Thursday, 20 March 2014

Rape - an insight

In ancient India, women occupied a very important position, in fact a superior position to men. It is a culture whose only words for strength and power re feminine - “shakti”. [1] Literary evidence suggests that kings and towns were destroyed because a single woman was wronged by the state. We can see that in Valmiki’s Ramayana, it teaches us that Ravana and his entire clan was wiped out as Sita was abducted. The problem in India is not that there is persistent patriarchy in the society but that patriarchy is presumed to be female subjugation. It will be wrong to say that women are considered to be weak in India, it is correct to say that the Lack of Education and Empowerment of Women has led for the other sex to believe that women are weak. Let alone the male presuming so, daughters are taught by their mothers to accept the different treatment as it is correct and well deserved.

The infamous white coloured bus that went around the streets of an emerging nations capital with a girl being raped brutally. The case was one of the many rape cases reported in India but it mustered a mass support. The slum dwellers raped an innocent medical student while her accompanist was pushed out of the bus The awfulness  of the incident, including assault with rod, guaranteed the case publicity. It is hard to imagine the same publicity if the girl had been from a poor migrant family. You might be concluding that it ends here. No. The rapists had added raping a girl to the chores of their daily to – do list and they regarded this as “fun”. The chief minister remarked, “Being  a mother of a daughter, I suggest women should not step out late in the evening.” The irony is in its statement itself.  The people reacted on the incident which in turn granted the criminals a capital punishment. The question is , will hanging the rapists serve any good? Is capital punishment the solution to the deteriorating condition of women safety in india? Recent studies show that each execution deters five murderers on average.[2] A criminal who thinks of sexually abusing a screaming girl as fun cannot be corrected by capital punishment nor can the others be prevented from getting this thought in their head. Some psychologists suggest that a criminal is made by birth, this is usually the explanation sought to justify the acts of serial killers. The fear of death has from times immemorial made a man act differently but it is not the solution for the heinous act that has already destroyed a life and the others connected to this life. The old saying that, “Prevention is better than Cure” shall still stand true.

Though the statistics do not suggest high rates of rape in India, the figures are highly questionable. Anecdotally, almost every woman seems to have a story of being accosted, groped or worse. But the Centre for Social Research in Delhi, sees progress in at least in how the word rape(balatkar) is now being discussed openly , which was nearly a taboo. Surprisingly, in January 2013, the Ministry of Justice, Office of National Statistics and Home Office released its first official joint statistics on sexual offences in England and Wales. It reported that approximately, 85,000 women are raped on average a year and 1 in 5 women have experienced some form of sexual violence. The need of the hour is for an updated action plan to tackle all 
aspects of the problem. The implementation of the plan is as important as the formulation.

I would like to conclude by stating that there’s something uncomfortably neocolonial about the way the Delhi gang rape case and subsequent death of the victim is being handled in the UK and US media. While India’s Civil and political Spheres are alight with protests and demands for changes to the country’s culture of sexual violence, commentators here are using the event to simultaneously demonize Indian society and minimize the enormity of western rape culture.

Kritika Angirish

[1] A Tribute to hinduism
[2] A study based on state level data from 1977 to 1997.

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