May Her Death Change Indian Men

Vasant G. Gandhi
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Her death is known, but her name is unknown.  The name of a 23-year-old woman was unreleased when she died after six Indian males forcibly raped her. This barbaric act took place on a bus in the Indian capital of New Delhi, reportedly in the evening, after the victim and her male friend boarded a bus.  Following the deed, both were thrown off the bus, the rapists fled and she died from injuries a few days later.

The news suffused like wildfire.  The people in the city were aghast.  They marched and chanted, “Stop crimes against women” and “Death to the rapists.”  People elsewhere in India marched too.  From actors and actresses to zoo-keepers, they participated in candlelight vigils.  Her death has awakened India like no other tragedy in the past and reminds us once again that we have been committing crimes against our mothers, daughters, and sisters and are doing very little to protect them or punish the perpetrators. 

In India, it is common among idly standing or sitting men to harass passing women.  They stare at them lasciviously, whistle, tell dirty jokes, sing dirty songs, make dirty gestures or, at worst, brush against them.  On occasion, women have been assaulted, beaten, burned, molested, raped or killed.

Why do so many women frequently suffer at the hands of men in India – the home of a multitude of gods and goddesses – where so many men go to temples and pray before goddesses such as Amba, Durga, Kali, Laxmi, Parvati, Radha, Sita, and Sarasvati?  Why don’t they view women as pure souls as opposed to sex objects, not as debauchee as themselves?

Men and women in protest marches were visibly shaken and expressed sorrow as if the dead young woman were a part of their family.  This is what the Bhagavad Gita says in part in Verse 32 Chapter 6 about the spiritual union.  I wonder if the men who committed this heinous crime knew the verse or the grief their act would bring to her family as well as to the nation.

Perhaps, the abusers frequently watched Indian films and television serials, read filthy magazines, or surfed the Internet, all of which sell sex and offer an abundance of sensual scenes.  Could this have triggered their animal instincts?
I do not have the answers; however, I do hope that the young student’s death (and all the deaths and injuries before hers), faith in goddesses, verses in the Gita, and the self-imposed restrictions by the entertainment industry will bring about a drastic change in the behavior of Indian males, one that is long overdue.

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