The Government is talking about an amendment to the law – in the rarest of rare cases of rape and violence against women death penalty will be awarded. So now the Delhi case is being seen as a one-off incident? Don’t make me laugh! What is truly ironic is this – less than a week since the Delhi gang rape incident a woman was gang raped and beaten in full public view by 7 men in Tripura, Assam! Let me highlight the points here – GANG RAPED, BEATEN, FULL PUBLIC VIEW!
Full Public View!! The nameless, faceless general public made up of people like you and me. And what about the public you may ask? What were they doing while the woman was being raped? Unfortunately this is not the first time this has happened. Newspapers and TV channels have time and time again highlighted various cases where women have been raped or molested or attacked in front of the general public – people like you and me. What is going on in the heads and hearts of the ‘public’ as they watch a woman being disrobed and her body assaulted and her rights trampled on, or when they watch a woman or her male friend being pushed around and being kicked and beaten up? Are we thinking – ‘Thank God that is not me!’ ‘Thank God that is not my daughter or son.’ Or are we thinking – ‘I better not get involved or they may turn their attention on me.’ Or are we hoping ‘Someone else will do something.’
We are not the offspring of cowards! We are descendants of men and women who have showcased the greatest kind of bravery there is. People like Rani Lakshmibai, Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi and Chatrapati Shivaji! We are the descendants of the Pandyas and Cholas, Ashoka and Akbar. We are better than those rapists and we are sure as hell not cowardly bystanders! Then why do we cower in fear and shame?
I know there are various inter-related elements at play here – women’s right, the sense of entitlement with which many boys are reared by their doting parents, the outrage felt by men who feel insecure in the face of female empowerment, safety, tolerance, a corrupt and a demoralized law and order, and a turtle paced legal system. But the truth is this. A few millennia since the disrobing of Draupadi, women still continue to be treated as pawns in a game. But this is the Kaliyug. There is no Krishna handing out yards of magically woven protection to the women of today. The only magical mantle that the women, and the brave men who stand up for them, have today is the mantle of an aware public. A public that will not stand by and watch. A public that will refuse to be apathetic and say – ‘Thank God it is not me, but it could be me or my daughter that is victimized next. It is time to put a stop to this now.’