Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Horror of Rape


With stories of rape coming in from very quarter, every one of us need to protest and raise our collective consciousness.  Rapists seem to stalk our everyday life. No one is really spared, the middle aged, the young and even toddlers. When Nirbhaya, a young woman died in Singapore of rape, of brutal assault, and grevious injuries, the nation  went beserk. Moving her to Singapore in her condition was a political decision. A 1000 crore Nirbhaya fund was announced in the Budget for the safety of women. Is it functional yet or is the Government still dragging its feet?Soon after, several rape cases from across the country were reported, many of them gang rapes.
When five year olds and two year olds were raped, sodomised, injured and tortured, our insides burned. The sadistic and horrific sexual assault on a five-year-old in East Delhi  in April, shook the nation and  I could hardly read the reports as my eyes were constantly blurred with tears. Death sentences are too mild for perverted rapists like these. What then is the solution? Are we getting more aggressive and perverted? Is it the rise in the rural- turned- urban population which escalates this figure ? Or, is the media uncovering every one of these heinous crimes, shocking us as never before? Were these incidents very much there in the old days, but covered with a veneer of respectably, while the skeletons of child abuse rattled in the cupboard?
While we are merely addressing the symptoms of this rape epidemic in our country, we are not sufficiently probing into the actual cause of  the persistent disease which has to be stricken from its very roots. I see pornography as one of  the causes, raising the male libido to a great level. Where  porn was available in the form of blue films officially banned but nevertheless surreptiously watched, today it is a free for all, porn sites are there in plenty accessible to young children and teenagers. Some of our movies are violent, holding up killing and aggression as heroics.  And last of all though I might sound very old fashioned or prudish our young girls today, even in a conservative city like Chennai wear shockingly revealing clothes. Mini shorts or skirts, spaghetti tops, low cut blouses  to reveal  the cleavage are just some of the modern attire.
I frequently tell the young girls in my family that they have to be careful what they wear when they are using public transport or walking on the road. You cannot afford to be provocative.  Men of a different class view the girl who is scantily dressed as one who is inviting a sexual dalliance, as they are not used to seeing women dressed immodestly. This does not rule out men of a  higher class who views the modern woman as one who is sending out subliminal cues through her dressing like “Look at me. Catch me if you can.”
The dressing down craze is creeping into the minds of young maids. Nobody wants to look outdated, so they switch to the ubiquitous salwar kameez which proclaims modernity, but covers the body. Now the necklines have started plunging and “low backs” are a must. My maid who is extremely fashionable, laments the fact that I wear high necked blouses and brushes off my age as something insignificant. Her back neckline plunges so low that only two inches of blouse are seen and oodles of flesh revealed…. thankfully restricted to her back. I insist she drapes her pallu over her back if she is walking home unescorted.
There is something graphically wrong with a society which cannot guarantee the safety of its women and children. Our tourism will ultimately get sorely affected when people realize that India is not a safe place for women as in the recent past, foreigners have been at the mercy of rapists.  We have unfortunately a broken system where the initial horror and public outrage converges into a placidity and drawing room conversations before dissipating totally.
You don’t have to look carefully to find that the law and order system, beginning with the judiciary and filtering to the police, is quite flawed. The Government needs to take up some responsibility and introduce fundamental reforms which will include counseling, delinquent homes, psychiatry and stringent laws to enforce discipline. Legalising prostitution with protection for the sex workers may be another solution where lust can be vented.
Sociologist Manas Ray from the  Centre of Social Studies Kolkatta says the rise in rape can be partly interpreted as the anger of the urban poor where women and children become easy targets. “It is more a power issue than sexual gratification”, says psychiatrist Aniruddha Deb of Kolkata.
What can the common man do? Protect your children and women. Don’t invite trouble, we can’t afford not to be too careful.  Protest in any form that you know. Bring to the attention of the media/ police/government any cases that you personally know. Don’t adopt the “nothing works” attitude. Let your voice be heard.

By safeguarding your women and children you are safeguarding the nation.

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