Wednesday, December 19, 2012

India, Women and Sexual Violence


Every once in a while, incidences catch people by such force that we are stirred out of our slumber. The brutal rape of a 23 year paramedical student in Delhi on the night of 16th Dec, 2012 was one such incidence. Rapes happen in Delhi at regular frequency. There is usual noise and debate. Then things die down, and life goes as usual. Those in charge of administering city, forget about the incident as another statistics. However, the event of 16th Dec, 2012 has shaken common people into action. Many have comeout in protest. Parliament has taken unanimous decision to stringent punishment. Police has acted with alacrity and arrested most of the criminals. Let us hope these people are convicted and given exemplary punishment.

This incidence stands out purely from other rapes because of extreme brutality. A boy and girl were enticed into a bus on the pretext of plying on  a route that will drop them home. Once on the bus, there were five men, who apparently were drinking and out to make easy money, started to pass lewd comment at the couple. When the boy protested, he was beaten with iron rod. Girl wanted to protect to protect the boy, was brutally beaten, raped, iron rod inserted into her private part. Finally the girl and the boy were dumped on the road, stripped naked, presumed dead. Girl is fighting in a hospital, her intestine removed, her blood infected, even morphine is unable to suppress her pain. Even police are shocked at the extent of brutality. Some suggested, these people were actually sadist and psychopath.

There is outrage in the city and in the country. There is demand for exemplary punishment. Usually criminals get 7 - 10 years. Since there is delay in justice, many serve the punishment as undertrial and get out soon after the verdict is pronounced. One demand is give more than one life sentence without parole. Criminals like these should not see freedom till their last breath. There is demand for chemical castration. Many argued that by removing testosterone, it may be possible to remove aggression and libido. Finally, there is demand for capital punishment. Although, many argue that capital punishment may lead to rapist actually killing the victim. Many argued that encouraging killing of rapist may brutalise our society. Question remains is our society any humane now? If you have animals roaming in the guise of humans, people who have no empathy for another human being, do they have right to live?  We need to exterminate a rabid dog. Is this person/s any better than a wild animal that needs to be treated in a humane manner? It is important to remember that these criminals went about their job very casually after beating and raping two people to near death. Do they really have any remorse? 

There is also the angle of policing and police attitude. The bus in which rape happened, was not suppose to be plying on that night. Because it is not a public transport. It went through five police check points. Yet no one batted an eyelid. May be it is not fair to blame police for such an out of the box incidence. Yet attitude of police towards women that complain of rape or molestation is very derogatroy and demeaning. Several officers have been caught on camera describing victims of rape are of loose moral standing and deserve the treatment they get. 

Rapes do happen in more developed countries, that are better policed. However, we hardly hear such ghastly and brutal assault from other megalopolis like New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo.  I think difference is speedy trial, efficient conviction and stringent punishment all these lead to a fear of law. This fear is missing in India. That is why criminals in Delhi could rape in a moving bus, drive around busy street and come to work next day unconcerned of anything happening to them. 

Finally, why such brutality? Police and psychiatrists believe the attacker/s was a psychopath. As such these people have little empathy. Combined with alcohol and pornography might have aggravated the situation. Especially porn that present women as a commodity, make rapists treat women as an item to be used for sexual gratification only. There is also an attitude in the society where boys are preferred over girls. I do not know how much that attitude is relevant in this case, because I think a few depraved and drunk men went about the act without any anticipation of the consequence.

As a person with two daughters rapidly growing up, I am concerned. Unless society wakes up, changes attitude and alters law we are in for trouble. India is going through cataclysmic changes. People from different strata are waking up and demanding rights. Old values are breaking new ones are being formed. Many people, whom we treated so poorly, are coming up. Their values system may be very different. Under this circumstance, unless our adminstrators use modern methodology for policing, for administering justice such events are likely to happen again.






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