We have seen in a series how people have tried to abuse women on one pretext or the other. In the recent history, Visakha happened, that changed the outlook towards women at workplaces, then happened the heart lamenting Nirbhaya, which taught us that all the girls who go out with young gentlemen in the night are not to be branded as prostitutes. The Nirbhaya incident also made all of us think about the safety of the numerous lovely young ladies we know, and the government passed certain amendments that altered the age limit for trying the juveniles and changed the IPC as well. This did not happen to bring an overall end to the offences against women, but yes, the awareness about the issues and the reporting has led to a movement in support of the victims.
We as people, tend to blame the rise in the incidents of rape on the lack of effective policing, and ineptitude of our leaders, which are contributing factors but not the only cause of the same. Even some of the most deep psychological impressions that we are brought up with are the starting point of victimisation of women. The precedence of a male over the females is the point of genesis which relays to the mind of the perpetrator that being born as a male, he has an inherent right to reprimand, manhandle, and offend a woman. We often tend to attach the honour and pride of our social existence (identified by clan, community, caste and etc) with the chastity, and person of our sisters, daughters and mothers. While Indian women like PV Sindhu, Navjot Kaur, Mary Kom, Chanda Kochhar are promoting the brand India globally, the horrifying incidents like Kathua, Unnao and Amethi show the dark side of the Indian feminism and women empowerment.
The author happened to be asked by a German visitor once, why is there hardly a woman Prophet or saint in the world. The answer simply lies in the presence of numerous checks, and barriers that our women have to pass through in this patriarchal society to establish themselves. Even today, what a man might achieve in a series of 5 effortless years, a woman may take more to do the same while trying to tackle the society at the same time. This is not just the trait of the eastern countries but even in the western countries we find these follies a prevalent.
Womanism is not to be described as a narrative of showing how equally competent a woman can be while doing the things that a man may do, but how competent a woman can be while dealing with the patriarchal nihilists who react in the name of clan, caste, creed, and community and what all not, while at the same time shouldering the responsibilities of the roles attached to women. It will be a bad world after all to live without the lovely women we live with, like our mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, and not to mention our spouses, while they are busy doing the man of the hour episodes.
The child who was raped in Kathua, and the people who came out in support of the incident citing sectarian views about the Bakerwals versus Hinduism, were no less than the Taliban extremists who slaughtered educated women in Afghanistan, just because women are not to be educated! It is another folly that these people were patronised by people in high offices like the President of the Jammu and Kashmir Bar association and the BJP MLAs, who happened to come out in full support of the incident and evangelized the atrocity by deploying the ‘Hinduism in danger’ jargon to the masses.
Again in Unnao,where an MLA was accused of raping a young lady, had found some support from the AG before the Allahabad High Court, which ordered the MLA to be taken into custody while rebuking the AG, the Yogi Adityanath led government acted in the right direction by expelling the MLA concerned. With the CBI conducting an enquiry in the matter, things will come out soon.
Then comes Amethi, the constituency of our Yuvraj Rahul Gandhi, where over a family brawl pertaining to property, the brother-in-law/ uncle happened to immolate his elder brother’s wife and his daughter, just to show him how dangerous he is, and that his brother should refrain from offending him. Again the victims happened to be women who wouldn’t have offered much resistance to the perpetrator and neutralise his opponent instantly. What a poor show of human emotions!
The Mehbooba Mufti government in J&K took stern measures against the BJP MLAs who had supported the rape of the Bakerwal girl, and PM Modi declared that none of the offenders of the rape will go unpunished. There are several states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Bihar that have made rapes of minors punishable with death under the POSCO Act, while the rest are just living with status quo. Though the Supreme Court ordered the lawyers in J&K to refrain from any activities that may cause obstruction to the investigations being conducted by the police, the lawyers put the entire community of barristers to shame by siding with the accused. The Bar Council must initiate a probe and put to test all the lawyers involved in the outrageous act.
The change that we expect may be brought in place when we declare in strict terms that all those found guilty of rape shall be castrated( which is the norm in many Shariat Jurisdictions) or hanged till death, but the effects would be only deterring in nature. We must not forget that how our justice delivery system and police establishment functions.
Coming to the bigger picture the general psyche of the society has been the sole reason because of which many crimes against women have been perpetrated, and movies like Pink and Lipstick under my Burqa highlight the same. Even our leaders who are expected to be narrate the social discourse with a sense of responsibility and far-sightedness often tend to forget the above, and land up in stirring up the hornet’s nest by giving statements that are not conforming to the growth and development of the modern society. If we need to fight crimes against women, we will have to do a lot of groundwork, which will in time bear the fruits, while our leaders must also learn to do the right talk. The moral values, and culture will never be downgraded because women wear western dresses and behave like friends with men, and are not raped to show down upon some class of persons as the prestige of the people does not lies with the chastity of their daughters as seen through the lens of conservationists but with the safety and empowerment of the girls as seen through the bare eyes of a modernist.
Thus to annihilate the nihilist who draws his moral strength from the discourses of religion, caste, creed and community will have to be dealt with in a spirit that makes the nihilist think of their own daughters, sisters etc before they try to think of anything about any other woman.