Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rapes in India--A Social Evil or a Cultural Endemic?

Rape is not just an epidemic but a culture in a country like India. When a mishap like a rape happens, this school of thought bares it claws. From the laymen to defence lawyers to the police, no one spares a thought for a woman, with whom a very personal crime has happened. No one tries to help her or bring the culprits to book, except casting aspersions on her.

The rape of a 23 years old woman on December 16 th shook the country with a thunderbolt attracting even the international media’s attention. The books of law called it the "rarest of rare" cases because the act was inhuman and beastly that ultimately led to the death of the victim. While the juvenile victim who was four months short of becoming a major, was spared the gallows, the other three men got capital punishment. One of the culprits had already committed suicide soon after the incident, which again was deemed as a murder to cover up the case which had shaken the prospects of the ruling party. Since this rape was an exception which led to the death of the victim, the punishment given was the highest but that strengthened the notion that to bring a rapist to the gallows one has to be raped in the most brutal of circumstances. If not you might never ever get justice, leave alone justice perhaps your case might never even get heard. 

The defence lawyer in his argument lashed out at the Indian parents for bringing up their girl children with modern values. He openly propagated "honour killing" by issuing a statement that said that had his daughter went and had premarital sex he would have killed her to uphold the honour of the family. In country where a defence lawyer can cover up his clients by fueling fire with such a vendetta, rape is indeed a culture and not just a law and order issue.  The verdict was hailed by everyone as an exemplary punishment that would instill fear in the minds of potential rapists out on the prowl. But what about the hundreds of women like the Suryanelli survivor or the Manoramas or the victims of Gujarat 2002 riots? Will this verdict in any way bring justice to their doorstep?
 What continues to stay unmoved is the propagation of rape culture where lawyers like A.K Singh who happen to be educated people consider daughters as symbols of honour that need to be protected and never allowed to live as a free citizen, if she dares to, for daughters of men like him death is imminent. Where Bollywood or the hindi film industry recently came out with movies like "Grand Masti" that promoted sleaze and venerated women and their bodies in a society already battling with an "item number" culture. Where semi-clad women are shown exposing their midriffs and trying to entice a male audience that ogles and whistles, bollywood says this lends support to the marketability of the movie. The classic meaning of "item number" refers to highly sexualized songs with racy imagery and suggestive lyrics where women are sexually objectified and the movie grosses money. This bares the fact that "sexual objectification" forms a part of this rape culture, which has in no way being checked by the authorities responsible to keep a check on it, in this case the censor board of The Hindi Film industry.

Within days of the Nirbhaya judgment, self styled godman Asaram Bapu was accused of raping a sixteen year old girl forcing her to perform unnatural acts which was confirmed by medical examination and a case registered. The godman was booked by the Delhi police under Indian Penal Code sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation), and sections of the Juvenile Justice Act, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The defence lawyer, again in a war of words humiliated the victim by alleging that the victim who had filed the complaint against Asaram was suffering from a chronic disease that draws a man to a woman. He further accused the victim and her family of fabricating the case and lying about her age.
The nation helplessly united in a protest of solidarity on twitter and other social networking sites stood by the rape victim. Rather than trying to get her justice, a famous defence lawyer stooped down to the lowest possible ranks, by cooking stories to ensure that the accused, walks a free bird all thanks to the clout he enjoys in the society.

While a certain section of the society enjoys esteem for having being born with a “Y” chromosome, another section which lives and breathes amidst hyper-sexualization and objectification dares to ask a simple question? Are we worth only our bodies? Those that  need to get displayed to sell movies and cater to the superior sex and those that a self styled man of God or any rapist on the prowl, can use to quell his thirst. 
Those that do deserve to breathe free and live without the fear of being groped, molested, abused or raped.
Those that has dreams just like you, those that wasn’t born to be used and abused and those that as per constitution deserves equal rights, until you do not recognize them.

In societies like India rape is not just a social evil, it's more of a culture that is deeply cultivated into the minds of a civilization divided into ranks, the superior sex and the second sex. Girls as young as four or five getting raped in a culture that never forgets to worship its goddesses for nine days, without fail only exposes the shambles that the society lies in. Picking up its pieces and crying for equal rights is the right and duty of the weaker sex, until safer streets, more women police personnel, faster FIR's filed don't become a reality. Until journalists would live upto their name and won't report for TRP's and rape jokes and item songs would be a thing of the past, this culture is here to stay. I will not hail the Nirbhaya verdict until then!

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