This, I am sure, is going to be a controversial post. The language is rather rough too. But please understand that I am only thinking aloud and some of the points mentioned here may be worth considering.
The recent gang rape in Delhi is shocking. But it is not surprising. In Kerala, Asianet News TV Channel is currently presenting a news series titled “Makalanu, marakkaruthu” (It is daughter, don’t forget). Almost everyday, there are reports of minor girls being sexually used. The culprits include father, brother, grandfather, uncles and so on. Some of the instances are with the mother’s consent. The victims include even four year old. Sadly, this disgusting situation has not received National attention.
You can blame the police, blame the government, and politicize the issue. But basically, this is a failure of the society. The matter deserves serious thought. Has the hypocritical Puritanism in this country of Kajuraho and sambandham (in Kerala the Nampoothiris used to have a wife at home and relations with Nair women in the area) made things worse?. Have our strong censorship policies led to a sort of sexual frustration in some men?
Let us take the story about a movie which had a scene of a pond near a railway track. A woman is undressing for bathing. At the critical moment a train streams past cutting off the view. The response of a man watching the movie repeatedly was that one day the train would be late. This of course is a joke but there might be a point in it to think about.
In several countries XXX rated films are openly shown in theatres and on TV. One might find “The Bible” and “Deep Throat” running in adjoining cinema houses. Senior Citizens get a 50% discount on tickets for the erotic cinema. In India such movies are watched secretly. At least we have progressed from the days when the actresses had to wear body hoses which actually added vulgarity to certain scenes.
Till a few decades back, sanitary napkins were hush-hush matter. Today the ads about them are all over the place. Probably the openness about such matters started with propagation of birth control measures. Nirodh and the loop became well-known. Then the ads about brassieres and men’s underclothes started. Now women’s panties are displayed with provocative pictures. Have these done any harm? Nobody seems to care or make an issue of it.
There are sexual stimuli all around. It is something that we cannot stop. On a beach in the West, hardly anyone really bothers about the scantily clad women around. But in India people cram to watch a foreign lady in a swim suit. A modest Indian woman might take a dip in the sea fully dressed in her churidar and come out with her wet clothes revealing much more than what a bikini would. Of course people ogle.
It is said that the women of Mumbai are safer because of Kamathripura, the city’s Red Light District. May be true. Are licensed sex workers the answer? At least such arrangement could retard the spread of VD and HIV.
There is a great deal of talk going on about the punishment for rape. Capital punishment is one demand. Some suggest life sentence. The government is committed to increase the quantum of punishment. Is it to be the same punishment for raping a grown up and a minor? In Kerala, a father has been recently sentenced to life imprisonment for forcing minor daughter to sex activities.
Perhaps another line of punishment should be thought of, say, medical interference. Castrate the culprit, make his equipment sexually useless. Medieval justice? Lynching or hanging till death is also primitive. If lobotomy or prefrontal leucotomy (a surgical intervention on the brain in mental patients) is legal, handling a rape offender in this manner can be justified.
Needless to say, the ladies should take a great deal of care to avoid danger. I suppose that every girl instinctively knows the difference in a touch or a look when a man is sexually interested. The mothers also would be giving the daughters appropriate advice on safeguarding themselves. Learning some self defense techniques and carrying pepper spray in the hand bag could be of help.
Of course there is not much that a woman can do in a gang rape attack. But in the Delhi incident the unfortunate girl and her relative boarded the bus thinking that it was a White Line public service. If they had realized that it was a school vehicle the tragedy could have been avoided. Alertness is essential.
Everyone feels very deeply for the tragic victim and prays that such incidents do not happen again. The government and the public have the responsibility of preventing these crimes.