Yesterday’s post on the Delhi rape case generated a lot of heat among the readers and I got a lot of response for it. The responses make my belief even stronger that women will continue to be raped in India. In this piece I will address some of the responses that I got and make a case for what I said yesterday and what I am reiterating today.
Why do you have to be so negative?
This was by far the most common response from the emails I got and the comments that I read on the first piece. Well, how can I be positive? A 23 year old girl who had her whole life before her has been raped. Doctors who are treating her have said that they haven’t seen a worse case of sexual assault in all their lives. And one of the rapists has said they did what they did to her because she was resisting rape and biting them. Her intestines have been taken out and if she lives she won’t be able to eat again.
As the poet Sahir Ludhianvi wrote in Pyasa “Hum gamzada hai, laaye kahan se khushi ke geet. denge wahi, jo paayenge iss zindagi se hum.” Loosely translated this means that “I am unhappy, where do I get songs of happiness from? I can only give what I get from this life.” For those looking for more positivity can go and watch Salman Khan’s Dabanng 2 which releases today.
And as they watch and enjoy Bhai (as his fans like to call Salman) bashing up the baddies one more time, they should remember that this reel life superstar is accused of ramming his Toyota Land Cruiser into a bakery in Bandra on September 28,2002, killing one person and injuring four others. Salman has been summoned by the court 82 times till now. And he has not been present there even once. People like him are a symbol of the rich and famous in this country who systematically abuse the system of justice, take it for a ride and ensure that it does not work.
Girls get raped because they wear sexy clothes
This is by far the most appalling thing that I have ever heard. One gentleman who wrote to me had this to say. “Don’t you think girls are misusing their freedom…our education doesn’t teaches culture it teaches only history and tradition. When the freedom is given to women…they should use it n the fruitful way. Wearing jeans below belly proves they wants(sic) some attraction from opposite genders(sic) of society.”
Another man wrote in saying “The simple reason is foreign influence. we have forgotten our tradational (sic) wearings (sic) and jumping to foreign culture particularly ladies and young girls of different ages working or studying wearing very very less cloths(sic) and showing their figure in a very nasty way. We used to see this type of body showing in the movies but now a days in every gulli or street you can see a live show. If this type of life style previles (sic) no one can prevent or control rape cases.”
So these men want us to believe that women are getting raped because they want to get raped. If this is the attitude prevails even among some men, then god help us! Let me try and flip this argument around and explain why this is nonsense of the highest order.
I see all around me, bare chested men in just their striped shorts, bermudas and pyjamas with long naadas dangling, and no woman that I know has actually ever expressed the desire to mob these barely clad men and publicly pull their naadas down. So much for sexually arousing exposure!
Delhi is a very safe place
Another gentleman who claimed to be a CEO of a company wrote to me to say that he had been living in Delhi for the last seven years and he found it to be a very safe place. His 21 year old son whenever he came to India for his holidays from the US where he is studying partied till very late in the night and came back home only at around 4am in the morning and hence that proved that Delhi is a safe place. When I asked him what about the girl friends of his son? Did they party till 4am as well? Pat came the reply. No, they had 11pm deadlines. Sons can party till 4am because sons don’t get raped.
Another gentleman wrote to me that Delhi is safe for 99.994% of females and backed up with some statistical mumbo jumbo. “The media needs stories to carry on with their TRP’s & viewership so that they can make more mullah. And we are happy reading the craps which they serve changing the flavors every now and then so that we don’t get bored. Killing the girl child is not something new, its there for centuries in India. Kings wanted their heirs again a male & so had multiple queens.And so had a male sooner or later, the same is followed for generation’s. That’s why a Rahul Gandhi leads Congress & not a Priyanka,” he added.
Delhi (572) has more rapes than Mumbai (221), Kolkata (46), Chennai (76), Bangalore (97) and Hyderabad (59), the next five biggest cities in India, put together. Guess that makes Delhi a very safe city! There is this small cottage industry that seems to have sprung up almost overnight trying to defend Delhi as being safe, as not being the rape capital of India and so on. If we are not even ready to acknowledge that Delhi is an unsafe city (and frankly it gives me the creeps) how can we even start addressing its fascination for raping its women.
It was not your sister/mother/wife who was raped
One women wrote in saying this: “Just read your article and I am speechless reading that. Not in a good sense mind you. Though the facts that you have mentioned are correct. But as you have said that stoning these scums is not a solution. Would you have said this if this had happened to your sister, mother or wife? Would you? try and understand the pain that girl has gone through. The accused is saying that they inserted metal rod inside her and when removed that rod some rope was sticking to it.. that was her intestine man… can you even barley imagine what she had gone through those 40 mins. keep your loved one in her shoe and then tell us killing them will not stop this. What will ? I find you sick who is taking this issue to some other extent.”
A few other people wrote in along similar lines talking about a rape in Tamil Nadu and the rapists being killed in an encounter after that. “This may be ruthless but these kind of punishment will tell others to be cautious…i would like to recall the Coimbatore incident were a 10 year old girl was raped by two of the car drivers in 2010. The next day there was a huge cry out in the state , understanding the pulse of people police immediately swing in to action and he was encountered, the whole tamil nadu know that this was planned execution by law enforcement agencies but all people of tamil nadu welcomed it.”
If we as a society want to stone people to death, kill them in encounters etc, how does that make us any different from the Taliban? And as I said in my piece yesterday any solution is as good as the system that will execute it. In a country like India if anything like chemical castration and encounter killings for committing rapes becomes the order of the day and the police are pushed to solve rape cases faster, what are they likely to do? More often than not they will get hold of some random guy (the homeless, the slum dweller or probably just about the first person they can get their eyes on) beat the shit out of him and get him to confess to it. How do we ensure something like that does not happen? There is absolutely no way to do that.
Why can’t we make karate compulsory for women
This was another major thought that came across that women should learn karate/martial arts/boxing for their security against men. Great idea! But what will a woman do when four men pounce upon her! Another idea along similar lines was that buses shouldn’t have filmed window panes. As one gentleman wrote in “Mr.Harish salve in NDTV, insisted that the busses (sic) should not be allowed to have filmed window panes.” Yes, but women are raped in auto-rickshaws, cars, go-downs, homes, everywhere. What do we do about that?
But, like all the other writers, you are also just addressing the problem, without any solution.
I got loads of emails asking me for a solution. One woman wrote in saying “You are the ambassador of media and you should educate the Janta, by writing about the Laws as to what a layman can ask from the Government as a form of justice for such miseries.”
What solution are we talking about? It isn’t rocket science here. We are not talking about how to get an Indian man on the moon. The solution is better policing. But the police in this country have sold themselves out lock, stock and barrel for money. And other than that their attitude towards rape leads me to believe that women will continue to be raped.
As an earlier piece on this website reported “Satbir Singh, Additional SHO of Sector 31 Police Station, Faridabad, puts it: “Ladkiya jo hai unko yahan tak yahan tak (he gestures to mean that women should cover their entire body, then carries on speaking)…Skirt pehenti hai. Blouse dalti hai; poora nahi dalti hai. Dupatta nahi dalti. Apne aapko dikhawa karti hai. Baccha uske taraf akarshit hota hai.” (Girls should be covered from here to here… They wear skirts, blouses, that don’t cover them fully. Don’t wear a dupatta. They display themselves. A kid will naturally be attracted to her.)”
“Sub-Inspector Arjun Singh, SHO of Surajpur Police Station, Greater Noida, clarifies the position further: “She is dressed in a manner that people get attracted to her. In fact, she wants them to do something to her.””
And why blame the lowly Sub-Inspectors when even the first citizen of this country does not take rape seriously. As an earlier piece on this website pointed out “It is also worth recalling that before demitting office as President, Pratibha Patil commuted the death sentences of several rapists. A record 30 pardons were granted in double-quick time. Among them was Santosh Yadav, who was already serving a jail sentence for rape. In jail, as gardener of the jailer, he and a fellow convict raped the jailer’s own daughter. He was pardoned by Patil. Dharmender Singh and Narendra Yadav killed a family of five when their minor daughter resisted rape. They, too, were pardoned.”
A woman President pardoning rapists. Do I need to say anything more on why I remain pessimistic!
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on December 21, 2012.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at [email protected])
Late last night while flipping television channels I saw TV Mohandas Pai, a former CFO and HR Head of Infosys, advocating ‘chemical castration’ for rapists. A leading television anchor also ran his show yesterday around the theme and instigated his celebrity panellists in trying to get them to advocate chemical castration for rapists in India. That is the problem with arguments that emerge due to the heat of the moment. My heart is also thinking along similar lines. It even goes to the extent of telling me that the rapists should be stoned to death. But my head tells me even that won’t make a difference.
Any solution is as good as the system that executes it. In a country like India if anything like chemical castration for committing rapes becomes the order of the day and the police are pushed to solve rape cases faster, what are they likely to do? More often than not they will get hold of some random guy (the homeless, the slum dweller or probably just about the first person they can get their eyes on) beat the shit out of him and get him to confess to it. How do we ensure something like that does not happen? There is absolutely no way to do that.
The other point here is that the police and the judiciary the way they have evolved in India cater more to the rich and powerful rather than to those who ‘need’ the system to work for them. How do we ensure that solutions like ‘chemical castration’ will not be abused by the rich and the powerful?
Someone very close to me for the last two years has been caught up fighting a false case registered against him in New Delhi. It takes is a bribe of Rs 15,000-20,000 to the local thanedar to get a false first information report (FIR) registered. And it takes Rs 500-1000 to the babu at the court to ensure that the case does not come up for hearing, every time it is scheduled. And this in a place like Delhi, which is the capital of the country. Imagine what must be happening in small towns and villages across India? The police in this country have sold out lock, stock and barrel and they shouldn’t be given any further ways of creating more problems for the citizens of this country.
What is interesting is the speed with which Delhi Police has acted in this case and managed to round up most of the rapists. The Delhi High Court has taken suo motu cognizance of the gang-rape and asked the Delhi Police to explain how the offence remained undetected.
Yes the citizens of this country are up in arms against what has happened but that I don’t believe is the real reason why the police and the judiciary have acted with such speed. The only reason for showing the speed that the system has is that the rapists come from the lower strata of the society. They are the ordinary citizens of this country.
As The Times of India reports “The accused have been identified as Ram Singh (33), resident of Ravidas Camp at Sector 3, R K Puram (driver of the bus, DL1PB-0149), his brother Mukesh, 24, (who was driving during the gang rape), Vinay Sharma, 20, (an assistant gym instructor in the area), Pawan Gupta, 18, (fruit seller), Akshay Thakur, 26, (bus cleaner) and another cleaner, Raju, 25.”
If the accused had been the sons of the rich and powerful the entire administration would have by now been working towards getting their names cleared.
The molestation charges against SPS Rathore, an inspector general of police were never proved. He got away with more than a little help from his friends in the government. Manu Sharma, son of Congress politician Venod Sharma, was first acquitted for the murder of model Jessica Lal. With the hue and cry that followed the judgement was overturned and Sharma was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 2009, Sharma was allowed a parole of 30 days to attend to his sick mother and other matters. His mother was later found attending public functions and Sharma was found partying at a nightclub in Delhi.
Matinee idol Salman Khan had rammed his Toyota Land Cruiser into a bakery in Bandra on September 28,2002, killing one person and injuring four others. The case has dragged on for ten years now. Recently, cop turned lawyer-activist YP Singh revealed that the “Police had deliberately not taken the job of issuing summons seriously. Also, Salman was absent 82 times when summoned by the court.” This is what the rich and powerful in this country can do. The police is at their beck and call. Loads of rape cases go nowhere because the rich and the powerful who are the accused simply bribe their way through the system. When the accused go unpunished or justice takes a long time to be delivered, it makes rape a way of life for Indian men.
That brings me to my final point, the male:female sex ratio in India. As Vivek Dehejia and Rupa Subramanya write in Indianomix – Making Sense of Modern India “In 2011, the Census estimates that there were 914 girls for every 1,000 boys for the ages 0-6. This is even worse than in 2001, when there were 927 girls for every 1,000 boys. More pointedly, this ratio is the worst ever since the country’s independence in 1947…In nature, with no sex selection the observed sex ratio is approximately 1,020 males for every 1,000 females.”
What this tells us is that as a country we have a ‘son’ preference. And that leads us to sex-selective abortion and even female infanticide. In simple English we kill our girls before and just after they are born. Delhi and the neigbouring state Haryana have among the lowest sex ratios in the country. And it just doesn’t end there. Debraj Ray and Siwan Anderson have carried out research to suggest that most women who go missing in India do so as adults than at birth or as children. That explains India’s highly skewed sex ratio in favour of men.
Dehejia and Subramanya talk about the research of Ray and Anderson in their book. As they write “They show that about 12 per cent of women in India are missing at birth: they are probably missing due to sex selective abortion or infanticide. Another 25 per cent perish in childbirth. But that’s only a little more than a third of the total. Another 18 per cent go missing during their reproductive period, which picks up among other things deaths during childbirth. But a massive 45 per cent of the total number of missing women go missing in adulthood, something which by definition cannot have anything to do with sex selection.”
Anderson and Ray come up with some more information. “They find that it’s only in Punjab where the majority of missing women are at birth: in fact it’s as high as 60 per cent of the excess female mortality in the state…Two other states show up as having a majority of of their women missing at birth or in childhood (before the age of 15) and it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that they’re Haryana and Rajasthan.”
Hence, we kill our women before birth, after birth and keep killing them as they grow up. In a society like this it is not surprising that men grow up with terribly demented minds and commit heinous rapes like the one in Delhi.
People are appalled. And they want instant justice. Chemical castration. Public hanging. Stoned to death. Anything will do. But what has happened is sheer reflection of the way India has evolved. Women being raped day in and day out is a story of Indian evolution.
And evolution cannot be undone.
So we might take to the streets to protest.
Have candle night vigils.
Protest on Twitter and Facebook.
Call for chemical castration.
Face water cannons from the police.
Sing ballads against the government.
Breakdown and cry while speaking in the Rajya Sabha.
But things won’t change.
As Arvind Kejriwal keeps reminding us “poore system ko badalna padega”. And that of course is easier said than done.
And in a day or two when our conscience is more at peace with itself, we will go back to living our lives like we always have. Because we are like this only.
Meanwhile women will continue to be raped.
The article originally appeared on www.firstpost.com on December 20, 2012.
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at [email protected])