Shock and outrage once again. But the issue is the same — gang rape. What happened on December 16 last year in New Delhi got repeated last Thursday in Mumbai. The Delhi victim died due to massive injuries inflicted on her by the brutes who raped her. The Mumbai survivor has stated: “Rape is not the end of life.” So, here we are — declaring how brave the two rape victims have been. But what about the thousands of others who die a thousand deaths bearing the stigma of rape? While some have committed suicide, many more want to die. Along with them their families are destroyed. Some because they had to relocate to start life afresh, others because no one wants to marry their daughters.
Criminal acts against women are not happening in isolation. Even as the nation was aghast and the Mumbai Police set out to hunt the absconding rapists in the recent case, another woman was insulted in Delhi’s Mehrauli area. The 19-year-old mother of two children was gang raped by six persons. All the accused were known to the victim, who reached the police station and filed a report on the basis of which, the accused were arrested. Sadly, the case has not made headlines, just as most others across the country.
The courage of the Mumbai photojournalist, no doubt, is exemplary and should be a reminder to all rape survivors that what happened with them was not their fault. And instead of being pitied, they should move on in life with determination and give a fitting response to those who apparently want to curtail women’s freedom. This itself will be a huge tribute to womanhood, as it is up to the rape survivors to ‘be the change’ and see the overnight difference with which society looks at them, then on.
There will always be opportunists telling us that the issue is of migrants and they are the ones guilty of crimes. There will also be mothers who will declare that their rapist son, who has hours before behaved like a beast, is a minor and hence should be treated leniently. But such people are forgetting that it is the mindset of the people, irrespective of the age or place they belong to, who are committing such heinous crimes. And because of whom others want to lock up their daughters at home, whether she is five or 25 years old.
A woman sums up the dilemma of sundry families when she says: “We have lost peace in our household. The moment our teenage daughter says she wants to go out with friends; there is turmoil in the house! After my usual pointers and tiffs with her declaring that ‘every place’ is unsafe, her father repeats all that I have already said to her. We are both on tenterhooks till she returns. We see a grumpy face when she comes back, because we have been frequently calling up to find out if all was okay with her.”
All over the country, the situation is such that parents are unable to understand how to deal with such insecurity. Today it is someone else’s daughter, tomorrow it could be mine — that is the horrifying thought. The menace is to be dealt with. Brutalisation of women has to stop. Having police on each and every street is neither possible nor the solution. Also, can any state deploy policemen inside homes, where fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins eye their own daughters and sisters with lust?
One gets a sense of deja vu when people talk of impossibilities of certain kinds of punishment in ‘civilised society’. But before being judgmental, they need to meet those women and their families who have been ravished and are waiting endlessly for justice from courts for decades. It is easy to say India has fast-track courts now. But then we all are witnessing that the most highlighted December 16 gang-rape case has already dragged on for more than eight months and we are yet to hear a verdict. Since that incident, things have only worsened and women continue to live in fear all the time.
In India, the solution lies in a quick judicial process and shaming the rapists. It is a must to instil in them the fear of the consequences of their action. Parade them and flog them in public and throw them in prison, because it is time to give them a dose of their own medicine. Do this. And see the change in rape statistics all over the country within days.