Monday, December 24, 2012

No time to play politics on rapes but introspect

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

After the brutal rape incident in Delhi the political leaders particularly that of the BJP are up in arms against the government and law and order agencies for their failure to protect the victim. Numerous debates are there on TV and newspapers and it look as if India will change today only. Media has again become ‘preaching’ and people are in the street against it. Politicians from all parties have condemned it and protest continues at different parts of the country including Delhi. Many people say, Delhi has become rape capital of India as it is the most unsafe place in India. BJP and many like them want capital punishment while those who oppose death penalty seek chemical castration. Strange but some of them are seeking implementation of Sharia laws like Saudi Arabia. Our imaginations know no bound and hence all kind of fictitious arguments are coming because we have TV cameras. The protests are great and must be introspective in nature and not really in seeking response from the politicians or a particularly political party. It is important if we debate the entire issue in the perspective and not just an isolated incident which was absolutely brutal and horrible to even think off. There is no doubt that our law enforcing agencies must be made accountable and more humane but if the society is sick, it would be absolutely wrong to seek answer for a societal problem hence safety measures are good and must be placed to make ‘Delhi’ as a great capital of the world but how will Delhi or India grow as a ‘civilisation’ which we boast so much.

The violence against women is part of our civilization. Daily our daughters, sisters, wives and mothers face violence at home, work place, in schools and colleges, in forests, at the streets. The awkward male gaze is not really part of civilization but definitely a product of stupid and idiotic Hindi films where the hero or villain look straight into the eyes of the heroine and often he ‘succeed’ in convincing her. That is the learning message of Bollywood that you peep into the eyes of woman and get there. Whether our film stars agree or not, it is their films which are providing tricks to do things. The obsession with films and the lives of film stars results in being like them. The problem with our media is that they want to enjoy that too and speak against the violence in terms of physical violence and visible violence. Everything is fine if these cases are not reported and to hide the dirty face of our social structure, the entire blame is on the administrative apparatus.

My issue is the same. Indian media and its intellectual class have become bankrupt when they convert the debate into an administrative one without introspecting as what ails our civilization. Do we think there are no rapes in Saudi Arabia after Sharia laws are implemented? Do we want to live in a place where going together and even consented adults are charge sheeted and consensual sex is also treated as rape. The problem is that as a society, we are fast becoming more media centric and our protests disappear once media is not there. Instead of looking into the fault lines, we continue to promote the idea of ‘law and order’ and it is being promoted by BJP and other parties for their own sake. It serves two purposes. One is to blame everything on the administration so that a political capital may be build up over that and secondly never question our own social system which produces such situation. Will ever Sushma Swaraj and her colleagues ever concede to the fact that our civilization has basic flaws and we need to mature and become more gender sensitive? Where will you police when cases of incest are sharply increasing in our homes? You blame Delhi but that is because an incident here becomes ‘national’ but what about numerous other places where women go and cases are never registered. Which place in India is safe for women to do things at their own without a male escort?

We need to ask questions to ourselves how we treat our women, our daughters and we will find the answer of the corrupted civilization. When so many people come to the street and speak, the only thing that is that the government will take action. We all are crying against the culprits because they do not belong to us but the fact is all the culprits belong to us as a society. All these people must have sisters, mothers, wives and others and still they do it. Most of our men are protective of their female wards when they travel together and at home. They would be strict with them but when they go out they behave exactly the opposite. So, as a society, we treat issues on personal basis and not really as a violation of rights of a collective. Hence, whenever these cases happen, our people will cry but most of the places their families support them. Some will concede that there was a mistake but not beyond that.

Let us admit the fact that there is a problem in our grooming our children. We start discriminating with a girl child from day one. We divide her work. WE send her brother to market and she is given the charge of family. She has to be simple, ‘gori’ and ‘presentable’ when somebody come to ‘see’ her. Her father performs ‘Kanyadaan’. Is ‘seeing’ and ‘daan’ not convert her into an object? But then those who are the champion of ‘Indian culture’ will not speak? Yes, I never believe in comparing two wrong things but the moral high ground of Hindutva is not acceptable at all. Today, Narendra Modi is returning to power in Gujarat but can we forget the scars of 2002 when the Hindutva lunatics even tore open the fetus of a pregnant woman who happened to be Muslim and killed her with that. Do we know what our forces have done in Kashmir and north East with the women there. I am not generalizing but the fact is rape is a tool in the hands of patriarchical society to kill the spirit of a human being. It will always be a tool as long as women’s life is linked to the ‘purity’ of her ‘body’. Purity exist in mind and just as someone violate does not make her impure and therefore it is important we develop that spirit but those who conceptualized the concept of ‘purity’ will never ever dare to change their social laws.

A woman is not complete without man and Sushma knows it well as she wear all those symbols which the Sangh Parivar and other brahmanical minds feel are symbol of ‘woman’s’ love for her ‘husband’ but people like me feel that they are an abject surrender of women’s individuality to men. The status of men and women can be found in our marriages and death ceremonies where women are absolutely told what is their status? The death of husband is followed by rituals and if you see those rituals, you would like to blast them if you have a heart but you accept them as part of culture. How the sindoor and the bindi are removed, how bangles are broken and how she is put in white saree is happening even today. Please do not think that they happen elsewhere but very much in our families. These brutal social norms need to be challenged all together. When a brother rapes or a father has incestuous relationship with daughter, we can see the level of society that we are in and it need a complete over haul. It does need a social revolution.

The best thing about Delhi is despite all criticism that the women and girls have not succumbed to these violence. Instead they have spoken against it. It has not changed the way they want to live life. In fact it is embolden them to raise their voice. The girl who is violated need our unconditional support and we need to salute her spirit. We hope she will survive and will become a role model for rest of the world and it is only possible when we all introspect and not treat this issue to score a few political points. Our social system has been brutal and oppressive and these things have been there for years but now they are getting exposed and it is time we change ourselves otherwise as a civilization we are perished. No amount of policing will help us recover that loss which our social values have imposed on us and hence if India want to look a civilized nation, it must change from today and it is not possible without its girls and women feel safe, secured and honored at home as well as work place. It is time our public transport system is strengthened and each citizen of the country is gender sensitized only then we would ensure that there is no repetition of such horrendous crime.

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