The burst of outrage and the leaderless demonstration and protest in New Delhi against the gang rape of a young woman in a Delhi transport bus has been a windfall to the media in terms of ratings. I would not be surprised if they juxtapose commercials of condoms in between the coverage and programs on the appalling incident. The opposition politicians, sans party lines voiced ridiculous demands and expressed angst. The government in power which displays astounding imbecility in all things except corrupt practices and sleaze was irritated by the protest, which according to them was much ado about nothing.
Certainly rape is not an endemic scourge confined to India. The ravishing of women has been man’s vicarious pleasure from ancient times in human history. The Roman attitude towards women and rape was that of property felony against the husband or the lord of the house. The rape and suicide of the Roman noble woman “Lucretia” triggered the rebellion that is said to have overthrown the Roman king and paved the way for the Roman Republic.
I happened to read the poignant article of Kevin Alfred Strom,” Ravishing the Conquered Women of Europe”. To say that the feeling it gives is distressing, is a misnomer. The depth of revulsion at the human race which we represent is fathomless – library.flawlesslogic.com/massrape.htm.
Rape as a weapon of war has been in use since early human times. Lust, liquor and loot were the offer for the victorious. This was taken to horrendous proportions by the victorious allies in Europe after the Second World War. Since history is always dictated by the Victor, atrocities piled on the vanquished are seldom known.
The wide spread anguish and outrage that is now a phenomenon in Delhi over the past few days has not even in this age of instant visual beaming by television channels, provoked such demonstrations in other parts of the country. About a year ago a woman in her late teens was pushed off a running train in God’s Own Country- Kerala and raped before being killed by the lone rapist. Not to be left behind, recently a father was arrested for repeatedly raping his adolescent daughter. Local channels are all with such distressing news 24 x 7.Tender age doesn’t seem to be deterrent for physical abuse. Infants, teenagers and the aged are at equal risk- be it in the sanctuary of the home or outside the walls of the house. This is when one has to acknowledge that it is not power and subjugation alone that is behind the mindset of a rapist or a molester. How could a father engage in such demonic acts on his child?
The matter that looks rather perplexing is the sudden out-pour of anger after the Delhi gang rape. Rape is a daily occurrence by the hour .Not to forget even men are sodomised and raped. In Kerala a former Marxist Chief Minister was quoted to have said that in the USA, rape is as casual and common as having a cuppa. This was a Communist’s reaction to the mass abuse of a woman in Kerala.
Why is it that the unbridled anger that we now see not directed to the systematic abuse of women by the State? Be it the questionable powers given to the paramilitary and army personnel in the North East resulting in rape of women by security forces (seldom reported to the outside world); the outrage the disciplined (sic) Indian army continues to commit on women in Kashmir; the rape and murders of tribal women in the central heartlands of India by the Para military deployed against the Maoist?
Moving buses, speeding trains or police stations, the safety of women is not going to be secured. Firstly, because the male psyche finds excuses on her dress codes and her presence in a particular place at a given time. This fantastic theory is seconded by the likes of Sheila Dixit, pathetically herself a woman, who was quoted to have questioned the indiscipline of the gang rape survivor in being outside her home at that unearthly hour of 9.30 at night. Even after the Supreme Court ruling to the contrary the survivor is placed in a situation where she has to prove she is not guilty of provocation and of loose morals. The court also has stated that non-consensual sex even among spouses can be seen as violation of woman’s right. Because a woman goes the way of harlot, it does not give man or the social order the right and impunity to violate her. Either the learned court is ahead of our times or we insist that we would like to confine in barbaric social laws and notions.
Political clout of the perpetrator or his long hands reaching high places will ensure that the investigating agency- the police re- writes the sordid saga with the victim as the villain and profane. The rest will be handled by the incorrigible lies that barristers of the defendant orate in court rooms, tarnishing the victim and shredding her character to smithereens. The sanctuary law provides is deftly used by the practitioners of the law to vilify and pillories the victim and ensure the case is dismissed or the accused gets away with a knock on the knuckle.
What assurance can a rape survivor hope for even from an all women police posse who would taunt and lambast her for a “putain”? The social acceptance by her family her spouse and his family? Are young men noble hearted and chivalrous to descend and grab her by the waist and speed away on horseback? How many among the outraged young men demonstrating in Delhi are disposed with the audacity and are knightly to offer the survivor, solace, love and security of a home?
We are missing the woods for the trees. The fact that has to be acknowledged is that the fire has been burning since the dawn of man – rape and violence against woman is not a nascent phenomenon taking cue from Bollywood flicks. Sexual violation on women and the insensitive assault on the hapless young woman in the Delhi bus was only a tiny aspect in the anarchy and decadence that has set in man’s mind. State sponsored tyranny is another extension. It is not that all is well with man and sexual abuse of women is the only pernicious issue, an exception that has to be immediately corrected.
The means suggested for this is equally anarchic like the act itself. Castration, death penalty and so on that are vociferously demanded can be also extended to other crimes. Why not amputation of the limb for larceny, stoning to death for adultery?
The reason why the spontaneous protest in Delhi lost its halo was because of obstinate demands and emotional statements on punishments that have to be legalised. Bringing down the insensitive government to act has other means that are democratic. Why not vigils at the India Gate like the ones in Tahir Square, Tiananmen Square or even the Wall Street? Instead vociferous calls for immediate and unconditional action from the authorities like the pigheadedness of the Anna Hazare bandwagon will only eventually result in the movement against sexual abuse of women whimpering out.
And women will continue to be ravished.