After the last year ended with the shock of Nirbhaya’s tragic end, everyone was hoping that things would be better in 2013. Sadly, the first two weeks of the New Year are loaded with a shocking array of crimes against women and children and absurd statements by people in important positions.
We have the habit of getting focused on just one point when a tragedy occurs. Now of course, it is crime against women. Blame the government, blame the police, and blame the judicial process. Make a lot of noise. Bring in Bharat, India, Sita, Ravana, Lakshmanarekha. Blame the female for getting raped.
Go back to women being confined to the home, to cook and attend to other household chores. Of course, shayanesu veshya which was considered to be an important quality of a wife has not been openly mentioned.
To find a meaningful solution, a problem has to be first understood and then analyzed in its totality. Recently two emails came requesting me to sign mass petitions to the President, CJI and the Justice Verma Committee about sexual crimes. Many of you too would have received the same.
Now, the question is whether these institutions would give importance to the number of signatures on the appeal or its contents. Perhaps a more effective action would be for each citizen to write to his/her Member of Parliament giving suggestions. I am sure that at least some of them would effectively take up the matter with Justice Verma Committee and other appropriate authorities.
The dilemma we are facing today is not just crimes against women. One is raping a woman by boys or men. Then there is sexual abuse of girls and sodomy on boys by senior men. Perhaps there is forced lesbianism as well. Women raping boys is not very rare. Incest and sex sale (a broad term which covers a lot of sins) are reported too. An equally unacceptable criminality is the tormenting of senior citizens by younger people sexually or otherwise.
Newspapers of the first two weeks of 2013 carry reports of almost all these crimes. The latest is from Punjab where a woman was reportedly gang-raped by seven men in a bus. A shocking situation indeed. How do we find a solution?
I do believe that the society has equal responsibility as the government to take effective steps. India or Bharat is a country which does not want the girl child. Sambandam which I mentioned in Rape & Punishment is no longer there, but we still allow chinnaveedu (a different house with a second wife or keeping a mistress) and certain sexual forays by men.
Today’s Deepika carried a statement by Dr. Sunitha Krishnan. She says that we teach girls from childhood to forgive everything. The girl child is always in the background. Unless this is changed a female cannot live fearlessly.
About Dr. Sunitha Krishnan - At the age of 15 she was gang raped by eight men. She fought back to life and went on to take a Doctorate in Social Work. (I am proud that she studied at my alma mater, St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore.) She runs Prajwala. The institution helps women who have been trafficked and also finances education of thousands of AIDS infected children. Her work has been internationally acclaimed. It is touching to read Sunitha's blogspot. Incidentally, Sunitha is Bangalore born in 1972. Her parents are from Palghat, Kerala.
All of us cannot be such a remarkable person. But in our own small ways we can try to bring about a social change. A boy and girl talking or walking together does not mean that they are about to have sex. A reasonable freedom can only improve things.
Let us make a beginning in each home. Let us spread the message that a girl child is as much lovable as a male offspring. Let our schools teach the children, and public programmes educate the adults the importance of respecting women and elders. The government has the responsibility to enact appropriate laws and ensure effective policing and other safeguards.