Saturday, January 7, 2017

Oh Womaniya - Part III


The early hours of 1 January 2017 began with the ceaseless beeping of my phone. Within half an hour, I had received about 50 Whatsapp messages, all New Year wishes, from family, friends, former colleagues & even people I hadn’t spoken to in ages.  Some greetings were images, some videos & some GIFs. There was, however, one word, common to all of them – hope.

Yes, that was what 2017 represented – hope. Hope for a better year, better life, better future & better prospects. Sadly, at that very moment, hope for humanity was slowly eroding in the form of the mass molestation that was taking place in Bengaluru.

What happened over the next few days after the incident was terribly predictable. The number of social media articles on women’s safety in the country rose, more such attacks came into light ,a minister in power blamed women, their attire and ‘western culture’  for this incident & news debates accompanied with bright hashtags broadcasted their way into primetime. What will happen in a few days is also equally & unfortunately predictable. This news will die a slow, painful death, the minister will continue to remain in power & news channels will go on with other debates. This seems to be the drill. This is what happened during Nirbhaya. Why should Bengaluru be any different?

As a woman of this nation, I am tired of the superfluous drill. I am fed up of seeing the perpetrators go scot free or even die a death that was too easy for them. I am afraid, that one day, my exhaustion might turn into dispassion, and that rape & molestation might become ‘common’ in our country.

But what I am most, is angry. Angry that because the cowards under the hide of the molesters, consider women to be their personal property. Angry at their hypocrisy, which enables them to bow in front of the Divine Mother, but leer & grope Her own embodiment. Angry at ministers who blame attire instead of perverts in the society. Angry that even though it is 2017, women don’t get the respect they deserve.

But my anger is directionless. Who should take the blame for these constant attacks against women, be it rape, molestation or acid attacks? Should it be the police, who find themselves perennially helpless in these cases? Should it be the government, which thinks that remuneration & funds will boost security for women? Or should it be men folk in general, innocent or guilty, whether father, brother, friend or husband?

Unwritten, society-created archaic rules are majorly to be blamed for these attacks. Nowhere is it written that sons should be cherished & daughters should be killed. No religion in the world says that men have to be educated and respected, while women have to be illiterate & ill-treated. No book says that women can’t work or men can’t cook. No teaching says that it is okay for a man to torment a woman, either physically or mentally.  And no law in this country says that men are superior to women. These are all notions developed by humans who consider themselves capable enough to dictate rules, not God.  All holy books are the same for both man and woman. When God doesn’t discriminate, how can we?

While I understand that India is a fairly peaceful democracy, I fail to understand why some crimes cannot have barbaric punishments, at least to instil fear of the law in the society. Call me insensitive, but I do not understand why the human rights of a criminal must be considered when he has failed to consider the human rights of a woman.  This delay in meting out punishment for criminals is probably another reason for a rise in women-related crimes. When one knows that he might not even be caught, let alone be put on trial for a crime, why would one fear?

After ranting my heart out in this article, I might get back to my book. You, the reader, might hastily read this and get back to your evening. But what about the girls who went out in a joyous mood to ring in the New Year, and came home mentally disturbed & humiliated? Their start of the year has been no less than a nightmare. Their only chance of getting back to normal is the four-letter word the year began with – hope. A hope that their perpetrators will pay for their sins. A hope that women will someday, finally be free. A hope that their sons will be taught to respect & honour women to get respect & honour from them. A hope that words like rape & molestation will become history. And a hope that India will never have another ‘Night of Shame’





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