I would like to start the post with my deepest condolences to the family of the girl gang-raped in Delhi on the 16th of December, who breathed her last earlier today. Imagine how heart-wrenching it must have been for the parents to listen to their daughter’s account of how the six men brutally raped her for an hour and inserted an iron rod into her vagina. Imagine how hard it was for them to watch her suffer in pain on the hospital bed for 15 days till her body could take it no more. Twice amidst the medical procedures, she told her mum she wanted to live…
The whole nation weeps today at the loss of an innocent soul but it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that something like this has happened in India. In fact, we all know this is happening every single day in all the cities, towns and villages in India. This particular case found media exposure because of the location of the crime – Delhi.
Unless you can afford the luxury of having a chauffeur driving you around, I’m sure you have experienced the trauma of travel by public transport in India. Lewd comments, groping and molestation in crowded buses, trains and Metros (Underground) is not a new phenomenon. The women have been withstanding it for years now and had come up with a coping mechanism- silence – accepting that sexual harassment as an inevitable part of life.
The Delhi gang-rape case proved how wrong our strategy has been all these years. We should have nipped the evil, in the bud. We now realise how easy it is to fall prey to ruffians trying to satisfy their sexual perversions and not just by groping this time but by rape. We have come to realise that it’s about time we found our voices.
I have myself lived in Kolkata (former Calcutta) for 3 years and I have first-hand experience of the indecent comments and groping that a girl faces when out on the road.
What makes it worse is the victim blaming by the society:
“You were out late in the night, no good girls do that. You were wearing too “modern” clothes, that tempts men,so you provoked them to touch/rape you. You were holding hands with your boyfriend, you must be up for more (and not just from him).”
Image source: http://papodehomem.com.br/estupro/
It is very important to increase the severity of punishment for rapists, yes, maybe even death penalty. But it has to be made sure that the loopholes are also taken care of so that the law is not abused.
Educating people will go a long way to decrease the number of rapes. When I say education, I don’t mean degrees. I mean educating little girls that they are okay to shout out and say ‘no’ when someone does something indecent to them, even if it’s just a lewd comment by a passing by an auto driver. Little boys should be allowed to mingle with girls and taught to respect them as equals, right from the childhood. Also, may be self-defence classes should be made compulsory for girls at school.
I realise for the poverty stricken millions, teaching kids to respect women is not much of a concern. The slum dwelling families just focus on getting their basic needs satisfied – hunger, lust, etc. and don’t really have the mindset or the time to teach values to their kids and this is where strict laws would help. People in their right mind won’t commit a murder because they know they will be given capital punishment and so it should be for rape. If you don’t love and respect, at least fear and respect.
The 6 men involved in the Delhi gang-rape case are slum dwellers. Other such perverts in the slums probably don’t even know what’s going on and wouldn’t think twice before doing the same thing to some other girl -forget about having any idea of how much shame this incident has brought upon the nation. The Govt need to find a way to reach out to them. Billboards come to mind here. How about having the photos of the 6 rapists on billboards all over India with a description in the vernacular of why they have been arrested and what is in store for them?
The government have taken a good step by trying to involve the public in the decision-making process for the reforms in the law regarding rape. We can now suggest the preventive measures or punishment for rape via email : firstname.lastname@example.org or through fax : 011-23092675. This is our chance to make a change. All the things we have been suggesting in our Facebook posts and tweets can now actually help shape the new law.
The people and the media should keep this flame alive – not only till this girl gets justice but also, till the necessary reforms have been made both in the society and the law.
And once we feel a little safe on the roads and don’t live in the fear of being raped by a stranger on a dark street, we can start discussing marital rape: If she said no but you forced her to have sex with you, it IS rape, even though she’s your wife.