I write so I can breathe. I am constantly evolving, mindless at times, frustrating even perhaps but heck, I wouldn't change the smell of freedom that comes with writing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Violation and Tolerance

(Warning: This post is long, blunt and direct in places. If you are not up to it, and not an adult, please do not read it. Yet, I wish to God every Indian reads it and tries to soak in the harsh reality of it all and does something about it.)

Today's cup of coffee is very bitter indeed. While I savour my cuppa, the truth that I sip in along with it is the bittterness and frustration of being an Indian, leave alone being a woman. There are days when one's mind lingers on too many emotions that tend to overwhelm us. There arises a deep ache and slowly creeps in a twisted feeling in the pit of my stomach. This particular feeling, for the past few days has wrenched my heart, twisted my gut and has dug into deep personal spaces where I, as a woman, purely as a woman and a human being exist. The nightmares do not end...

The rape of the twenty-three year old shook us up. This is not a new story. Women are raped every day in India (and the rest of the world). Men too. This is horrific and it is true and we are an indifferent lot to simply be outraged for a day or two (while the media feeds us horrendous details of the tragedy) and then forget about it when something else takes away their attention from it. It is not a tragedy that a brutal rape happened. The bigger and frightening tragedy of it all is that this will all be forgotten. The indifference is palpable, sickeningly so. That, is the tragedy because there will be another woman or man who will be raped while we shake our heads, talk about the cruelty of it all and do nothing about it. 

The police are supposed to protect us, safeguard our lives and ensure we are secure when we step out of our homes (and sometimes within our homes). Why should we be afraid to live, to work, to walk, to run, to be happy stepping out of our homes? Apparently, we have every reason to be so. Here is one of the tiniest tip of an iceberg that you have no idea about. Read up The Rapes Will Go On It is a rather long read, of four pages. But, I would ask you to read it nonetheless. You need to know these names and what you are up against when you walk into a police station (this is Delhi NCR) to file an FIR for a rape. 

I would rather see the public who quietly walk away from seeing such things happen in front of their eyes take a more pro-active approach and really beat the shit out of these guys...because, quite obviously the people who are supposed to safeguard our women are not doing anything and all they do is blame the women. Harrish Iyer rightly said, we all pray for sons... and forget to teach them to respect women. I will not generalize all men. 

But why is it that the outrage is just by women and a few bunch of men? Don't our men friends want to safeguard us, to stand by us in helping us fight this (what seems like a perpetual) losing battle? Don't protest here...go do something about it. Set the system right by not accepting something like this happening in front of your eyes. Not any more. We may not have done anything until now. What stops us from beginning now? Here is an example of what happens with those who cover the news. Watch this. Men Don't Fear Cameras or the Media (please put up with the 20 seconds advert because what you need to see is not posted on U-Tube for free but needs a sponsor). So, are these men going to be caught? You take a call. There are hundreds of people who ply Delhi roads. These men have been caught on camera. Who has the balls now (or a vagina, more appropriately - apparently because balls are weak) to ensure these three men are caught and taken to task? What this girl is facing is not something new. I have faced it. So have you or someone you have known. Some of us have faced it a lot worse than this. 

I watched a video on NDTV online yesterday. I watched Sushma Swaraj speak up and demand what the government is doing about it. Thank you Ms Swaraj, but you got it all twisted and it is your negative attitude toward a woman who has been raped that makes it all the worse for the survivors. We are not 'defiled'. We have undergone trauma, brutality and a terrifying experience that will probably give us nightmares. What we need is to get over it and get on with our lives and not live under a 'defiled' stigma. This is what is wrong with your perception (and probably a lot of women and men look at it the same way). A woman's body and soul perhaps has been violated. Yes. But, do not crush it even further by labeling her (or him) with a stigma of 'defiled'. That is a bigger and deeper thing to be scared of. Agreed, it will take years to heal, sometimes, not at all but don't make the journey of healing even more difficult. You, as a woman, in a seat of power where what you say and do has an impact, need to change your perception. Why blame the men alone? Here is why the society views the rape victim as a nobody and as the walking dead. Because, you are creating it. 

I am amazed at the outrage with which the kith and kin of women go about commiting murders in the name of honour killing because their sister, daughter, niece (and so on) has decided to spend her life with someone she is happy to be with. What stops that enraged spirit from standing up and not tolerating rape and abuse? There will be rapes commited within homes, in the quiet of the night, by an uncle, a father, a brother or a cousin and even a husband but all of it is quietly swept under the carpet in the name of upholding respectability in the society. The threats seep these women and children into a fear and inability to voice out the torment of being raped day in and day out. A lot of people will protest when they read this. I know that. They will protest that it is not so in every family. Really? Even my family will protest. I know better. Some of the women in my family know better. They are too afraid to say it. They face the fear of losing the stability of their lives and will continue to be so. I am sorry for them. I refuse to be like that. I realized decades ago that we will all decide to fight our battles when we have had enough, in so many ways. 

The deep-seated cause of it all begins at home. My friend Harrish rightly said this today. Read it and I know, a lot of you will agree....(of course, some of you will deny...but if you are being indifferent on the road when you see someone being molested or teased or raped, you are as much a part of this) - 

"Paai Laagu Pappaji... Main rape kitta!"

Arrest the parents. Excluding the pathological rapists, I firmly believe that rapists are made by bad parents. Better parenting, and an open culture, and not death penalty would reduce gory incidences like rape.
I agree. If you cannot bring up a kid with values and respect for human beings, men and women alike, it is the parents. You have no right to bring a child into the world if you cannot inculcate values in them. Why do you even pray for having a son? So he turns either into a rapist or someone who shuts a blind eye to when something like that happens? Why is Durga, Saraswati, Lakshmi or Parvati worshipped? How can that be? But yes, that is the truth. What will it take for us women in India to let go and be Kali instead? What will it take for men in this country to realise that some day, it will happen? It will be too late then. Too late. Why forget that women weild knives in the kitchen every day, they light a fire every day? 

Somya  Lakhani wrote this and I want to share it:
Today, something has changed inside me. I want to walk with a rickety wax candle in my hand till India Gate or Jantar Mantar or the PHQ. I want to walk, for I have had enough. I am not the lifeless entity fighting for survival in a hospital, I am not the one with marks on my face and rods thrust inside me. But I am still one of the victims. Everyday I am a victim.

And no, unlike a lot of people, I am not going to do a Delhi rant. No. This could have happened anywhere – the city, in my eyes, is inconsequential. You're allowed to disagree with me, I will respect your opinion. It's the people that disgust me – the rapists, the number of people who saw the semi-nude girl on the road who didn't cover her up probably, the cops who are happy that they have “successfully” nabbed the main accused, the TV reporters who leave no detail of the gruesome act to imagination and the politicians who are making this a battlefield for their own good. These people make my blood boil and I want to be part of the march to let them know that they have even converted me. I was the cynical person at home who thought no amount of walking and public show would change things. See, your attitude has even changed me?

However, what disgusts me the most is the fact that we all will forget it tomorrow. It would join the ranks of one of those many incidents that have happened in my city, my country, before. We are angry right now. Very angry, no doubt. But tomorrow something else will indulge us and we'll forget her and her pain.

I hope and pray she doesn't live. I hope she dies in that hospital and doesn't wake up to a society that doesn't value or respect her. A society that won't even let her take a bus at 9 pm. A society that will constantly remind her that she was raped. And I hope those six disgusting men (suggest another word, for they are not humans) do not get Capital Punishment. It'll be too easy on them, a peaceful death. They don't deserve that. They don't deserve feeling liberated. Torture them slowly, everyday and make them go through the agony she is going through. Kill them, everyday, every minute of their life.

The Mayans were right when they said the world will come to an end in 2012. 

They probably meant humanity.

Too many questions. Too many people afraid of being the solution. Too many preferring to be a part of  the problem. Too much quiet. Too many forgotten values. We have no conscience any more. We sit in classrooms, in lectures, in satsangs listening to stuff we never pay attention to. We have let go of our morals. Somewhere in this race for becoming a developed nation, we have degenrated into callous beasts and frightened twits who lack courage to take action, to do our bit. We watch this every day. A rape. An abuse. In our homes. Outside. No, waking at 4 am in the morning to pray does not absolve you.

We women, as much as the men are the culprits.We treat our children differently when they are growing up. We teach our daughters how to dress, how to curb our instincts, how to be the demure, a compliant weak woman when we grow up so we can find a man suitable enough to marry. We teach our daughters to cook, train them to ensure we please the opposite sex when we grow up by being obedient, by being chaste (beats me). We do not teach our sons to respect their sisters. We give them preferential treatment. We permit them to get what they demand for right from a smaller age. We do not teach them that women need to be respected. We do not teach them that their sisters need to be protected from men who are likely to abuse her. We do not teach them that it is not honourable to kill her because she seeks happiness. We do not teach them values of being a kind, thoughtful and compassionate human being. How does one expect a sea change overnight in a man after he has grown into an adult?

No, do not kill the girl child, not when she is in the womb, not when she is born. Kill the male children is more appropriate......"even better, kill the parents who want to kill girl children; have they ever wondered where they came from? It was a WOMAN who gave birth to them after all!" (as stated by a friend) Not that it is a solution but the outrage of it all hurts like hell, all the time. They are the ones who are growing up and killing women (and men) all over and over again...because those nightmares do not end. Not all men, however, thankfully are like that. You may end up with someone who will love you despite it all. But, your nightmares, they will come, to haunt you, even when you have put it all behind. Some nights, they will ravage your spirit again, seeking out your fears and tormenting you again. That is the reality a woman or a man who has been raped goes through each time another woman or man has been raped. 

We ask our girls, women to stay indoors. Why? Why should it be the women who needs to stay indoors? The man who has no ability to carry himself with a positive attitude and respect for women should be the one punished. I do not need to stay at home. I am not raping someone, or teasing, or molesting someone or abusing someone on the streets. The man is. Let him stay at home. Let him not venture out until he gets his senses right. We women especially are betrayed, by our own women and the men as well.

If you cannot bring up a son properly, please do not have one. If you cannot teach your child to be a man of values, courage and ethics, please do not carry them in your womb. If as a father, you cannot teach your son to respect a woman or another man and turn a blind eye to violation of their body and abuse, please go kill yourself. I have no expectations from a government that has laws protecting the man who abuses a woman or another man sexually and destroys their life. I have expectations from a society that professes to be developing. Perhaps, it is time a better way to curb this begins. If not for ours but for generation next at least. I am an Indian. I do not wish to ever be ashamed of being one. I am.

We live in a world that is never going to be ideal. Agreed. But, we can be the change.

If we cannot...we need to be afraid...very, vey afraid.