Friday, July 13, 2012

Rape of Shame

"Don't walk alone on the streets, it's not safe."

"Don't wear skirts, you may provoke somebody."

"Don't talk to boys, you may give them wrong ideas."

"Don't speak out your mind, you may be wrongly labelled."

Common sentences, aren't they? These are the instructions given to all females belonging to "respectable" families so that they maintain that "respect" and "honor" of their family. Sometimes it makes me wonder, what do "honor" and "respect" really mean?

According to wikipedia, honor is an abstract concept entailing a perceived quality of worthiness and respectability that affects both the social standing and the self-evaluation of an individual or corporate body such as a family, school, regiment or nation. In more simpler terms, how you yourself, as well as others perceive you.

It is common on the papers these days to see at least 2-3 rape or molestation cases daily. These are only the reported ones. There must multiple others which are not published in the media. There would be even scores of others where the victim keeps quiet or rather is forced to accept her fate and close her mouth to uphold this so-called honor of her family. Which leads me to the question which has been bothering me and countless of like-minded people. 

"How is it that the victim of a rape case is dishonored while the perpetrator is still honorable?"

The mindset has been also fuelled by our film industry. In so many movies we have seen or rather heard the dialogue "Balatkaar se ladki ki izzat loot gayi." ("The girl has lost her honor/respect as she has been raped."). Does that mean the victim of this horrendous crime is responsible for bringing upon herself this fate? Does that mean just because she chooses to dress herself or behave as she deems proper, it gives the perverts out there on the streets the right to sexually assault her? Who's really lost his/her honor here? The person who can't control his sexual desires, or the one who chooses to live the way she wants?

Many argue that most of the rape cases involve the victim dressing "provocatively", displaying portions of anatomy which are best deemed hidden. Though I don't agree with this point, even if we deem this to be true, how then, do you explain the rapes of children, the minors who haven't even reached the stage of puberty yet, some not even touching 5 years of their lives? What is so "provocative" about a little child, who now would have to grow up with the world around her telling her that she is unclean and dishonored, just because some pervert out there vented his sexual frustration on her.

The latest shame is the incident that occurred in one of the most busy places of Guwahati in Assam. Just because a girl in her late teens protested against a drunk man filming a video of her friend, she was molested by a group of 20 men in full public view, the proof of which everybody must have seen by now either on the internet or on the news channels. She was groped, slapped and stripped openly and what everybody did was just stand and enjoy the "scene". 

News channels spent hours debating whether the journalist who filmed the entire crime was correct in doing so, making a public show of the girl's plight. But thanks to his presence of mind, all the guilty have been easily identified, their photos have gone viral on facebook and even hoardings have been put up in Guwahati with their faces. While morally it may be wrong to film such a scene, if he hadn't done so, the guilty would have been moving around scot-free while the victim would have deemed as an object of shame by the society.

A news channel asked the question, "Have we become a nation of onlookers?" Sadly, I have to say yes. When such crimes can happen in the busiest of areas in full public view, and it takes the police 30 minutes to reach the spot after being notified, and a further 4 days before any arrests made, it shows a very sorry state of affairs. One cannot point fingers only at the law enforcers. All the people who stood there watching without moving a muscle are equally guilty. Some people tried to help her (including the journo who filmed it) and were beaten and abused themselves. Still the gut-less public stood and watched. Why?? Because it's not our job to help those in trouble, it is the police's, in the meantime let me watch the show live.

The power of the internet and websites like facebook and youtube was flexed, and 3-4 days after the incident, the "let-us-condemn-it" virus spread among our "honorable" leaders. So what if the administration does not have the balls to implement the laws, everybody can easily redeem themselves by condemning these incidents.

"The incident was unfortunate. We condemn it and strong action would be taken."

"It is the rarest of rare cases. We thoroughly condemn it."

"The perpetrators will not go scot free. They will pay for their crime. The public must condemn it."

Now that scientists have discovered the God-particle, it's time they discover the power of condemnation and develop a way where criminals would be punished just by sheer condemnation. Easy and quick way of justice, isn't it? So when the crime is reported, the police can just pick up a phone and call the politicians, who would just utter a statement, "I CONDEMN IT" and whoooshhh....the criminal disappears to the lowest levels of hell.

I wish things were as simple as that. 

We have become a society with the chalta-hai attitude. It is okay if a third of our MP's have criminal cases including charges of murder and rape against them. But if a victim of a crime chooses to move-on, he/she is pulled back by society and reminded continuously of their fate. We are helpless when it comes to punishing the guilty, but we love to further victimize the victim. Lay all the blame on the victim, after all she brought it on herself, she asked for it.

To those making irresponsible statements, I would like to ask you, what if it was your mother or sister who was the victim and not some unknown female? Would you have said the same thing?

As a society, we turn to our leaders for inspiration. And such strong leaders we have. They provide such strong condemnation. Dumb-asses the public are who underestimate the sheer power of condemnation. How can the Singh who is supposed to be the king bother about such trivial cases when he's busy following the orders of his Mem-saab and plotting new ways to screw our economy. How can you expect the elder sister who's occupied by the ghosts of opposition conspiracies and Maoists to have time to look over incidents in Park street? It's tough being leaders you know. But despite their busy schedules, they provide such strong condemnations, isn't that enough?

Since all the leadership is totally busy, it comes to the police, the protectors of law and order to salvage some pride. C'mon guys, we know that you have it in you to bring the guilty to book. Show some balls, which obviously the "leaders" lack, and punish the criminals. If you can't catch them, when you have full video proof of the crime (mind you, the faces of the criminals are razor sharp in the video) then I feel sad to say that it is of no use paying our taxes so that they can pay you your salaries. I mean, why should I work, so that you can relax?

Sometimes I feel that the public should be allowed to take law in its own hands. But that would be an irrational option as it can set a very bad precedent. The law takes its own course at a snails pace, but it is one of the few systems in this country that works. It is high time now that the tag of being "dishonored" is shifted from the victim to the criminal. Keep harsh punishments for harsh crimes. A death sentence would be too easy on the criminal. Castrate them and make it public news. Let them be the ones to face humiliation instead of the victim. Let it be a deterrent, so that the next time when a pervert even thinks of raping a female, he should know that what he is about to do can make him lose his balls.

Now that some of my anger has been vented out, I would like to state that this rant of mine is a result of sheer disturbance that I felt when I saw the news yesterday evening. I am NOT sorry if I have hurt any sentiments, because my own sentiments have been continuously hurt when I read such news daily. If a certain Kapil also wants to censor this, go ahead, we will censor you when the election time comes. Some people need to know that you cannot take the public for granted. Women are responsible for bringing us into this world, and if we cannot learn to respect them, well, we don't deserve a place on this planet.