I usually know what I want to write about. I have a basic idea of what the central theme is and more or less the title as well. Today I don’t have anything. There are millions of things in my mind and it is absolutely blank at the same time. Another rape happened. No. Another rape that got the attention of mainstream media and woke up the sleeping outrage among Indians, mostly the online kind happened. I know I had said that I will not write about rape but I have to let it out somehow. The discussions, debates and monologues about the issue are all around. People have moved from blaming police to westernization to chowmein to victims to even Pakistan. Demands of public castration and instant hanging of culprits can be heard everywhere. Everyone is appalled by the ‘heinousness’ of the crime and everyone is questioning the depths to which the mankind can fall. Everyone has their remedies as well which range from highly obnoxious kind like marrying the girl the moment she turns 10 or not allowing girls to wear jeans to increasing the amount of police force and setting up fast track court for rape cases. Everyone has a cause, explanation and a remedy and yet I am clueless. Who should be blamed? Or should someone else be blamed at all. How can the police force be more vigilant? It’s not like such incidences happen under the nose of the police personnel. At least not always. What can an increased police force do? They still cannot be one policeman for every civilian. What would be the point of setting up fast track court? It would clearly mean that we have accepted them just like traffic violations as a part of our society.
I sat down last night trying to think of what is it that I can do make a change and help make the country safer for women. I could not come up with anything that I, or people like me, are not already doing. I have never harassed a girl in any way possible. Not even a single missed call ever. Neither have I tolerated this happening to anyone. All my friends and colleagues are people like me only. We do not do such things and have never even let them happen around us. One of my friends had once beaten 2 boys black and blue for harassing some girl he did not even know. I am always very cautious about the safety and security of my employees and all this I have been doing forever. Yet incidences like this happen. I am not one of those who like to live under the happy illusions that sexual and physical harassment of girls is an epidemic found in economically backward parts of the society only. Or only uneducated people are responsible for doing such deeds. I don’t feel that even “desperation” is a major cause. The ability or intent to physically violate and hurt someone is not something that comes from being poor or uneducated. If this is happening in all the segments of the society irrespective of financial or educational background what is it that we are doing wrong? This cluelessness and the accompanied helplessness makes me angry. More sad than angry. I want to make the city safe for women but I do not know what I should do or what I should ask others to do.
We get angry every time anything of this sort happens. We outrage. We rally. We cry about the ‘monstrosity’ and the ‘heinousness’ of the crime. That confuses me. Would we have been this much outraged if it were not a case of rape but a robbery-homicide. If instead of taking the victim to a secluded place and raping her the culprits would have robbed her and her companion of their belongings and slit their throats, would the case still be getting this much attention as it is getting now. I am not questioning the horror or the effect of a rape but why is it considered bigger crime than murder. More importantly why are some rapes more outraging than the others. Almost every day the newspapers carry news of some sexual assault or the other yet we keep our outrage, our opinions and our ralleys reserved for some choice ones. When a family of 4 commits suicide because their hard-earned savings were conned by some big firm, is it a small crime? Is it truly so that we only wait for the mainstream media or celebrities on twitter to tell us when it is time to rise and make hollow claims of our resolve to prevent such acts in future. Or have we all realized our cluelessness that there is nothing that we can or want to do other than making noise from time to time and trying to empower women by arming them and passing regulations for them. Women do not want protection. They want freedom. They do not want to be prepared for such mishaps. Most importantly they want acknowledgement. Acknowledgement that they are our equal. Acknowledgement that we realize that it is not ok for any male to ever be abusive or violent towards a woman.
The police force cannot do anything. Getting the judiciary to make stricter rules would be useless. The penalty for murder is death or life sentence. And yet people kill others everyday. Making bigger and harsher rules is futile unless the smaller ones are implemented. We live in a society where you wait for a few seconds after your light has turned green because you know and have accepted that some other motorist will be definitely flooring the pedal as he sees his light turning red. It would be a utopian world where we can have law-abiding citizens but at least we can have a law-fearing society. The day your child sees you bribe a traffic police officer to escape the fine for talking on phone while driving or jumping a light, that day gets the lesson that rules and laws are flexible. That it is not a wrong thing to go around them and soon all rules start to come under the “flexible” category. It is this flexibility that needs to be removed. If the general populace is made aware and is constantly reminded that even the smallest of crimes would be punished until then there is possibility that they will start fearing for the repercussions of the bigger crimes. It is important that such principles are taught to the kids from early age. It is important that they are made aware that being rude to a female member or the family, school or the society is not acceptable. The kids who find joy in kicking a dog are later more likely to be insensitive to the pains and suffering of anybody else and some of them then move on to inflicting them. This is the least I think we can do at individual levels. To teach our coming generations that it is absolutely necessary for them to be respectful towards women. To follow and respect the rules, even the smallest ones, at our end. This is the least we should do. I think.
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