People gather at the Mango tree where victims of Badaun Rape case were found hanging at Katra Sadatganj village on June 3, 2014 in Badaun, India. Two teenage girls belonging to Dalit community were raped and hanged from the village mango tree in last week by five men when they had gone to relieve themselves in the field. The case raised the many questions about the deteriorating situation of caste and gender violence as well as general lawlessness with each passing day on current Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh.
God! I hate this! Every time there is any political enmity, we see a spate of rape cases. Please don’t shake your head and say that I’m talking nonsense. I believe that I’m not.
This is not something that has happened recently. It was true even during the times of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Ravana had a bone to pick with his elder brother Kuber. He wanted to show that he was stronger and mightier than Kuber. He wanted Kuber's Lanka and Viman (aircraft) for himself and challenged Kuber to a fight. Their father Vishrava advised Kuber to keep calm and give in to Ravana's wishes. Kuber gave away both his possessions to Ravana. But Ravana was still seething with a desire to put down Kuber.
Once, on his trip to the Himalayas, Ravana came across a beautiful maiden and wanted to make her his. This maiden was none other than Vedavati, the daughter-in-law-to-be of Kuber. Even though the maiden pleaded to Ravana and told him that she was as good as a daughter to Ravana (‘bahu’ in Hindi), Ravana wanted to ravish her against her will. Vedavati cursed Ravana that the moment he would touch a lady against her will, he would turn to ashes. She gave up her life, since she had been touched by a person against her will. This very Vedavati is believed to have reincarnated as Sita. Why was Ravana so insistent on forcing himself on Vedavati? I believe that it was because he wanted to shame Kuber.
In the Mahabharata we see this shameful event repeating itself time and again, with Draupadi. First, her brothers-in-law, the Kauravas, try to disrobe her in front of all the elders. This was done with the sole intention of shaming the Pandavas. During the days of exile, Draupadi’s brother-in-law Jayadrath (Dushala’s husband) too tries to ravish her, again trying to show that he is manlier than her husbands. Here too the woman is used as a pawn to dishonor the men who are fighting for power. In the power struggle, the woman is the puppet who is vandalized.
One would have thought that after learning lessons from the Scriptures that shaming a woman unjustly would only bring about destruction, men folk would learn something. No, absolutely not! We see history repeating itself again and again. Our Islamic invaders too used the same ruse to shame us into submission and conversion. Our women were raped and pillaged till the people fell on their knees asking for mercy. But they too did not last; only those who learnt to finally give respect to the women lasted as rulers for a long time. The rest only earned the title of ‘barbarians’. Here one must salute the brave Rajputs whose women folk gave up their lives (Jauhar) and refused to bow down.
In modern times we see this happening all over again. I’m sure my readers are wondering how I am linking the horrific crime of rape to a power struggle. But dear friends, do look into the spate of rape cases all over the country. When the Nirbhaya episode took place, did anybody notice that a power struggle was going on between the then Delhi Government and its successors? Suddenly there was a spate of such cases, reported and otherwise, in and around Delhi. While I cannot say with evidence that these power struggles took place between the then Chief Minister within her party (her son was trying to gain importance then) or between the ruling party and its political opponents. But soon thereafter we saw the rise of a new leadership, a new party and an election fought over with safety of women as one of the main issues. Soon after, we came across a spate of rape cases in West Bengal. It was so uncanny! Mamta Banerjee, the Chief Minister of that state was constantly giving sound bytes (many of them crassly) about the rapes and how they were false cases just aimed at ruining her popularity.
Now suddenly we are seeing a spate of rape cases in Uttar Pradesh. While this state has always been in the news for crimes against women, and the Chief Minister and other politicians here give the worst statements about women and in support of the rapists (“Ladkon se galti ho jati hai” types), the sudden spate in reported rapes here does make one suspicious. How is it that states seem to take turns in becoming rape capitals of the country? It cannot be that suddenly the men in any one particular state have decided to become so lusty and ravish women. Also, why should rapes be classified as women belonging to a particular community (unless it is caste based revenge)? And to have people from the security agencies involved in such a shameful crime definitely raises more suspicions.
Why should women and young innocent girls become pawns in the hands of such politicians? Why should the safety and dignity of women be compromised in the power struggle of corrupt rulers? Can we as educated citizens of this country not get together and protest this form of power struggle? Why should the dignity of ordinary citizens be compromised to show that a particular ruler (read ‘politician’) is ineffective? Should political parties not clean up their act and fight for our respect through REFORMS? Instead of proving that the current government is ineffective, the politicians who want to come to power should put their energies in actually working for to uplift the masses, to protect their dignity. Let them come forward and help these victims and their families and work towards having a safe neighborhood.
It pains when I have to hear again and again that Indian men do not respect women even though they worship the Divine Mother. It pains when I see India’s name on the list of countries where women are raped the most. It pains when I see India referred to as the country where crimes on women are increasing. I do not believe that the common man of India is rape crazy. I agree that many men still have to be sensitized to respecting women more, I agree that they give obscene glances at women, pass lewd comments and all that; I also agree that they have to respect the woman’s freedom to make a choice which matters to her. The Indian man has to be taught right from school, to get rid of customs and traditions (dowry system, for example) which make him feel superior to the women and that female feticide has to be eradicated completely. But before all this, the powers-to-be have to stop using women as pawns in their power struggle.
Image (c) gettyimages.com