Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Of Being a Woman in Delhi

Today when I opened the newspapers warmed by my morning cup of tea, I was shocked to read the headlines that were gawking into my hapless eyes. Another rape in the city had happened and this time the baneful brutality is a chapter unheard in the history of mankind . Six men had stripped, raped and barbarized a young girl with an iron rod with such inhuman brutality that has managed to shock and dismay one and all who got to know if it. Her only mistake, she did not yield to the 8 pm law that a Gurgaon commissioner had once issued when a woman's modesty was outraged in that part of the NCR. And yes this time around, she was not alone on the streets of Delhi, she was with a man who could do nothing to save her and was not spared himself. 
I wish this is the last of the incidents we will ever get to hear, but no there is much more in the offing until we raise our voices and try to make the spaces safer for own selves. Rapes are a history that keep repeating itself over and over again in a state which has a woman CM, who is busy calculating the amount of money needed by an average Indian family to survive, six hundred as per her ignorant apathy.

This is Delhi, the capital of the country India, where women work out late, party into the wee hours wearing what they want, drive after dark, and live a life that doesn't hide behind a veil and isn't directed by diktats. But the moment something like this happens I am tried to think  the other way. Do we really live in a city and that too a city that is the capital of the country?

Every such misfitting mishap reminds me that we are still nothing better than a medieval India we often mock at. The India that lives in villages, is hidden behind ghoonghats and where men of the khap panchayats rule the roost.   After every incident, the law makers indulge in a Pontious Pilate act and blame us for the fiasco, for wearing jeans or leggings and going out in odd hours with male friends or humans of our species, offering ourselves to be raped. Thus washing their hands of the blame to snore in shameless slumber.

For this they think is not Indian culture. Indian culture is not chowmein, it is child marriage. A rape is consensual 90 percent of the times it happens and one must blame the free mingling of both the sexes for the same. These are the silly statements issued by our politicians, oh I beg to differ here but for no reason I would call them leaders. Rather than bearing the onus of such lecherous lawlessness like leaders do, these retrograde politicians are busy giving us wisdom on the Indian culture. 

The story is much the same everywhere in India but in this city called Delhi, it always goes one step ahead. The other day while at the AIIMS metro station and climbing up the elevator, I happened to see a man standing in a awkward position. I sensed a dead rat and thought that he might be a pick pocket trying to steal from the other men standing next to him. Much to the utter disgust of any woman, as I ascended up the elevator, I saw him masturbating. He was a middle aged man with an average built. I did not notice what he was wearing but remember him holding a poly bag. Maybe he was a patient's relative admitted in one of the hospitals around, who very well knew that he could get away with his indecent intentions, for such is the notoriety in this city. I did not do much to report the incident, maybe I was sure that the authorities would be too lazy to move their asses and do something about it. Another woman saw the same man, standing at the same place and doing the same thing at almost the same time and wrote down her tale here, which proved to me that I wasn't wrong in my calculations about the authorities . All I could think of was rushing back home for never in my life had I ever seen such a horrifying act of horniness in a public place.

Such is the fear of living in this city that we usually cover up, and never let our hair down at nights. We are  always on our toes, guarding our modesty with a watch dog's vigilance while behaving like coy cats when some guy drunk on the libido brushes past us or grapples us. If we confront the culprit in such cases, we might be molested or harassed by a group of goons so we bear a cowardly silence and write it off with a grin. We die in ten parts ten thousand times, when moving vehicles halt near us for you never know what might happen a second later. Our parents and family are inconsolable if we are out late and until we do not reach homes there is no stopping their constant calling.  Such is the sorry state of affairs in the city, that last year the town was painted red with the blood of 572 women who were raped, many of whom are still awaiting justice. As many as 10 rapes have happened in moving vehicles in the last decade with 580 cases of sexual assault reported.  The numbers that bare the story!

The limping arms of the law are too listless to throttle the worshipers of lust who always manage to get away without a scratch. The laws of this land are more of principles without purpose, with most of them being bailable or offering very little punishment to the culprits as against the tenacity of the crime . 

Rape laws like these which offer no more than ten years years of imprisonment are not a deterrent to avoid sexual crimes .  
While the intent to outrage a woman's modesty fetches you one year of imprisonment, attempt to rape is not a crime in the Indian Penal code as of today,  under the existing law, a man can either rape a woman or criminally assault her to outrage her modesty; he cannot be held guilty of attempting to rape. 
The other medevial laws that do not protect a woman and might be as good as cooling your heels for stealing a bulb need to be revised as soon as it can be.

What we need with immediate action is, an amendment to all the laws made for women, with no provisions of bail seeming a reality in cases of rapes and molestation, as in case of Guwahati case. In other countries this is how rapists are punished from castration to life imprisonment being the maximum sentence.
Along with the revision of rules, we need courteous cops who won't find pleasure in harassing the victims and fast track courts to ensure speedy and fair trials as per the temperance of the rape. 
People making fun of the rape victim and blaming them should be fined, which will curb the rape culture we now have. 
The concept of community policing with civil society and student's community pitching in would be the first step in bringing a change. 
The maximum sentence for rapists should be CAPITAL PUNISHMENT or rigorous life imprisonment . Something as big as Capital punishment is needed to arrest social savagery, that is spreading at lightening fast speed. 
So also  a better health care system aimed at mending the mental health of such offenders is the need of the hour! 

The fight is on until then. Until the time women like me, do not loose our steam and pack our bags for safer shores.


sutanuka said...

Agree completely

Anonymous said...

Attempt to rape, rape, molestation, sexual harassment, stalking, child abuse - each should be dealt with and each has to be punishable. Brutality and torture should be punished with castration.

Anonymous said...

Attempt to rape, rape, molestation, sexual harassment, stalking, child abuse - each should be dealt with and each has to be punishable. Brutality and torture should be punished with castration.

Rachna said...

Delhi has for long been one of the worst places for women. Living in the South and earlier in Mumbai, I didn't face the kind of attitude that is extremely prevalent in Delhi.

Avijeet Das said...

Sadly wield a powerful pen.

Keep writing!

Avijeet Das said...

Sadly true.......

You wield a powerful pen.