Wednesday, January 22, 2014

National Day of the Girl Child: Post #1: Not a Nice Place to Be In!

Deepti Menon writes about the trials and tribulations that challenge women and girls in India: rape, sexual violence and the endless blame game.

Image from Pixabay (c) Lucida

The fiends are at it again! The dust hadn't settled after the rape of the 23-year-old in Delhi, (and may it never do so!), when the next gang rape was committed. The numbers of atrocities grew, as criminals, who should have quaked in their shoes, danced in abandon over the corpses of their hapless victims!

Just when one thought that human cruelty could not get worse, it did. A labourer from Bihar picked up an innocent five year old girl and raped her over three horrific days. When the poor mite was finally rescued, the doctors found bottles and candles inside her, a scenario too gruesome to even imagine. And yet, a monster of a man had done that, caused immense pain to an infant, confident that he lived in a country where he could get away with it. A country where in a gang rape, the most brutal rapist actually has knowledgeable lawyers and activists pleading for his acquittal because he is a juvenile. Underage he might have been, but in mental years, he was older that Methuselah himself, as he used modes of torture that even hardened criminals might have hesitated to use! And yet, shamefully, he actually had people on his side, as does almost every felon who has been sentenced to Death Row. 

Patently evident, and painfully so, is the fact that India has turned into a soft state, a state soft on criminals, corrupt politicians and the venal wealthy. However, the common man, the helpless and the poor have no means to evade justice, even for a petty theft. The police serve the ruling class, stomping heavily on those who cannot serve their purpose.  Every time there is a horrifying case of rape or brutality, determined protesters come on to the streets, trying to bolster public support and sympathy. But this ends in a one-way street, with no support from the politicians, who pay lip service with put-on accents as they lisp, “We will find the perpetrators, and let law take its own course!" 

Unfortunately, by the time law gets out of bed, puts on its socks and decides to take a stand, all the clues are lost, as in the Aarushi case, or the afflicted people have lost heart, as their loved ones have gone beyond the pale, leaving behind pain and anguish. The 23-year-old girl’s case shook not only the nation, but the whole world, but even today, seasoned lawyers argue about whether the main accused, Ram Singh, committed suicide or was murdered in jail. And shrill social activists argue about whether the death sentence will really deter people from committing crimes like rape and murder. This is just the point! The four ‘adult’ rapists in the 23-year-old’s case have been given the death sentence, maybe because the entire nation rose up in arms against them.

The “most unkindest cut of all” is when these same activists argue about the human rights of the criminals, who have got away with heinous crimes. What human rights are we talking about here? Don't victims who have suffered at the hands of these monsters have the right to be avenged?  

The ones who protest the loudest are those who, most often, have never undergone the agony of having their loved ones cut down in youth. They have never been parents who have lovingly nurtured their young ones to adulthood, only to lose them to crazed sex maniacs.  Or faced a living death when their innocent little babies are raped and brutalized by men whose wives have gone away for a vacation!  They have not seen their daughters turn into vegetables because ward boys have raped them in hospital, or witnessed their daughters' beautiful faces eaten away with acid, and left blind and helpless, because of rejected men with huge egos. 

Even as we debate endlessly, more rapes take place every day. An eighteen year old German teenager was recently raped on a train, and a fifty one year old Danish woman gang raped that very week. According to an official document, rape cases in Delhi have doubled in 2013 and molestation has gone up by almost four times. A new Chief Minister is at the helm in Delhi, with all the right motives behind him, but methinks he is getting a trifle swayed by the not-so-right motives at the moment. One gets a sense of the one-eyed man leading the blind! May he settle down soon and actually go after the corrupt and the cruel, the reason why he was voted into power.

Whom do we blame finally? The politicians who pull the strings, and turn a blind eye; the police who react to wires pulled by their masters; the silent bystander who allows crimes to be committed before his eyes, where lone girls are molested by gangs of men, and drives his vehicle away in haste when he sees a woman and her six month old baby dying on the road, despite the pleas of a hapless husband.    

Do we blame the law of the land that has no harsh deterrent that could stop these criminals in their tracks? Or the advocates who cry foul at every juncture, putting a spoke in the wheels of justice? 

Or do we just form strong silent groups and take tough measures to keep ourselves and the people round us safe and secure? After all, self help is the best help, and the day we stop being mere onlookers and dumb witnesses, and take action against those who break the law and harm others, criminals might think twice before they commit crimes. And that might just be the difference between life and death!       

Deepti Menon has always believed in the power of the pen. Having done her post graduation in English Literature and her B.Ed. in English, she had the option of teaching and writing, and did both with great enjoyment. She started writing at the age of ten, long before she acquired a Diploma in Journalism. Deepti also had the advantage of being an Army kid, and later an Army wife, and loved the idea of travelling around India, meeting new people and acquiring new skills. She firmly believes that much of her personality was honed during those travels. For Deepti, writing needs to sparkle with simplicity and originality, and she strives to find that one word that conveys her ideas most meaningfully to her readers. She believes that Mark Twain had the right idea when he said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”