board a late night bus, which I often did after my office duty as a journalist, and feel safe. Unlike Delhi, the men in Mumbai were better behaved. They did not grope and pass lewd comments. They were comfortable with women around and did not make them feel like strange objects to be stared at. A taxi driver once went out of his way to drop me to my destination during a particularly heavy monsoon shower, when the city had become waterlogged and came practically to a halt. My attempts at waving taxis to stop was proving futile, for they all had passengers. And then he came along. He told me he was on his way home, but he would drop me at my place, which was in a different direction. To my great surprise he did not ask me for any extra fare.

That was the Mumbai I knew, a safer city for women. But over the years, instead of becoming better, it has deteriorated, become an unsafe metro. This ghastly crime, as well as the New Year assaults on women, show that the city of  Mumbai has sunk to the same pit as Delhi!

This comes soon after a Canadian student on a study tour of India, described her harrowing experience of being in India. What she described and what has driven her into depression so severe that she has to seek treatment for  it, is what Indian women face day in and day out. It is the price they have to pay for "stepping out" of their homes into work spaces, or just to enjoy a movie or eat out. The sad tragedy is that the criminals get seldom punished. Eight months later, despite a fast track special court and the public outrage, the bunch of men who raped the Delhi girl on a bus, are still to be punished. One demon ended his life. Probably he was shamed to face the world! We have had some people clamour for showing leniency to another who was not yet 18! But the act he committed was not an act any child would commit. The hearings are still on.... We are awaiting punishment for the gang of goons. The state has yet to act on behalf of a young girl who lost her life in a most brutal way and her friend who was beaten up. And as we wait, another gang rape.

Why doesn't India act decisively for once? And tell the women that it cares for them!

6 comments:

Alexandra said...

Yes, yet another gang rape - a sword in the heart as Jyothi still hasn't gotten justice yet.
I agree that the laws need to change, but what's more important is societal attitudes particularly from many Indian men wherein many are raised to be so emotionally constipated that the only way they can express themselves is through violence, and overpowering women. And so many women being sexually harassed every day in plain public view, and everybody chooses to look away? Silence is unacceptable..

Shree Venkatram said...

In total agreement with you Alexandra. The rot is deep indeed. Of course, violence against women exists in other parts of the world, but you see a particular savagery in India. How else can you explain the lewd comments, the sexual harassment that is part of a daily life of a woman in India and the gang rapes?
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Prof(Dr.) RamaKumar,V said...


5. Gang rape is a work of a sick mind compounded by group behavior or gang mentality (“Allellomimetic behavior”). This need immediate quarantine and suitable treatment. In cases where treatment is unlikely to be rewarding (like hardened/ repeat rapists) euthanasia (mercy killing) has to be considered to limit the spread of the malady to vulnerable members of the society, especially a generation that fails to get proper parenting and care during their childhood or early adulthood. Brutality is a mental aberration or sadism could be related to post traumatic stress disease (PTSD).
6. Capital punishment and quicker judgment can be effective deterrents. But hanging need be limited to incurable cases for two reasons a) defense would try using immense legal acrobatics and unethical means to resist this punishment b) hanging will give the criminal a death without pain. Punishments like flogging or methods that can be make culprits suffer pain and torture of similar grade as they mete out to victims and companions could be effective. In more hardened offence law may opt to castrate the offender temporarily or permanently. This will be a model of punishment that may be deterrent.
7. Anyone who prevents or advises a person against going to work at late hours or wearing a dress of choice is impeding the right to work irrespective of cast, sex or region as provided in constitution (article 14, 19 and 21).
8. Sexual behavior is explained by Dr. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) a medical doctor and pioneer of clinical psychology. But in Germany itself some his theories were suppressed or dismissed as vulgar or unnatural.
9. Dr. Freud developed some influential theories in modern psychology and psychoanalysis. His division of the mind into the conscious and unconscious components drove research on the brain to specific motivations of our behaviors to new levels of abstraction in human thought. He developed a three-tier theory of personality which developed at different stages of life. According him, every man is born with a criminal instinct or desire to snatch. Psychologists also say that way in which a guilty can get away from punishment or get punishment delayed or reduced would encourage the vulnerable members of the society to adopt criminal means. Politicization of the crime and the absence of “role models” may encourage crime. Rape especially gang rape must be differentiated from all other anomalous actions and dealt effectively and rapidly
Prof (Dr.) Ramakumar,V.

Prof(Dr.) RamaKumar,V said...

1. Discussions in media on rape especially the gang rape are never specific. The Issues get mixed up with other sexual interactions, thus,-.
a) some pointed out that mature males has no opportunity to meet needs when physiologically excited and/ or
b) that girls appearing some dress excite males.
c) girls should not opt to work late or in mod dress. Apparently, they blame it on a constitutional right to work for a living (article 38).
d) Some activists support minor rapists and blame it on “state’s” failure to protect youth from bad influences.
2. All such arguments only divert attention, delay punishment and favour pardon. If poverty leads to crime, 34% poor of the country (call them BPL) would do “gang rape” and brutally assault them to muffle any victim or companion from complaining. Juvenile Law does not bestow a minor with the right to crime. Parents of the accused, who fail to do parenting, misuse this argument and/ or blame it on govt.
3. No victim of reported rapes was provocatively dressed. A boldly dressed girl is more often avoided by a cowardly male. Low/ no opportunity to access physiological need is not exclusive to male; a female too has desire. But men being gang raped is not seen reported. [Using the same analogy, can we justify the hungry stealing food stuff or the poor looting bank?
4. Sexual exploitations in office, Pinching in a crowded bus or train, Child abuse, incest sex, eve teasing, staring or passing comments are discussed to project gang rape as a natural male oppression provoked by dress, “survival of the fittest”, “expression of an alpha male” or “dominant gene alleles”. Equating rape to other forms of sex linked assaults is born out of poor/ incomplete knowledge about sex or sexuality and is misleading. Many show gang rape as a handicap shrouded with mystery, fantasy or secrecy.
5. Gang rape is a work of a sick mind compounded by group behavior or gang mentality (“Allellomimetic behavior”). This need immediate quarantine and suitable treatment. In cases where treatment is unlikely to be rewarding (like hardened/ repeat rapists) euthanasia (mercy killing) has to be considered to limit the spread of the malady to vulnerable members of the society, especially a generation that fails to get proper parenting and care during their childhood or early adulthood. Brutality is a mental aberration or sadism could be related to post traumatic stress disease (PTSD).

Shree Venkatram said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shree Venkatram said...

Professor, You make many important points. The way I see it -- 'minor' sexual offences if ignored send a message that the society condones such behaviour. This leads to the most ghastliest of sexual crimes -- the gang rape. This is when a group of men think it is 'fun' to subject a person to sexual violence, or that they need to teach the woman 'a lesson'.
Society must send out strong messages that such behaviour is just not allowed. Those who indulge in it would have to pay a stiff price in terms of their personal freedom.
Unfortunately our society views these offences very leniently. Women suffer in silence for they are taught not to talk about them for a misplaced 'shame' is heaped on them and their families. The rules have to change. A sexual offender and his parents are the ones who should be shamed!
Really tragic that the juvenile in the Delhi gang rape has got a mere three years in a reform home for the gruesome act. His acts were totally depraved. He must be kept in an isolated cell and not allowed to mingle with others. I shudder to think of the influence he would be having on the other boys in the juvenile home. We are creating more criminals, instead of curbing crime.

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