Raping the Nation’s Conscience

As the year 2012 comes to an end and the arrival of the so called ‘doomsday’ postponed, our beloved nation has been rocked by a horrible and shocking incidence of gang rape of a 23 – year young Para medical student in a moving bus  at the heart of the national capital, New Delhi. The whole nation is outraged and asking for the blood of all the accused who brutally robbed that very girl off her dignity. As I write this piece, she is still battling for her life at Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital.

No matter how much we boast about our country and culture coming of age and to have gone places to become a modern and civilized one ,the reality is, our society is still very much patriarchal where a female or ‘the weaker sex’ is regarded as ‘something’ which is always at the mercy of a man. Eve teasing is an Indian norm.

After this horrible incident, the whole nation seems to be unanimous in its demand for stringent punishments against the culprits; some asking for the cutting down of their genitals and some are of the view that they must be hanged. Indeed, strict punishments must be given to the ones who committed such an inhuman crime (crimes are always inhuman and brutal), and they must not be spared. There must be a lesson established which can be a lesson for many. But the question which arises is that why we, the Indians always fail to condemn the crimes which are not affecting us directly or we may say about which we are not at all concerned, just because of the biases which we have kept inside us and that too, intentionally.

Was another rape in Delhi required to wake us up from deep sleep and start shouting about justice in favor of the victim(s) and punishment for the culprit(s)? Were the previous rapes (in Ahmedabad, Kashmir and North East and many other places) not enough to make us shed our bias and prejudice which we have proudly been keeping in our heart? Were the rapes of 2002 in Ahmedabad not enough to make us think, speak and protest against the violence against women? Were the rapes of two women in Shopian not enough to make us raise our voice against such inhumanity against the women? Did we forget the rapes which have been committed by our own security forces in Kashmir and the North East for the sake of our ‘security’, and in the name of fighting terror? Does our security need a woman to be raped and the rapists, go scot free without being made to pay for their crimes?

Since the rape of that girl in Delhi, I have seen at least twelve rape related stories, many of them gang rapes from various corners of the country. The number may be high. The same day when that girl was battling for her life, the state of Gandhi, Gujarat came up with its election results in which the incumbent Chief Minister, Narendra Modi got a thumping victory, despite having ample amount of proofs against his administration’s direct role in many rapes on the streets of Ahmedabad during the 2002 post-Godhra riots. The abdomens of many pregnant women were ripped apart by the marauding mob which certainly had state patronage and support. After those horrific riots, voices have been raised from many quarters advising the riot victims to forget about what happened with them and move forward.

The newspapers in Delhi carried headlines that, the 23 year old Delhi gang rape victim wants the culprits who made her life hell to be punished. Can we ask her to forget everything and move forward? Certainly not, then why everyone keeps on lecturing the Gujarat riot victims to forget everything and move forward and accept the CM of Gandhi’s state as a so called ”world class” administrator? Being a good administrator doesn’t value a penny when a large chunk of people are still afraid of speaking up what is in their mind. Rhetorics and glorifying one’s past deeds can make one win an election but it needs a lot to win someone’s heart and on that front, the so called ‘ Hriday Samrat (King of the hearts)’ has been a complete failure. Many of the state sponsored riot’s victims are the ones who were raped in full public view on the streets of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. No matter how famous Modi is in the highly communalized society of Gujarat, he was, is and will remain a person who let Gujarat burn in the fire of communal hatred.

The Delhi gang rape’s, as well as the other mass rape victims need justice at the earliest. Our so called nationalism, patriotic and communal feelings should and must not make us blind towards the sufferings of others selectively. We must hang our heads in shame without being selective and biased, no matter whether these brutal crimes happen anywhere, be it on the streets of Delhi or Kashmir Valley (committed by our own security forces), or in Manipur (by using draconian laws like AFSPA), or on the streets of Ahmedabad under the watching eyes of a so called ‘democratically elected’ Chief Minister.

The women in our society need to be assured that they have the right to “live happily and equally”, and not just to “exist” under the shadow of oppression and crimes of this patriarchal society.

Syed used to work with the Hindustan Times, Delhi till 2010 December and then he took a sabbatical for academic purposes which continues till date. Currently pursuing his masters in Peace and conflict studies with Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, Syed has studied journalism from Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi.

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