Two Cases and Two Verdicts

Posted: October 7, 2010

juggling_time5.jpgCoincidentally, two much covered rape cases have both had verdicts handed down today – two different verdicts and two different courts. In the Pratibha Srikantamurthy case, where Pratibha, a young BPO employee was raped and murdered by a cab driver, the accused has been found guilty. In the TISS case, where six men were alleged to have raped an American national, all accused have been acquitted on grounds of insufficient evidence.

I don’t want to speculate on the judgements and whether they were right, particularly in the second case, but it is a good time to point out on what slender threads the prosecution of a rape case in this country hangs.

First, rape victims are subjected often, not just to humiliating questions, but to invasive procedures that violate their dignity. This is assuming that they gather the courage to go to the police, or have someone to support them in filing an FIR. It is well know that many rapes are never reported, what with families wanting to hush up the ‘loss of izzat.’

Trials take time, as they do for all cases in India. In the meanwhile, women may want to move on. Some, who have no other option, and fear that they will get no husbands, even agree to marry their rapists. Naturally, the case collapses.

Even if the case does go to trial, victims have to contend with the fact that it is their character, their actions, that will be placed under scrutiny. Indeed, in the TISS case (as in many others), early attempts were made to paint the victim as a depraved woman. That says something about our idea of consent. A woman who agrees to accompany a group of men, cannot possibly say no to sex, we think. Not just the victim’s character – in the Scarlett Keeling case, much energy was devoted to analysing the mother’s character.

Brave is the woman who can withstand this the scrutiny of her life and her actions being laid open for judgement. I’m reminded of the movie, Damini, made almost 20 years ago. Melodramatic as it was, it made its point – a rape victim in India is raped once by her assailants but condemned again and again by the society she lives in.

How much has changed in these 20 years, do you think?

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  1. It’s not just my generation, it’s also the attitude of my parents’/in-laws’ generation. You see, just as I wasn’t brought up to be submissive, my mother-in-law never had to live in a joint family IL set up and she was completely clueless as to what to do with me once I was installed in their flat. Also, my parents had encouraged me to leave home five years before I got married, giving me a kind of independence that made living with even my parents difficult, forget having to live by the rules of my husband’s parents. My in-laws aren’t demanding at all, but I’m used to running my own household. Was already used to it when I got married.

  2. I would agree with Sue to some extent. Partly, all of us are so used to the ‘doing my own thing’ bit that it becomes difficult to live with other people. Also, as the post mentions, it’s not just younger people. Older people too want their space. Plus, not all older people want to do a second parenting stint running behind grandchildren – which invariably happens in the Indian context if you live with children!

  3. It is not that parents would not want to look after their grandchildren. child rearing has become so very demanding that nothing one does seems to be okay for the granchildren’s generation. a friend commented that her g’kids coming from Japan want to brunch on maggie at 10 in the morning and the concept of a meal consisting of dal,rice/roti and sabzi is declared unfit for human consumption. The daughter blames her for not letting the kids eat whatever they want to or prefer.

    That is why they don’t want to come to India” she says and my friend is almost in tears.The DIL hasn’t arrived on the scene yet but my friend says that if a daughter brought up by her can have so much to complain about she ought not to have any expectation from the DIL. We too would go to our grandparent’s place but I don’t remember having a problem with the food/customs etc. May be globalization has something to do with the changed attitude.

  4. Woah, HG. I was tough on my parents for a while but I’ve learnt to let go. If I hadn’t, my son would have made me. When he visits my folks (he’s with them for the month now) he goes to bed in the early hours, watches horror movies all night and dines off a slab of dark chocolate and maybe a biscuit. Seems to survive it it quite happily. 🙂

  5. HG, I didn’t mean that all grandparents don’t want to look after grandchildren. But one can’t deny that it is a tiring (and often thankless) job. I don’t blame old people who may want a little peace 🙂 After all, they have done their share of work in their younger days, so one should not “expect” them to do a second round.

  6. @aparna;I wouldn’t want to baby sit my grandkids all day long either.It is very tiring I agree. May be with someone to help out I’d galdly supervise provided my children place absolute trust in my discretionary powers and let me decide things instead of always saying ‘your times were different’. ‘Or we were not given this or that privelege and our children should not be denied something that we can afford to give them’. It later becomes quite difficult for them when they are not taught to adjust and an occasional ‘no’ will not harm them. But in many households I see that grandchildren are easier to handle but one’s own children behave like a ‘noveau rich’ group and find fault with every arrangement.

    @sue:Your son makes you go soft on your parents. Wow!that’s good news. I agree that little tiffs with one’s parents would not harm but one should know when to stop. A daughter or son can take the liberty and parents will not hold it against them but to behave as if they are outdated specimen and know nothing about child rearing can be frustrating.

  7. @HG “Your son makes you go soft on your parents. Wow!that’s good news. “

    That’s how it should be, na? We never let our parents interfere between us and our grandfather (the only grandparent around back then) so I knew I’d have to give Rahul and my parents equal freedom. That said, I laughed out loud when you said “to behave as if they are outdated specimen and know nothing about child rearing can be frustrating”. In my defence, around Rahul they act more like 4 year olds than he does!

    They have a great relationship, touchwood, despite my earlier paranoia.

  8. I loved reading this post. Very few people actually bring up this topic.
    As a child I have lived in Joint yet Not Joint family.My Grandparents both maternal and paternal lived in the same apartment complex but not “with” us and I believe that was the best arrangement for all parties involved. Sadly I don’t see this concept agreeable to many. Many parents even today insist in living with their sons and that usually translates into a household full of under currents, toe stepping and even quarreling. The daughter-in-laws complain and crib endlessly to their friends at work and the mother-in-laws discuss their woes with sisters, cousins and sometimes friends.
    I wish people ( all generations) respected each others need for space and followed the “Live and Let Live” way of life….

  9. I think we go through this ever so often. Like you, I have adapted while I was younger. Somehow, I feel we are a generation that is trapped by this adaptable nature of ours. We adapted to our parents and elders, our in-laws and our children expect us to adapt to their lifestyle too! While it is not difficult, it can get a little tiring. We love them, but cannot as you rightly put it keep up with their pace.

  10. Lipstick:
    I wish people ( all generations) respected each others need for space and followed the “Live and Let Live” way of life….

    Amen. the arrangement in your family with both grandparents living close enough but not in the same house is the best possible arrangement.

    We adapted to our parents and elders, our in-laws and our children expect us to adapt to their lifestyle too!

    Oh yes we did and still do!! But I’ve had the experience of accompanying my daughter and son in law to dinners that start at 10 and continue till about 2 or 3 in the morning. They sleep till 12 or 1 the next afternoon while us early birds are up and about and walk from room to room killing time and getting bored. No fault of their’s but our rules are set. Getting on in age ha!ha!

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