Sunday, August 25, 2013

Another Gang Rape!

One more gang-rape – this time in Mumbai! It once again brought back memories of the horrific Delhi incident of December last year! The whole country – physically and in the social media- is going atwitter with laments of the state of affairs and calls for stricter punishment, some going to extremes to say we should introduce ‘Shariaa’ laws in India! But, stepping back from the immediacy of this case, it seems strange to me that all this outpouring of disgust and revulsion seems to be reserved for cases emanating from India’s Metros, where the victim is an educated and or upwardly mobile, hard working young woman. While deplorable, these are only two cases out of hundreds in the past 8-months. There have been umpteen cases, before and after the Delhi case. And these are happening all over the country. The people who are taking to the streets and the social media clearly identify with these victims as one of their own. And it is admirable that the spotlight that is cast on these cases, is causing the law enforcement agencies to up their act and be seen to be taking action. But what about those hundreds of rapes and gang-rapes – some where the victims are as young as 4-yrs old? Who is shedding a tear for them or pushing the administration to bring the culprits to justice?

That apart, are stricter laws (death penalty or ‘castration’ as the reference to Shariaa law seems to suggest) the solution? What about the efficacy with which the law enforcement machinery is able to bring a case to court, try the accused and prove them guilty beyond reasonable doubt and mete out the appropriate punishment? What eventually is a good deterrent? A strict law or stricter enforcement? We have the death penalty for murder –in extreme, ‘rarest of the rare’ cases! But has that meant that we have no murders? What is the conviction rate? What is the speed with which successful convictions happen? It’s been 8-months since the Delhi gang-rape. And the case is being tried in a ‘Fast Track court’. Under what definition is ‘8-months and counting’ Fast? Why is about 40% of the police force engaged in protecting VIPs? What if India were to have a full blown economic crisis like the one in Punjab, where the State Government is apparently unable to pay salaries of policemen among other government employees? These are disturbing questions for which I don’t have the answers.

I noticed that some of the comments on Facebook and other social media ask the question: “What makes men turn into such devils?” or “our culture is all about respect for women- they are symbolized by our mother or sisters Why then do some men treat women with such contempt and violate their inner persona”. These are definitely good questions for psychologists to attempt to answer. But I have a theory and it has to do with the way societal morals have changed over time. Our cinema, like all of show biz, now promotes promiscuity like never before! Senseless Item numbers like ‘Sheela Ki Jawaani” and “Munni Badnaam Hui” only glamorize the vamp. Most of us watch such movies for three hours, get back to our lives and think nothing more about it. But there must be a lumpen element out there who possibly are not able to distinguish between the make-believe world of cinema and the real world. These are the people who actually believe that Shah Rukh Khan / Rajnikant can single-handedly smash 20 sword wielding guys to pulp! For these people such item numbers only help to reinforce years of cultural power stereo type of male supremacy and convey the message:  “It is okay to look upon women as objects!”  From there it is a downhill slope – beginning with staring at women, passing lewd comments, grabbing various parts of the anatomy of women in crowded places and in some cases, rape.  I am not saying that cinema is the main factor in the ‘objectification’ of women. I use it as an example for one of the players along with other elements like the fashion world, the ad-world ( the way products for ‘fair skin’ are pushed) and also factors like illiteracy and unemployment.

Any comments are welcome.