Satyamev Jayate is back. I find it difficult to contain my expectations. Last season was fabulous- sincere, honest, touching! Let’s see, what happens now. There are some grey of this show as well. There are times when you feel that enough is enough or it’s too much to bear. The show takes our sensibilities to the brim. But then you realize that things that you don’t even feel like watching actually happen to innocent people. If the show is able to awaken even a single soul, it’s worth it. Many Indians are craving today for a new India. The spirit of India is changing. Everybody wants to be the new Indian.
The episode on 2nd March ’14 was on rape. The episode unfolded on carefully planned lines. It began with reference to Nirbhaya; our symbol of our conscience vis-à-vis torture of girls in this country. The torturers of Nirbhaya subconsciously relied on the lame duck system of India. The rapists know that they’d be let off. Nirbhaya became the breath of the country. The youth rejected silence. ‘Stop torturing the girls’, the placards read. Police lathi charge, water cannons – the protestors bore it all. Our Nirbhaya died but she rekindled our hearts.
But has anything changed at the ground level? Perhaps no. What we need is zero tolerance for crimes against women. Aamir cited many examples. An eighteen year old in Delhi was returning from her office. She was abducted in a car. Her dead body was found in a mutilated, brutalized form after four days. A village girl was returning from college in northern India in the afternoon. She did not reach home. Her body was found the next day in a very horrible state. In a big city, a woman could not come back home from office; only her body was found later. A girl’s tongue was severed so that she could not report the crime; another girl was shot in front of a court. Human females of all ages- some months old to octogenarians – have suffered unspeakable horrors. This is how our country stands today in the twenty first century. In fact, realities boost the criminal mindset.
Rape cases are not reported. If reported, conviction rate is ridiculously low. Rapists find themselves in a better position that the victims. Parents of a dead girl came on the show whose daughter was raped and re-raped for fighting it out. After her third rape, the rapists killed her. The parents continue in the courts.
The attitude of the police is particularly pathetic. There are instances where the victim is unlawfully detained by the police, they are pressurized to take back their complaint, their statements are changed, compromises with the perpetrators of the crime are suggested and many times they are mentally raped at the police station. The victim is jeered. No sensitivity whatsoever is shown. Shamina Shafiq, a member of National Commission for Women cleared that FIR is mandatory; the police by law cannot deny registering FIR. But who cares?
One would imagine that in such a grim scenario, at least doctors being doctors would be humanly. But for viewers like me who did not know anything about the brutalities of the so called medical examination, the show really came as a shocker. If hands of the victim are tied, there’d be no marks on her private parts. If she’s been subjected to unnatural methods, again there’d be no evidence on her private parts. Even doctors scare the victims and try to bring them to some compromise. Doctors don’t want the trouble of going to court etc. They want to keep away from all the mess. Sometimes, the senior doctor would demonstrate it to his juniors as to how to examine a rape victim and then the juniors would repeat the process with victim. There’s huge class bias even here. Poor women get a very bad deal. Dr. Sangeeta Rege and Dr. Nikhil Datar underlined the need for a standardized procedure.
The third part of the system, the judiciary is proverbially tragic in our country. A university lecturer narrated her story. She said that she had been foolish to believe in the judicial system. For twenty one long years, her case is still pending in the sessions court. The criminal has led a normal life, has enjoyed the full span of his youth while the victim’s life is entangled in the never ending web of judiciary. There are all kinds of loopholes in the system. The criminals have an upper edge. The judicial system breaks the will of the victim to fight for justice. The system wants her to live like a dead object. The judges have been reported to instruct the victim to replay the rape scene. It was all too gory to be repeated.
Prof. Rooprekha Verma of Lucknow University made a serious point. When a student of 5th standard fails to appear in an examination, s/he loses the year. But when criminals don’t appear in the court, there’s no remedy. The accused laugh at the victim in the court. Even a copy of the original FIR is not given to the victim. Instead of forgetting and moving forward in life, the system compels the victim to live and relive the trauma. The color of the rapist’s shirt, time, place, small details- she has to keep repeating everything. Sometimes, her raped clothes, undergarments, shoes etc are exhibited in the court. Prof. Verma said that many times the victim feels that recourse to criminal, violent means to get justice would have been better.
Justice Usha Mehra suggested one stop center for rape victims. There are such centers in many countries. Medical help, police help, forensic facilities and all evidence collection can be provided at one center. If criminal know that they cannot escape law, they’ll not commit the crime.
Our society is patriarchal. The mindset is such that the there is victimization of the victim. The victim is held responsible for the crime committed against her. Research shows rape has nothing to do with the age of the victim; it has nothing to do with her clothes; and it has nothing to do with big or small places. Rape is not about the sexual urge; it’s about power. In the mind of the criminal, it’s about showing the woman her correct place.
Suzette from Kolkata and Urmila from Madhya Pradesh- two brave women came to the show to show how atrocities are to be fought with perseverance and will power. Aamir’s closing remarks were appropriate that one percent of criminals have succeeded in scaring ninety nine percent of the population. We have learnt to live with the fear. Un-fearing our minds is our biggest challenge.