A few days ago I wrote this poem (to read click here) to articulate my thoughts on the Delhi gang rape and the Newtown tragedy. This morning the news came that the victim in the Delhi gang rape case has passed away. It saddened me deeply.
Thousands of young people are protesting in New delhi and around different states in India. The attitudes and moral degeneration of people and politics that are being questioned are all too pervasive. When asked many of the girls among the protestors said the reason for their demand for justice is that it could have be any of them in place of the victim. It’s sad but it is true. This could have been any one of us. The reason this incident has resonated with so many is because so many of us have been through similar situations. This tragic incident has brought to fore a lot of sad memories as a young girl in Delhi for me.
I grew up in a lower middle class family in New Delhi with two sisters and a brother. The attitude in many families (mine included) was to have atleast one son. You would either go on having kids till you succeed or abort the girl child after a foetal gender test untill the government intervened and banned the gender determination in the womb. That not withstanding female feoticide and killing the girl child is rampant in India till date.
I attended a private co-educational school and high school run by a strict headmaster whose skewed sense of morality would put your character and integrity under the scanner if you were found talking to or even befriending boys. I know of girls who have participated in character assassination of other girls.
In college, I used to take the public transport and eve teasing was a very common phenomenon. No one was spared- your age, your looks and even what you wore did not matter. The policemen who think girls provoke eve-teasers by what they wear could not be more wrong. The eve-teasers hide behind a crowd and sometimes it was safer to be silent because the rowdies were only looking for a chance to make a public spectacle. If you did not live in the posh neighbourhoods (which I did not), eve teasing in public transport was even more severe. Though I am not proud of the times I have had to slap a guy or throw my sandals at him for eve teasing , I am feeling ashamed at the times I chose to remain silent.
However, the saddest memory was triggered by the statement from the perpetrators that “they wanted to teach the girl a lesson”……. Teach someone a lesson- I have heard that from a bully ….. That attitude of knowing better and enforcing that by exerting power is the seed which when planted into the wrong minds leads to such crimes being inflicted not against the girls only but also towards the poor and the weak. How far can someone go to teach somebody a lesson? The bully thinks he is teaching the bullied one a lesson and making him pay for being weak, poor, different or deviant from norm. Who gives them that authority to teach that lesson? Is it not self-proclaimed authority? One person or one group thinks that they represent the correct thinking or people’s common sentiment and then go about creating havoc on our streets. Political parties who beat up young couples in the name of preserving our “sanskriti/ culture” do the same. A husband who beats up his wife to teach her a lesson for not bringing enough dowry or a brother who kills his sister for marrying outside his religion does the same thing. The attitudes behind such crimes have been explained very well in this article on kafila.org and I would recommend that you read through this lengthy but well written post.
Even if you are absolutely correct in your thinking there is a right and a wrong way of doing things. As people we have given the power to the government to make laws, enforce those laws and bring the offenders to justice. The “Angry Young Man” of Bollywood movies who fights the criminals and fights against the system looks good on the silver screen but in real life there are systems in place and consequences to bear and therefore we have to fight the system from with in with clarity and patience.
If my Facebook news feed is any indication the dissatisfaction is growing. Some have called to boycott the Republic Day Celebration. Another one reminded that its a nation where the female is not safe inside the womb or outside. My friend SH said may be it’s too late to turn around the Titanic. I hope not.
I hope as a people we have recognized the attitudes that are behind these crimes, identified the loopholes in our laws and the reforms in law enforcement that need to happen well in time for a safe course correction.