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“You are always so negative!” Activists who speak up about sex crimes against women are told. But how else do we fight against these?
Be it Badaun, Hathras, Muzaffarpur, Sidhi … cities or villages, sex crimes against women, girls, rape cases are increasing rapidly. The government has made the laws more stringent but the criminals appear to be getting more audacious.
Should we give up the fight against these barbaric crimes and lock our lips in silence?
While the verdict of the Hathras gang rape case is yet to be announced, new cases of sexual crimes against women have thrown the country in panic mode right at the beginning of the new year.
Two men kidnapped a thirteen-year-old girl, took her to a forest and raped her. She was then held hostage in a dhaba where she was gang-raped by the dhaba owner and four other men. Three days later when she was sent home in a truck, the girl shared her plight with the truck driver. But instead of helping the girl or taking her to the police, he also took it as an opportunity to sexually assault her.
A few days before this traumatic crime, a savage man had not only raped a five-year-old girl but also tried to blow out her eyes so that she could not identify him in front of the police.
A temple priest in Badaun, along with two of his accomplices, preyed upon a fifty-year-old woman vising the temple alone, gang-raped and murdered her.
A 48 year old woman was not only raped, but criminals also put an iron rod in her vagina.
And now a fresh case of sexual abuse and cruelty has come to light with a 17-year-old girl at the Rescue Center in Malappuram district, Kerala. The girl has accused not one or two or ten but 38 men of sexually violating her. The police have so far arrested 33 men.
For every minute that we spend wondering where such barbarians are coming from, more monsters would have raped many more women/girls.
Is any humanity left there or have most men become savage predators?
Whenever such horrific crimes occur, when you read the news of such rape, what is your first reaction? Throwing away the newspaper in disgust and rage, cursing the ineffectiveness of police-government-society, demanding more stringent legislation, writing a poignant post on social media with hashtags and slogans like ‘I hate this country, this country is no longer worth living, shoot the monsters on the street, India we are ashamed’? Or silently scrolling that news and moving on?
Normally, every such criminal incident is followed by agitated discussions, loud condemnation, protests but within a few days, all the cases are relegated to obscure corners of newspapers. We – the public may keep shouting ourselves hoarse on social media, within our homes, in group chats but for how long?
Within a few days, we too forget everything and move on to mourning or celebrating a lost/won cricket match, the angry outbursts of a vanquished US President, the shenanigans of a loudmouth actress. Or just whining over the coronavirus and our pitiful life. Or baking a sinfully gooey chocolate cake. That’s only natural. After all, there is a limit to anger or outrage, you cannot be furious at every rape, can you? Protest fatigue, is it?
Isn’t that why we have started to see the disgusting crime like rape divided into several categories?
If only rape has taken place, then it is conveniently dismissed as an ‘ordinary incident’ but if the woman (or girl) is not only raped but also gang-raped and attacked brutally, then all hell breaks loose immediately.
That is, such incidents of rape have become an everyday thing and we have accepted them as regular, routine incidents and there is no need to be enraged at them. Society, police, government and courts also deign to take cognizance of these crimes only when they fall under the category of rarest of rare.
Have all our sensibilities, our conscience died? Why?
Through the Nirbhaya Act the govt made the law for the prevention of sexual offenses against women even more stringent, but has it succeeded in instilling any fear of the law among persons with criminal tendencies? Now, in order to hide their identity and avoid being caught, the criminals are going to the extent of killing or blinding their prey.
There are regular reports from many states of the country that videos of rape of young, teenage girls are becoming very popular and their demand is increasing day by day. Child porn and rape porn videos have become a business in themselves. Is this also why such crimes are increasing in rural areas?
In fact, these criminals know that the investigation and legal process of the police are so complex, so time taking, that the evidence is erased (or erased deliberately) in the meantime, and the witnesses are discouraged from attending the court hearings. Many times, the victimized woman/girl and her family also withdraw the case to avoid hassles of court hearings and police investigation or under pressure from society and criminals. Money-police-political collusion and social pressure also do not allow the criminal to be convicted and suitably punished.
Everyone seems to have an opinion in the name of women’s place in society and women’s safety and as free citizens, they have a right to express them, but very often these statements are very stupid, insensitive, and insulting.
Recently, a Chief Minister became so concerned about the safety of women that he started giving assurances of tracking their movements when they step out of home for any work.
At the same time, the leader of another political party was enraged at the proposal to increase the official marriage age of the girls because according to him, the body of girls becomes capable of becoming a mother at the age of 15 years.
Is the importance of a woman limited to being a baby-making machine only?
And on the other hand, when a member of the National Woman Commission (whose job is to ensure women’s safety and rights) went to her village to investigate the case of rape and murder of a fifty-year-old woman, she expressed her ‘displeasure’ by asking why the woman chose to go out at an inappropriate time, that too alone. According to her, if the woman had taken a child alone with her, she would not have been attacked. Does it mean that even an elderly woman can not go out alone in the evening? The question also arises, if she is being assaulted, will a child be able to protect her?
Now if the women commission officials start accusing the victim of inappropriate social behavior, how can you expect them to ensure justice for her? Why do they find no wrongdoing, no crime of a man in this act? Why does the onus of her safety lie on the woman?
A few years ago, famous actor Amitabh Bachchan said that he did not want to talk about incidents like rape because he finds the topic ‘abhorrent’. He was clearly talking from his position of privilege where he could ignore all such incidents, but was severely criticized for his statement. But will Amitabh Bachchan’s condemnation of such heinous crimes, or by any other eminent person prevent and reduce these crimes?
Have we started getting frustrated that our voice is not being heard anywhere? I myself get disheartened often…what are we going to achieve by talking on these painful topics, when our society is not ready to listen and understand? Then I remind myself that it is natural to be frustrated in such a dismal environment, but should we stop voicing our angst, our concerns and fears, our protests because of what is not happening?
Not at all. Because now there is even a greater need for all of us to express our thoughts, our opposition, and our anger.
As the famous saying goes, ‘constant dripping of water wears away even a rock’. So let’s not give up, let’s not sit silent. No matter how peace-loving we may be, it is good to make noise for some things. And rape and sexual crimes are not a small crime.
Image source: a still from the Hindi film Mom
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