Sunday, September 1, 2013

Woman = Human

Welcome to India: the country where a woman can be a president, but must fear for her safety; the country where women are beatified in its mythological lore but abhorred and abused in society; the country where no lofty panegyric is spared in proposing causes for empowering women but where women fight for a place in society; the country where news channels have women as reporters and shows devoted to women’s rights, but – devoid of any compunction – film the molestation of a woman just to add to the sensational value of the case; the country where men may frequent pubs, but the moment a woman does, she becomes a creature of little or no values. Welcome to India: the fourth worst country in the world, to be a woman.

Image: Amnesty International

And all this, in a country whose Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, once said (circa 1921), stating thus: Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex.

The abuse of women in India is an everyday affair, literally. And this is not a reflection of the mere extent depravity, but a transgression of the standards of decency and an exposition of the failure of governance in keeping violence against women in check. That a law outlawing sexual harassment and molestation is still evading India is a terrible amplification of this sordid reality. All the country has, is a Neanderthal penal code that goes back to 1860, where save for rape, only the “outraging the modesty of a woman” is punishable – with either seven, or two years, as the case maybe. There’s nothing to punish the crimes “in between” – and the latter is a terribly archaic and ambiguous term. Needless to say, the hotbed of impunity that India is when it comes to women’s rights abuses and violence against women, is facilitated by the climate of legal, governmental and policy-based apathy.

Why the hatred, really? Women are humans, too.