Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.” – Jessica Valenti- The Purity Myth –
‘Woman’ in true sense is a race, bestowed with the profound responsibility of building and nourishing the generations. In each role nature has blessed her with, despite her being physically weak; she shines with strong ability to serve as a nucleus whereupon ‘Life’ revolves.
A woman is able to generate a life by nurturing it with her own self, bearing all the pains, enduring through trials in order to protect the core value of ‘Love’ that sustains and helps relationship survive and strengthen. A gender that does not demand, but deserves the highest gratitude and respect, is unfortunately being served the opposite in various parts of the modern world today.
In India, matters cannot be worse. ‘Rape Capital of the World’ as it has turned out to be, displaying endemic barbarity that may not be contained by any law or legislation. The problem India faces is beyond just ‘Rape’; herein according to the Indian National Crime Records Bureau, one woman is raped every 20 minutes in India and more so where police estimates are that only 4 out of 10 rapes are reported, largely due to victims’ fear of being shamed by their families and communities – the cancer lies in the interpretation of the word and concept of ‘woman’ itself.
The debate is beyond how women should have dressed, where they should have been and at what time. As Naomi Wolf noted in her book The Beauty Myth, “Beauty provokes harassment, the law says, but it looks through the men’s eyes when deciding what provokes it.” – A deep view is needed to understand the articulation of acts that have unfolded in India, and that are completely shocking the world.
It was on 16th of December, last year, when a medical student was picked up along with her friend by a few men in a bus in Delhi (capital of India), who was later not only raped and beaten, in fact sank into deep trauma-conditions for multiple injuries to vital organs and psychological break-down, which did not allow her to survive more than two weeks after being found dumped on the street. This specific tragedy left the world in utter shock and disbelief, barbarism of such unprecedented scale was unheard of, and as more ironic facts were unveiled to the world, it was found that what the world is looking at is just the tip of the ice berg. As people came out on streets, they demanded the harshest punishments for the culprits, and the media started focusing on most of the cases in urban India which previously went unnoticed; things did not change at all as reports kept coming of continuous rapes and registered cases of harassments. Same month, a South-Korean girl was raped by resort manager in Bhopal.
On 16th March 2013 a Swiss couple touring India found itself in the midst of a bunch of hyenas during cycle-tour when they decided to camp for a night in hinterland of Madhya Pradesh; the husband was beaten, tied up and left to watch the hospitality of eight Indian men, which ended up in his wife being in the hospital; only to blamed by the police spokesman that the couple should share the blame, ‘for being at a wrong place at a wrong time’. Inspector Avnesh Kumar Budholiya said the tourists had been careless in travelling to a remote part of the country they knew little about. “No one stops there,” he said. “Why did they choose that place? They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They would have passed a police station on the way to the area they camped. They should have stopped and asked about places to sleep.”
Neerja Ahlawat, sociologist and deputy director of the women’s studies centre at Maharshi Dayanand University in Haryana said: “This is typical of all the cases that take place in India. The police don’t want to take responsibility. Indian women are not safe, in small towns, villages or the big cities, partly because the police are not assuming responsibility for keeping women safe. They blame the dark, the clothes a woman wears, everything but their shirking of their duties.”
Lok Sabha on Tuesday 19th March, passed a Bill The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill-2013 which provides for natural-life-term or even death for repeat offenders of rape and other stringent punishment for various offences like stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks; “Time has come to send out a loud, clear and deterrent signal that the society will not tolerate such errant behaviour,” home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, replying to a nearly six-hour debate on the Bill – unaware of the fact, that same morning a British tourist who in her hotel room was being offered ‘massage’ by the courteous Hotel owner himself at 4 AM, this woman had to risk her life by jumping out of the window, fracturing her leg but luckily protecting her honor; the jump was surely worth it. But, more than her leg, it’s the social structure of India that is at a risk of moral collapse, if it hasn’t already.
How deeply infected the Indian masculine minds are, can be gauged by a politician’s statement who was among part of this legislation debate, “Who among us have not followed girls?” asked politician Sharad Yadav of the regional Janata Dal Party during Tuesday’s debate, in reference to the new provisions on stalking. “The girl may not give us a lift the first time, you have to pursue her and then tell politely. This is the way.” – Evoking laughter of his fellow male MPs – it also reminds us the gruesome incident in 2008, when British teenager Scarlett Keeling was raped and killed and her body left on a Goan beach, one local MP claimed that a rape committed after midnight, should be treated differently to other crimes.
The tragic tales of ‘Indian Rape’ crosses into areas occupied by the Indian forces, especially Kashmir where thousands of women have been raped and murdered. Kunan Poshpora incident occurred on February 23, 1991 when 53 women were gang-raped over the night by hundreds of soldiers. Shopian Rape case in May 2009 where two young women were raped and thrown in to river, are only few examples of the gates of hell opened on the women of Kashmir. Not to forget brutal mass public rapes in the Gujrat riots in 2002, against Muslim community where reportedly pregnant women were raped, their wombs slit and foetus paraded on daggers in the presence of state police.
India earns more than 120 Billion Dollars each year through tourism, but the situation is nose-diving and gone out of control as many Western countries have already issued travel advisories to their women travelers clearly telling them they are not safe in India; that they are at risk of being raped.. The aspiring super-power, Asian-Tiger, World-Largest, Shining democracy has been singled out in South-Asia for this alarm, shameful for the whole region indeed. It is ironic to note that never in the history such severe advisories have been issued, UK advised in following words,
“Women should use caution if travelling alone in India. Reported cases of sexual assault against women and young girls are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk. British women have been the victims of sexual assault in Goa, Delhi, Bangalore and Rajasthan and women travelers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men.”
Then in more candid terms comes the US advisory to its citizen in ‘Rape-Zone’, “While India is generally safe for foreign visitors, according to the latest figures by Indian authorities, rape is the fastest growing crime in India. Among large cities, Delhi experienced the highest number of crimes against women. Although most victims have been local residents, recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas underline the fact that foreign women are at risk and should exercise vigilance.”
The advisory goes on to add that women can be “Eve-teased”, subjected to sexual harassment that can be frightening, and there could be “sexually suggestive lewd comments to catcalls to outright groping.”
“Women should observe stringent security precautions, including avoiding use of public transport after dark without the company of known and trustworthy companions, restricting evening entertainment to well-known venues, and avoiding isolated areas when alone at any time of day.”
Complexities of these instincts have serious connotations, it is difficult to explain a man about a sister, who himself is not a brother of one. It’s nearly impossible to explain the kindness that fills the heart of a father when his daughter embraces him, to one who isn’t a father. It’s very challenging for a man to know what respect and care means for a wife, who is unable to find a women to come under his wed-lock, but society has to be sustained upon culturing the instincts from bare animal ones to civility. This is the unmistakable irony of Indian society today, which treats women as the worst liability on the face of this earth, as India has failed to harbor civil decorum in its mases. A society that believes having two girl children is a wrath earned due to some wrong doing in the past life.
Well documented facts uncover the layers of this curse lying under the Indian sand. Jill Mc Givering in his report on BBC ‘India’s lost girls 2003′ says, “A marriage crisis is hitting thousands of men in parts of rural India which are running out of potential brides. The traditional preference for boys instead of girls has led to widespread abuse of modern pre-natal scans.”
Alka Gupta at UNICEF explains more, ten years later in her detailed report ‘Female foeticide in India’, Alka Gupta – “An estimated 25-50 million women in India are “missing”, if you compare the proportion of women in the population with other countries. As well as infanticide and foeticide, some girls die of neglect – many adult women also die early. Use of ultrasound for sex determination is illegal in India, but remains widespread. The states of Punjab and Haryana have the highest proportion of missing girls at birth. Rich and modern cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, and Ahmadabad show some of the worst child sex ratios. The girls have not vanished overnight. Decades of sex determination tests and female foeticide that has acquired genocide proportions are finally catching up with states in India.”
Let’s bring some more significant element into perspective here – ‘Bollywood’ (India’s Prime Film Industry) has evolved as one of world top-rankers in hit-charts, in time; what is relevant to the context is a certain term called ‘Item Numbers’ – A song that would break records of lewdness and vulgarity both in depiction and lyrics, a song that would find strong placement in an Indian man’s sub-conscious mind helping the Corporate targets and popularity.
One wonders, how Ms.Chikni Chameli (an Item Song character) was able to sneak out alone, drunk and lighting up cigarettes by the fire of her beauty and not getting raped. One also thinks how is Sheila still protected and hadn’t had any hands on her in such grim conditions? It is ironic to imagine if there is no hand of Bollywood “mind-control’ that brought blot on Indian Munnis and Imported Kamariyas (a sultry item number song that refers to foreign women) – A major influence and vials of frustration have been infused in Indian men, who are ‘blessed’ to have prestigious home originated Porn-Star Sunny Leone as a main-stream movie actress while many other of its shinning celebrities are competing around the world to shed more clothes. Hyper-Glamour and an opposite dark-skinned reality on Indian demographics doesn’t go down too well with men, who are gradually morphed in to hunters, perverts, addicts and rapists finally, if things don’t end up in a murder. Naomi Wolf explains in her book how images of women are being used against them.
“For the first time in history, children are growing up whose earliest sexual imprinting derives not from a living human being, or fantasies of their own; since the 1960s pornographic upsurge, the sexuality of children has begun to be shaped in response to cues that are no longer human. Nothing comparable has ever happened in the history of our species; it dislodges Freud. Today’s children and young men and women have sexual identities that spiral around paper and celluloid phantoms: from Playboy to music videos to the blank females torsos in women’s magazines, features obscured and eyes extinguished, they are being imprinted with a sexuality that is mass-produced, deliberately dehumanizing and inhuman.”
Emerging picture cannot be reverted by mere air brushing of laws and protests. This epidemic crisis, genocidal catastrophe against the human race invites serious all rounded study of all elements that has torn apart the Indian social fabric, turning sex-crimes into a plague; if not neutralized they may have the potential to contaminate the whole world. Social-Engineers, Philosophers, Psychiatrists and if need be ‘Muhammad bin Qasims’ should get together and plan a rescue of women from this dark civilization brimming in South Asia.
Famous Poet of the 19th century, Iqbal, addressed the situation precisely as what’s happening in the name of civilization, “Your Civilization will Commit suicide with its own dagger; a nest constructed on weak branch will be rendered unstable” – an ultimate solution however lies with the women of India as they search their identity; they have a huge responsibility to breed a better generation that understands the refined meaning of the term ‘woman’ first and foremost.