It has been two years since that gruesome incident. Dec 16, 2012. This date will forever remain etched in our memories because on this day, a young girl was brutally assaulted and thrown out of the bus to die – an incident that made us wake up to the fact as to how some human beings can don the soul of demons. The girl, whom the media called as ‘braveheart’ died soon after, leaving her family and the whole nation shocked and helpless. Huge furore ensued, politicians made high promises, candle marches and protests followed everywhere. Now what after two years? Of the five accused, one relaxes in a juvenile home because he had not attained age 18 at the time of the crime. He could rape a woman, brutalise her and help his friends do the same, he could be a heartless criminal that day but his blatant cruelty was forgiven because he was few days short of turning 18.
Another accused hanged himself in jail. The remaining four are still in jail, perhaps enjoying their days. Will they ever be punished for this inhumane, cruel and barbaric act? God alone knows.
This is the state of affairs of our country when it comes to punishing criminals. Since December 16, 2012, there have been numerous reports of rapes and atrocities against women. Some saw these reports as a positive sign that now more women were reporting the matter to police. Really? Then what? What is the conviction rate in such cases? Abysmally low.
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Rapes do not occur just for lust. A rape is a show of power and fearlessness. The power to show that as a man, he is capable of forcing himself on any woman and fearlessness that emerges from the fact that nothing happens to rapists. It is the victim who is always marignalised, blamed and punished by the society for no fault of hers. Our system does nothing to help but by making her wait for years for justice and making her repeat the ordeal that she wishes to forget, every day before an audience, only add to her trauma.
There isn’t any one solution to the whole issue. India has always been a patriarchal society and even today, when examples of women achievers are taken with pride, women continue to suffer because they are ‘women’. Hope the law becomes such a deterrent that any man would dread to touch a woman without her permission. Laws and our system need to change so that it becomes victim friendly and not accused favouring. There should be a deadline for convicting rape cases. It should not stretch for years. A rape is equivalent to a murder because most of the victims never get a chance to lead a normal life again. She is mocked, criticised and looked with doubtful eyes for the rest of her life. Hence such criminals should be considered as murders and punishment should be harsh and quick.
The second step lies with each household and each parent. It is necessary to start a campaign by each Indian to protest against rapes and this campaign should start from the cradle till grave. I mean, that at each step, there needs to be awareness. Children right from the cradle need to be taught that boys and girls are equal. Toys need not be gender specific. Let boys play with dolls if they wish to and allow the girls to play with cars if such toys make them happy. Don’t tell ‘Boys don’t cry’ or do not ask him ‘why are you behaving like a girl’. Please do not tell girls that they need to cook because they have to get married one day. Stereotype thinking leads to a stubborn mindset. It is these boys who grow up and believe that just because they were born boys, they have the right to humiliate any one and especially women.
Let every girl in each village and city educate herself and be raised as empowered individuals and not just as empowered women. Let us also forget some age-old thinking that only sons can do final rites of their father. Stop accepting and giving dowry. Do away with gender stereotyping. Only when a boy sees that there is no difference between him and his sister and the girls in his school that he will grow up and realise that women are no different and that they are a human being as he is.
This might be a long process ahead but can we at least start now?
Rapes and treating women as second class citizens will continue as long as there is no fear of law and there is this vast difference between how a male and a female child are raised. The government and our justice system will have to wake up and realize that they cannot afford to sleep over the matter because with the kind of atrocities against women are going on, if democracy and justice remain mute spectators, the day will not far when their will be complete anarchy with criminals ruling the roost and the country going to dogs. Politicians, please worry, for you all will be the ones who will suffer the most because most of us, citizens, are anyway living in such a situation.