A Stunned Nation Fights Back

Welcome to Rock Bottom. Breathe the air here, and you will smell the stinking breath of six drunken louts out to have fun. Watch what they do and you will watch the degenerates of the earth claiming their place at the hall of the infamous. Follow them and you will witness a sadistic orgy of unrelenting and ferocious brutality, let loose on a 23 year old bright medical student whose only crime was living in the pathetic environs of “modern” Delhi.

Is the rise of women a threat or is it considered as progress? Upon such answers will hinge the fate of India. And such answers will determine if India will rise to glory or ride off into the sunset.

On December 16, 2012, the girl was repeatedly raped, beaten, and tortured for over an hour in a moving van with tinted windows, while passing through several police check points with total immunity, and eventually thrown out mercilessly like a dead carcass to sleep the eternal sleep of death. The horrific saga even stung the frozen conscience of Delhi’s Sheila Dixit and the stoned administration of the Capital.

The evil deed was so vile that even the Taliban seemed to look like angels. The very stones would have wept but the stooges of Satan were remorseless. As the girl fought for her life with multiple surgeries and lacerating intestines, people shook with fury and the simmering discontent of the crowds turned to boiling rage resulting in a tempest of protests all over the country. Spirited crowds in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Bombay, Calcutta, Lucknow, Gwalior, Pune and several cities howled for punishment and deterrent laws. Finally, death left the shadows of immortality and stalked the brave girl claiming her in Singapore. That ended a worthy life whose slow motion slaughter will be forever etched in the collective conscious of a stunned nation.

This is not the first time. In fact it is the 637th recorded case just in this year. The thorny path of the progressive woman is strewn with several epitaphs of horrific sexual violence. Recently, police pulled out the body of a 10-year-old girl who was gang-raped and murdered in Bihar’s Saharsa district. Another school girl raped by several men is in another hospital in Bihar fighting for her life. Very little has changed in the rape culture of India since Bhanwari Devi’s rape in 1992 or the turbulent rapes of the Bandit Queen. The Neanderthal man is alive and kicking and fighting with no holds barred the New Woman: cool, confident and living life on her own terms.

The veneer of modernity that society wears is as thin as the muslin that fashions its garments. Beneath, the suave hypocrisy is a centuries’ old entrenched hierarchy, feudalistic and repressive, that does not hesitate to put the woman in her place. With little remorse, self-righteous men would use their tools of eve-teasing, harass pub-going women, direct lynch mobs on lovers or love marriages, or encourage the complicit police and the apathetic politicians in ensuring that the woman is kept dependent, backward and helpless.

It is little wonder that the rapist begins his sordid story with justification that the victim must be punished for deviating from societal norms. In this particular case, the girl was raped because she was with a male friend.

Adding to the stirring sounds of the morality men, are the enlightened politicians whose wondrous speech can be traced to the medieval ghetto. Abhijit Mukherjee, a pearl among his peers, made the earth shaking discovery that it was the “painted and dented” women who were in the forefront of street demonstrations. The congress president of Andhra Pradesh, Botcha Satyaranya, added to the prevailing wisdom by dismissing the rape as a “small incident”, and contributing his bit to civilization by a trivial explanation, “Freedom at midnight does not mean women roaming on the streets during late hours.” Sadly, the sound bites of the politician is not about expressing outrage or ensuring tough laws or calls to protect women, but about unwanted advice regarding controlling the activities of women.

The low status of women in our society is the frozen monster that is responsible for the rape culture. From the portals of the fancy factories of Bollywood to the traditional bastions of the family, the script for women is set in concrete: she cannot visit discos, she cannot speak out, she cannot dress in a particularly attractive way, she cannot stay out late, and if she gets raped it is her fault. However, nothing is considered as wrong in a society where sons are worshipped and daughters are at the most tolerated, where daughters are killed in the wombs, or where dowry is demanded and given, where torture of the daughter-in-law is condoned, or where women are sold to the highest bidder to settle property issues. Moreover, the woman is taught not to get raped while the man receives no teaching regarding not to rape. A man is taught to be a good son, a good brother, a good friend, a good provider but never taught how to be a good husband. A woman’s happiness is at the bottom of a barrel where she can scrape as hard as she can to get certain bits of trash and claim it as her happiness.

Needless to say, in such a progressive environment, it will be a miracle if the Women’s reservation bill will ever get passed, if the modern women will be appreciated for her contributions to Science, Philosophy, technology or law, or will she be eulogized only for being a good mother and an obedient bahu.

Is the rise of women a threat or is it considered as progress? Upon such answers will hinge the fate of India. And such answers will determine if India will rise to glory or ride off into the sunset.

The sad death of the 23 year old victim is only the tip of the iceberg of a huge mass of solidified archaic thinking. Her death has flashed a light on the corroding social structure of a traditional society that is built on the subjugation of women. If society’s keepers heed the light the shine will reflect back on a modern society built on equality, justice and merit. Else it will go the way of the Taliban, the morality police and the dregs of civilization with a fast expiring date.


More by :  Aneeta Chakrabarty

Top | Opinion

Views: 3435      Comments: 4

Comment Aneeta
Agree with you. And in my opinion, unless we tackle this monster that you have rightly described, it will only continue to grow. The brutality and the cruelty that lies deep within every human being is often brought to the surface through licenses that someone grants - Hitler did it via the Nazi thought to unleash terror on Jews, Taliban did it via their notion of Islam on Afghanistan; and India is doing it to her women through sheer apathy.

I wrote on my blog recently that its a terrible time to be a woman in India today.As a woman, you should be scared. You can no longer be confident that you wont be the next victim, so pervasive is this problem in the country today. Rape, Dowry killing, honour killing, female infanticide. My worry is that the law of averages might just catch up with me.

Today, we are surrounded by men, a majority of who, look at growth of women as a threat not as progress. Of course, having a thinking woman is an end to their authority.The challenge ahead of us, as a society, is to actually raise the status of women in our culture without threatening the menfolk. And the only way I see it happening is through a combination of education (to one & all) and a meaningful inclusion of women in our workforce.

09-Jan-2013 06:09 AM

Comment The statistics for rape, given the population of India, around one billion, are no worse than the proverbial needle in a haystack: but the media blows it up to, one must concede as rightful, for the preciousness of a woman's life, gigantic proportions: the incident fills the TV screen with all the comprehensive drama of a soap opera, gripping the entire nation, nay, the entire world, whereby every Indian globally is stared at as kin to the rapists - barely controlled. The power of the media is to literally blow out of all proportions a relatively isolated incident. The proof is in the overwhelming numbers of decent people, including young men, protesting, also flooding the same TV screen with greater verisimilitude.

India, as brought out beautifully in his book India Calling by Anand Ghiridharadas is rapidly modernising along western lines of consumer based culture - where women today are enjoying more independence, achieving top positions in jobs requiring high academic qualifications, indeed, rearing children as much do single parent families in the west. Freedom generally in both sexes to live their own lives untied to family obligations is becoming the norm. Divorce is on the up, almost as a good sign. One is under no illusions that, in the main, women have not seen their status enhanced in modern Indian society.

The malaise of rape has much to do with opportunism in a milieu that has lost all religious values - of whatever religion - in a scientific age that has objectified all values. What shocks one is that so enclosed is the mentality of the rapist, with no fear in the absence of religiously induced consequences, that he actually loses sight of all consequences of his action as a crime - the future is voided in the compulsion of the moment. For that is what it is: an irresistable compulsion to grasp, as if in a moment of eternity into which he is swept up, the most intense sexual experience; once done, the bubble bursts, and he, or they, are back in time again to face the consequences of their actions, or at least to fear them.

07-Jan-2013 21:08 PM

Comment It is a very well written article, voicing the thoughts of a "modern Women" who wants to change the world but cannot even put a dent in the rotting carcass of Indian social structure. Aneeta, you have summarized all teh evils of the deteriorating Indian society. Women were held in higher esteem twenty /thirty years ago. Women can get modernized as long as they remain in societal limits and in the confines of the man's ideals.

Padmaja Vedartham
01-Jan-2013 21:22 PM

Comment Incredible.... motivational and presenting the bitter reality.
Its an awesome article. Commendable!

alka pandey
01-Jan-2013 13:18 PM

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