Friday, August 30, 2013

Is India A Safe Place For Women?

I keep seeing these polls on websites and tv channels? Is India safe? What do you think?

I don't know how the poll is supposed to change anything but I suppose the answer is quite obvious in view of the latest happenings. It's not.

I recently saw a CNN report based on an American student's report of her three month stay in India and the report was quite shattering and hard hitting. It points at all the things we take for granted with our so called 'freedom' - leching at women openly, making passes at them passing lewd comments, taking pictures and videos on mobiles without their permission and a great deal of physical abuse that is condoned openly in some parts of our societies. I have seen it all happen and life went on normally - it's all normal.

Now it has gone to the next level of abuse against women. There are increasing cases of gang rape, of harassment of a high order both sexually, mentally and physically (and this includes people at the highest levels). What is worse is the increasing number of rapes against infants, children as young as two years, school children molested or impregnated by those who are supposed to teach them or guard and protect them. Anything is fair game now and somehow there are parts of the society which feel they can get away with anything. The police, the political connections, they are all there or can be bought.

The Delhi rape case shook everyone but not enough. Now the Mumbai rape case comes to fore. What is it that we can do? We can all collectively hang our heads in shame. To start with, the ones in the highest office, for not being able to provide protection to its citizens, to its infants, by not enforcing stricter governance. You can pass all the bills you want but if you cannot get the government machinery working you have no business sitting there. We can all kick ourselves as well for having brought things to this, for failing to see signs of moral decay and for putting up with the small abuse in our households, in our neighbourhoods. If society had acted in time and enforced its moral code on how our women should be treated, no juvenile, no man would have harboured such thoughts. But we, the hypocrites that we are, get upset at pictures of goddesses drawn by artists, do dharnas at how women are being shown in bad light on film posters or in books that no one reads, but allow all sorts of abuse to go on in and around us. We love the way women are gently abused in our films by the leading men, the way they are gradually degraded. Oh, you should see some of our blockbuster Telugu movies to see how much we respect our women.

It's time that we realised that women in India cannot rely on men to protect them or respect them. Which is why India is not a safe place anymore. Because the men have ceased being men in the true sense of the word. Get a few men together and one can be assured about the kind of talk goes on - it is not about respecting women for sure. The mobiles are whipped out, the sniggers some on. In an age where we have seen MLAs watching porn in the assembly, we need not be shocked at what kind of stuff must be going on in the minds of kids - be it from a slum or the high rise. Despite all that we claim about how much we respect women, the truth is that we do not. We do not respect anything, anyone really

It is not funny anymore. It makes sense I suppose for women to take care of themselves. Pepper sprays, body guards, martial arts, licensed guns - whatever. If some man does step up to help - be thankful. There may be exceptions to the rule yet. That's as far as society goes. It's beyond redemption..

The other part is our leaders, who unfortunately reflect us. Governance has certainly fallen to its lowest. Almost everywhere we see open an collusion between criminals and politicians and police. Hardly do we hear a responsible leader speaking up on such occasions. We need thought leadership on these issues. We need something done quickly that screams out loud and says - man, this is horrible, whatever you are thinking and doing. We cannot condone this and you will suffer for doing this to a woman, a girl.

But instead we hear everyone say on tv - but they should wear these kind of clothes, they should address the rapists as brothers and find a way to dampen their lust, they should not go out at night, they should not drink, they should not have boy friends...

Where is the hope in this kind of madness? This kind of hypocricy? None. And all the anger about castration, hanging, quick penalties. Yes, ten rapists will die, twenty, thirty or a hundred that way. How do you kill the mindset. How do you stop the minister from sodomising his servant, the old man leching at his daughter or grand daughter, the next door uncle raping the two year old, the teacher impregnating his student? How do you tell them that you have other ways to satisfy your lust? How do you get them to respect another human, another life? I have no clue really. Somewhere we have gone horribly wrong.

I will not be surprised if more and more women choose to wear something like the burkha in future to save themselves from the men. It may be their best protection yet. 

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