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India Shamed

India Shamed

As the nation is rocked by one ‘indecent affair’ after the other, the exhilaration at having established its credentials as an emerging global sporting super-power is snowed under the country’s inability to come to terms with the atrocities being heaped on its women that is earning the country a dubious distinction across the world.

Kathua, Unnao, Aruppukottai, Surat……

News reports of rape are grabbing headlines in the country today, with the dastardly act receiving the sort of media coverage that is exclusively reserved for events of national importance.

As things stand today, for every rape reported in the press, there are four others that go unnoticed in the country. Some do garner national indignation purely for the gruesomeness of the crime committed but gradually fade away to oblivion thereafter. Girls barely old enough to understand the world around them falling prey to the lecherous designs of perverted males is enough to disturb the conscience of a society that has always sought to protect the weaker sex.

The Kathua gang rape and murder case for instance! The groundswell of horror and indignation against the alleged bid to communalize and then politicize the gory incident grew across the country as outrage reminiscent of the 2012 Nirbhaya protests erupted on the social media.

No doubt the trial into the case will become the focal point of outrage across the country, but what becomes more obvious from such incidents of brutal horror is the complicity of individuals who are of some standing in the society. The involvement of juveniles in such crimes further suggests a trend where our society is slowly but surely sinking into the lower stages of civilization and mankind is more prone to exhibiting animal instincts in a rather persuasive manner.

Moreover, politics in our country has transcended to a stage where ‘protection of the brethren’ has weighed heavily on the minds of party bosses whenever the culpability of the members from their organization comes within the ambit of doubt. It becomes extremely difficult to understand why the government is refusing to shed its myopic vision and decides that an offender, irrespective of his political affiliations, will remain one until his fair name is cleared. Furthermore, the ‘political tamasha’ enacted in the aftermath of such crimes is at times disgusting, to say the least.

Besides, the very assurance from authorities that the rape and murder victim will not be denied justice is itself clouded in uncertainties considering the rigmarole of legal complexities that affords the accused loopholes to evade punishment.

But somehow the righteous anger that describes the public reaction whenever such gruesome incidents are brought to light by the media has never really translated into meaningful legislations which can prove to have deterrent effect on criminals.

As long as the ghastly act remains in the public domain, with long drawn out campaigns and public movements to bring the culprits to book, expectations from the law-makers will run high. But unfortunately to date there have been no laws enacted in the country that discourages crime against women.

The complex psychological jargon that goes to describe the rapist’s state of mind at the exact moment thoughts of violating the victim overwhelms him is best left to experts to ponder over.

The very fact that the rapist thinks nothing at all about forcing himself upon the helpless victim and goes on to violate her physically and mentally should be enough to encourage a legislation that favours the harshest of punishment for the dastardly act.

However, more often than not, it is the victim who is reduced to a traumatic state after the heinous crime with the perpetrator brushing off all allegations and set to walk free after a legal battle that sends across a strong message that getting raped is a crime in India.

Rape and other crimes against women demand sustained campaigns against the evil which can never come about with impromptu decisions on the matter.

If in spite of the uproar against the depraved act against womenfolk, a rape victim has to feel embarrassed to come out in the open to demand justice for herself, it speaks for the decadence in the modern society.

Sermons on women empowerment and gender equality somehow fail to convey the sort of conviction that these high-sounding phrases are supposed to. It is not the proposed 33% reservation of all seats in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women that is going to assure safety for the fairer sex on our streets. Nor would separate queues for ladies, exclusive compartments for women in trains, and a number of other relaxations guarantee them protection from dangers that lurk around every corner.

For that matter, nothing much has been done by those in power to dispel the notion that in India acts of violence against minors and women outnumber all other criminal offences. Yet, it is perturbing to note that the subject is not receiving the sort of attention that it should actually be.

Worse still is the reaction by family members against attempts by the rape victim to seek justice for herself. So horrible is the stigma attached to the word ‘rape’ that society, virtually condemning her to a life of disgrace, expects the hapless victim to recede into a cocoon of self-pity and helplessness.

Moreover, the opinion that women invite trouble for themselves by dressing in a provocative manner needs to be disregarded considering that the age of some of the girls who were molested was not something at which they could have made a fashion statement, or afforded to.

Much has been discussed about the need for a change in the mindset of people when it comes to the matter of rape and consideration for the victim in the aftermath of the painful and distressing experience. But are mere words enough! With every passing day, the reluctance of the Indian judiciary to award and uphold the death sentence to the “inhuman perpetrators of such heinous crimes” has come under fire from the civil society. In the meanwhile, from Nirbhaya in Delhi to the 8-year-old victim in Kathua, India continues to be shamed… again and again!

(Published on 23th April 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 17)