Spare Us, you Goons!

A helpless young girl was brutally gang raped in a moving bus and both she & her male counterpart were thrown out naked onto the street…The passers by watch the scene and do nothing…The Police who arrive argue for many precious minutes about which should be the jurisdiction of the crime…The heavily bleeding naked girl was even given a sheet of cover after the equally naked male escort begged for it…The brave girl after considerable fight, died in a prestigious hospital at Singapore… (Other rape reports and sexual exploitation are coming in from various parts of India.) I don’t need to write about the horrific details of the incident (the media is full of that in all its gory details) and how the youth of the nation, both male and female, rallied around seeking justice with even the edifices of power trembling at the cataclysm at what could have a telling effect on them and their echelons of power.

Having said this, I am ashamed and to a great extent shocked at the reaction of people with regard to this tragically horrific case, especially from people from the political tribe. Today a self proclaimed god man has also joined the bandwagon.

To quote William Shakespeare, these were the most unkindest cut of all. Just listen to these insensitive wisecracks… and believe you me, all of them are honourable people. My apologies to Mark Antony and his famous speech.

Abhijit Mukherjee, son of India’s First Citizen & President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, speaking to a Bengali-language television channel, said that “highly dented-painted” women visited discotheques and then appeared at India Gate to protest the Delhi bus gang rape. And Abhijit Mukherjee is an honourable man.

CPI-M leader Anisur Rahman, who considers Mamta Bannerjee as his arch rival, while ridiculing the latter’s decision to pay compensation to women who are victims of crimes like rape and trafficking. “We have been told by the chief minister in the assembly that the government will pay money to compensate rape victims. What is your fee? If you are raped, what will be your fee?,” asked Anisur, seemingly of Mamta Didi. And Anisur Rehman is an honourable man.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat claimed that the incidents of rape were the result of adoption of western culture in society as a whole and that erosion of traditional Indian values were more pronounced in urban areas. “Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. It is a dangerous trend. But such crimes won’t happen in Bharat or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gang rape or sex crimes,” he had said. “Where ‘Bharat’ becomes ‘India’ with the influence of western culture, these type of incidents happen. The actual Indian values and culture should be established at every stratum of society where women are treated as ‘mother’,” Bhagwat added. The one visible western practice that the RSS has imbibed is perhaps wearing of the shorts, or is it Indian too? Or are there more?? And Mohan Bhagwat is an honourable man.

When asked to comment on recent sexual harassment cases in the country, with Madhya Pradesh in particular, BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said: “Whenever people cross their limitations, deterioration is bound to happen. It applies to everyone in the society. Whoever breaches the line, he/she will confront a Ravan.” And Kailash Vijayvargiya is an honourable man.

Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee President Botsa Satyanarayana termed the Delhi gangrape incident a minor one and questioned the need for women to be out at midnight. He later withdrew his statement. “Just because India got freedom at midnight, is it necessary for women to move on the streets at midnight?” he asked. What brilliant logic, isn’t it? And Botsa Satyanarayana is an honourable man.

If we thought that only men can make chauvinistic remarks, hold on. Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, a Senior Trinamool Congress leader, speaking to a news channel said, “If you’re referring to the Park Street rape, see that is a different case altogether. That was not at all a rape case. It was a misunderstanding between the two parties involved between a lady and her client. This was not a rape.” She made this comment while reacting to another obscene comment made by senior CPI(M) leader Anisur Rehman on chief minister Mamata Banerjee. And Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar is an honourable woman.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad blamed the ‘western model’ of lifestyle for growing incidents of sexual assault on women including rape, saying cities were losing the values. VHP international advisor Ashok Singhal termed as “alarming” the western model of living, which he said had been imbibed from the US. And Ashok Singhal is an honorable man.

Brainwaves. Wear overcoats. Travel in girls’ only buses where women conductors will only be appointed. “The meeting resolved to introduce overcoats for girl students, operate special buses for them and ban mobile phones in schools. Our government is committed to ensuring safety of women, particularly girl students,” said school education minister T Thiagarajan, of the tiny state of Pondicherry. And T Thiagarajan is no doubt an honourable man.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray blamed “Bihari” migrants for rapes. “All are talking about the Delhi gang rape, but nobody is asking from where these men came. No one is asking who did this. So many cases are slapped against me (for speaking against Biharis) but no one is talking about the fact that all these rapists are from Bihar,” he said, addressing a public function in suburban Goregaon on Saturday. And Raj Thackeray is truly an honourable man.

Asaram Bapu, the self proclaimed god man said, “Only five to six people are not the culprits. The victim is as guilty as her rapists. She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop. This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don’t think so.” I wonder in which world of reality is this so called spiritual man who courts controversy lives in! Does he even perceive the meaning of what he has said. No doubt, Asaram Bapu too is an honourable man.

What is visible through all these insensitive wisecracks?
We get to see the absolutely patriarchal and patronizing outlook of many.
They are all out of touch with what we, common lay people, feel and experience.
Male chauvinism at its very best.
Inability to accept the power that women have started yielding, with many of them being bread winners and focussed professionals.
They are all people with medieval mind sets and want to gain mileage – even at the cost of being notorious for courting controversies.
Each one has only his / her political point of view and nothing else. You and me don’t mean anything to them except votes – and that is needed only every fifth year.

So what we need most of all is a massive mind set makeover for both men and women. And I hope those of us who are wriggling with discomfiture at these utterances will remember what each one has said at the Battle of the Hustings. We don’t need such illogical, irrational and misogynistic people to lead us to help build our nation for the 21st century.  Not for the sake of our coming generations. We have the power to bring them down. Let us affirm to use it.

Spare us, Goons. Be a little kind. Compassionate. Sympathetic. Empathetic. Being a human being, is it too much to ask? And don’t you open your bloody mouth if you can and make absolute foot in mouth statements. We will at least have some respite.

To women, I just want to say this. We have treated this kind of male domination and patriarchy for too long. Like Rip Van Winkle we are in a deep state of slumber. For our sake, and our children’s sake let us wake up. So that, our girls will be strong and brook no nonsense. And our boys will learn to respect women. Therein lies the whiff of fresh breath, of freedom, that our nation really needs.

To all these who want to have dikats to talibanize women I would like to share these few lines that have gone viral in social media:

“Men should be offended when someone claims that women should prevent rape by NOT WEARING certain things;
or NOT GOING certain places;
or NOT ACTING in a certain way.

That line of thinking presumes that you are incapable of control.
That you are so base and uncivilized that it takes extraordinary effort for you to walk down the street without RAPING someone.
That you require a certain dress code be maintained, that certain behaviours be employed so that may be today, JUST MAY BE, you won’t RAPE someone.

It presumes that your natural state is Rapist.”

P.S: I have many men friends and relatives who have squirmed and were / are very concerned at the verbal diarrhoea that the high and the mighty have indulged in, leaving in shreds, sensitivity as a lost virtue. So when I write this it is not against all males; but am afraid, their numbers of those in my side of the fence are few. Them, I salute!

Anamika: The Nameless One

When the nation was outraged at the horrific gang rape, I sat numb with shock. I did not want to even watch television news – I knew the gory details will be splashed all over and haunt me in a long time to come. The inputs I got was from an occasional media report I read – and I was not sure if I should believe that. Most of the Indian media sucks… they dramatize issues and then push them into oblivion; they make a furore and never follow up; there is paid news and partisan news. So where will I get authentic information from?

Am sure the incident made the World to sit up and watch the horror tragedy that unfolded – thanks to the hooligans. And what a sullied image for a land that was at some time in the distant past considered the Deva Bhumi, Land of Gods! Recently (on 10th December) I listened to a video conference where the key speaker referred to India as a land of rapists. I was livid. Within a week’s time we proved ourselves that we were!!

I am not going to write about the rape and rave against it. Enough has been done already by the media – both the print and the visual. My thoughts at this time are just about the hapless 23 year old physiotherapist who bore the monstrous atrocity. The Press calls her AMANAT meaning The Precious one. I will call her ANAMIKA. The Nameless one. For it was her, on that fateful day. Today / Tomorrow it could be we or our mothers, sisters or daughters.

I am amazed at the love for life in this young girl. She has been abused most heinously; yet she is spunky enough to put up a brave fight with Lord Yama (the God of Death according to Hindu Mythology). And it looks as if she would be successful in her efforts. As I write this I understand that she is taken off the ventilator. May God bless her and keep her safe.

I wonder what life after will it be for her, once she recoups. For this is a country where rape is a word synonymous with stigma and ostracism; where rape victims are treated as if they invited the rape; where insitutions need proof to establish that the rape has happened to punish the guilty; where nobody spares them – neither the law and order institutions like the police and judiciary nor even the society. I see that the youth is solidly behind her – going by the visuals at the Raisina Hills and Parliament street today. That is so very heart warming. Thanks to the cyber initiatives that have woken up the average Indian from slumber and sent strong messages to the authorities in power.

However future holds some issues for this young girl: What physical challenges will she have to face? Intestinal transplant (sourced from a brain dead person or from a living donor) which is still in an experimental stage seems to be an option as doctors have removed her intestines to ward off gangrenes and subsequent threat to her life. That she is also showing early symptoms of Sepsis (Blood infection) is a dampener, however.

More than the physical aspects, what about the mental and spiritual aspects? Will she be able to walk around free without stares and jeers?

Will she be able to distance herself from the constant reminders that her private and personal space has been inhumanly violated?

Will she be able to lead a normal life? I guess she might also need countless sessions of counselling to put back the traumatic experience. Only time can tell.

The Shift has happened. December 21 has sure shifted the collective Indian conscience. Is this the beginning of the Indian Spring? Or is it the beginning of India’s very own Jasmine Revolution? Whatever it is, authorities better remember the collective power of the masses. If not, like today, they can only flex muscles and suppress; but won’t that give rise to many more uprisings which will be too hot to handle? It’s worth watching as to how things will shape up. Or have I said something too soon? Will this issue of safety for women be forgotten like many other issues that ail and flail our country?

P.S: To me this girl, ANAMIKA is a hero: An ordinary individual who has found the strength to persevere and endure in spite of thoroughly overwhelming obstacles. (Adapted from Christopher Reeves’ definition of a Hero).

P.P.S: God bless you my dear girl. May you heal in body and soul. May your pain cease and your strength increase. May you find strength to strive for better and the courage to be different. May your fears be released and may blessings and love surround you. The entire nation is praying for you and am sure prayers of over 1 billion people will have a positive and nurturing effect!

ॐ शान्ति शान्ति शान्तिः ।। (Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthihi)