If you are a man reading this, you would probably never get to know how many times the women in your life (your own mother, sister, wife, girl-friend or even just a friend) have been disgraced at various instances.. and If you are a woman, you must have often chosen silence over words, when you would have experienced an insult to your modesty. I, like many other hundreds and thousands of people, have also been outraged by what has happened to that girl who was gang-raped. I refuse to accept it as just another story. And why only her? When I first read the news of a rape in Hindustan Times in the newspaper’s specially devoted column, ‘This city is not safe for women’, I was still a teenager, and I kept on asking myself why would something of this sort would happen at the first place.
Today, after ten years, fortunately or rather unfortunately, I have found some answers… I started commuting in Delhi buses when I joined a college in Vasant Kunj. My brother, always, worried, accompanied me to college several times but of course that could not have continued forever, and not always could I find companions to commute with me… Men often sat next to girls and women, including me, and were often reminded to behave themselves. This is not a memory that I can recall, but it still happens around me each time I commute. Initially, I often ignored the misbehaviour, but gradually realized that it was better to ‘make noise, embarrass them and give them a piece of mind’, so that the miscreants would think at least once when they do it the next time. Often, these people think that the girl would stay quiet and that is where they are encouraged. My first lesson was learnt. Never let these eve-teasers go away with their momentary pleasures!
But speaking up is always not the easiest option, especially, when the victim is young. So many friends of mine, who I know for years, have recently confided to me now how they have also come across such situations, not only in Delhi buses, but with their relatives, neighbours, teachers, street lechers, when they were young, when their sisters were young. Since we never talk about such things openly in our families and often the mothers of the girls ‘train’ them to be tolerant to all this, we tend to oversee how these things will later become a bigger problem not only for us but for society at large.
A mother never gives birth to a rapist, just like a terrorist is not born. Probably, this is how it goes–A man is probably never discouraged to be violent at home, he then becomes an eve-teaser on roads, then molests a child or a girl or woman at the first chance he gets; and when he has perfected all of the aforementioned skills, he finally tries his hands at raping, which is in a politician’s language- A DASTARDLY ACT OF VIOLENCE. When things go out of hand and translate into such inhuman acts, we try to figure out various reasons, including the failure of law and order, psychological disorders in the rapists, and what not! However, are you absolutely sure that in your own capacity, you have in no way contributed to this menace that the society is facing? Don’t we let our imagination work over-time when we come across a news or somebody’s experiences like this? Talking of this very instance of gang-rape, I have received so many forwarded messages mentioning that rods were inserted into the gang-rape victim’s vagina, her uterus was thrown out of the bus and what not! If I myself, ever choose to confide my own experiences to friends and family, they first convince me to dismiss it as just another everyday instance, and would then probably like me to oblige them with details, of what exactly the lechers did, where did they ‘touch’, so that they can judge whether my reaction is justified or not! I just cannot imagine what a rape victim would have to go through! More often, than not, girls are also lectured on how prevention is better than cure, and how they can prevent these instances at their own end in various ways. But putting together all the case studies from the past, a ‘sensible’ and a ‘rational’ person has to agree that such a ‘dastardly act of violence’ is quite difficult to be prevented by somebody who will be at the receiving end.
And then we have to head to India Gate or Jantar March, but sadly these protests, though showing a kind of awakening among people, cannot be solely trusted upon to change the ground realities. Dear society, my only appeal to you is that, for once, let us NOT consider rape as an act of having sex, wanted or unwanted, it is an act of violence and so is molestation. Also, let us not consider a rape to be an act of violence to only the victim. If a murder happens in your neighbourhood, it does send shivers down your spine because you fear for your own safety, but a rape probably does not evoke similar reaction, because we consider it to be an individual’s plight. Getting angry is a good thing! Feeling helpless is also good if you have finally become aware that there are challenges around to be addressed. But if this noise again dies down without bringing any meaningful results, it would be another let-down to our country. The most important takeaway that we should remember from this episode, if at all, we think it has woken up from our procrastination, should be to reduce our tolerance to any sort of unreasonable behaviour directed to us, or any woman we know or do not know. Empathy, more than excitement, would help!