Delhi gang-rape: Shame for us, a cupcake for others
On the very first day of my last vacation in my hometown Shimla, an apprehensive mother of mine knocked off a discussion about the topic I try to avoid the most, even within the realms of my own mind – my future. For a woman who gets to see her daughter only twice a year; her view to get me to a closer city, where I could work or study or whatever I wanted to do was pretty much justified. And the obvious options she came up with were Chandigarh and Delhi. My one month stay, in the best planned city of India had given me no reason to consider it as a choice. The first memory the city evokes in me is that a man chasing me on his two-wheeler asking me to come with him, while I struggled to look for a means of transport to reach home after work. As far as Delhi was concerned, I didn’t even consider it a choice. I wasn’t up for being on alert mode every time I left my house or for that matter, every time I breathed. My mother gave me the best possible arguments to change my decision, however. This discussion happened almost every other day, and even on December 16.
The day when India found her daughter left naked on the road with her rapists trying to run her over by the bus they had taken out for a joyride. While all this was happening, many cars went pass not paying any heed to the wounded victim and her injured friend. The CNG drivers conveniently turned a blind eye to the situation and went with the flow of traffic. Who wants to deal with naked, red-trouble lying on the road, at least not at 11 O’clock in the night? How I wish that like the insensitive and inhuman late night drivers, many others would choose to say quiet over the entire issue and its aftermath.
With all respect to our Constitution which bestows every citizen with the Right to freedom of speech, I would still prefer Kailash Vijayvargiya shut his mouth and not threaten women to face Ravana if they cross the line of their ‘maryada’. Why can’t the Minister talk about Madhya Pradesh’s low Human Development Index for once? Or is the issue of women wearing duppattas or not is more important than why his state can’t get itself off the list of top five states with increasing number of farmer suicides? My views on him aside, the Minister happily got away with his chauvinist comments… yes he withdrew his comments only after blaming the media of manipulation and openly declaring that he doesn’t regret having said such a thing. But what did our Opposition leader and his parent party do all this while? Gave him some scolding maybe but never did they mention any action against him. BJP was the same party which demanded sacking of Abhijit Mukherjee, remember? By not taking him on, the BJP has given his sexist attitude a green signal. The one he got six months back also after blaming “provocatively dressed women for all deprivations in society,” hence the recent comments.
The political class, BJP, Congress and everyone else, has almost sanctioned such medieval thinking (and its dangerous expression in front of thousands of people). With BJP Spokesperson Shaina NC admitting on a national news channel that she agreed with Mohan Bhagwat when he said that “rapes happen in India and not in Bharat”, and Subramanian Swamy echoing the same line of thinking( on the same show) it seems like conservatives, nationalists have their stands consolidated. What? Condemnations? When did “condemning” the above mentioned stop others from teaching women what to do or not to do, that too in front of TV cameras? Had Manohar Lal Sharma, lawyer of one of the accused in the Delhi gang rape feared being condemned, he would have not raised questions on the deceased 23-year-old paramedical student’s conduct and honour. While political elites just “condemn” their party members as a part of damage control, men and sadly women with such attitudes chuckle and traditionalists smile or stand on a podium professing how “diplomacy” and chanting God’s name could save women from rape.
The ping pong of condemnations and withdrawals of statements has had other implications as well. As a leading newspaper reports, the membership of Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the right wing organisation, had seen a surge after the December 16 incident, as it pressed on going back to the “Indian culture”. While co-ed schools in Haryana have decided that girls should leave the campus premises before their male counterparts, and many Panchayats have restricted women from using cell phones or wearing western outfits, individuals like the self-styled godman Asaram and politician Botsa Satyanarayana have found supporters in many colours as they make merry.
The Delhi gang rape like every other rape in our country, reported or unreported, marital or premarital, AFSPA sheltered rape or a Hindu-Dalit rape scarred our country, angered many of us, scared many like me but it did do one good thing at least for some: it gave them a chance to make their stand stronger as their voice boomed with the “humne toh pehle hi kaha tha” (we warned you before) attitude.
As far as my mother is concerned, she never mentioned Delhi and me in the same sentence after December 16.
Priyanka Sharma is Features Editor, The Manipal Journal and a student of Manipal Institute of Communication.
The views expressed in the blog are personal.