I was going through the Indian Express (a leading national daily in India) today and I was surprised to see that apart from the one news which talked about the legend Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement from One Day International Cricket, all news on the front page covered either rape or molestation cases. For those of you who might be unaware; this recent coverage to rape cases has been spurred by the rape and near death of a 23 year old medical student by a group of 6 people in the national capital of India last week. This has caused an uprising, demonstrations and protests are being held around the country. People are angry as the negligent police have failed in its duties, yet again. The criminal justice system of the country is riddled and incompetent, corrupt and politically influenced.
The para-medical student, who had to suffer the utter brutality, fights for her life in Safdarjung hospital, Delhi. This 23 year old young woman was brutally raped, beaten to near death and thrown out of a moving bus in the heart of the city. And she was not alone. She was with a male friend, who was also beaten up by these people and was thrown out of the moving bus. This is the one case that caught media’s attention due to its place and time of occurrence but there are many other cases that happen every day.
Statistics say that rape cases in India have risen 875% in the last 40 years. And this is only the registered data. Consider all those cases where the suffered party fails or is incapable of registering a complaint. And that happens a lot in the country due to the illiteracy, the corrupt system and a fear of rejection from the society. This number will go up 3-4 times if that is considered. This outrageous behavior of Indian men brings me to a very important question; why do Indian men rape? Are they so deprived that they have to resort to these measures?
I don’t think so. I feel it has more to with the Indian culture, which is built around hierarchies of gender, faith, color and caste; the biggest division of them all being male versus female. This is a country where the uneducated and the less educated, the majority, still have the mindset that the ‘weaker sex’ is just a peat of meat that can reproduce and nothing more. There are clear examples; if there is a boy and a girl in the family, the boy goes to the school, the girl learns the daily chores. Look at dowry and female foeticide; they don’t cease to exist in the country.
There have been uproars like this before, there have been television programs, there have been awareness campaigns and there have been action plans, but it will only help to a point. The real change has to start from self, from home and from family. Parents and teachers need to teach children that men and women are equal. Boys have to be taught there sisters are not there to get their leftovers. Men have to be taught to respect their wives. Implementing safety measures and making policies is an obvious step but it is this that will help us to curb these horrific incidents.
Mirk (Sahil Bansal)