THE CITIZEN EDITORIAL | 2 DECEMBER, 2019
Rape is About Dirty Patriarchy, Not Religion
Jaipur:A six-year-old schoolgirl who went missing on Saturday in Rajasthan's Tonk district, was found dead in her uniform, allegedly raped and strangled with her school belt, police said on Sunday.
Her body was lying near bushes in a remote area near her village Khetadi. Liquor bottles, snacks and bloodstains were also found at the spot, police officials said.
Mumbai: A 35-year-old woman died on the way to the hospital after she was beaten allegedly by her boyfriend near Mankhurd railway station in Mumbai, police said on Sunday.
Seeta Pradhan collapsed after being slapped allegedly by her boyfriend Raju Pujari Yallapa on Saturday when he saw her talking to another person near a public toilet in the eastern suburb, an official told news agency Press Trust of India.
"She collapsed after being hit by Yallapa and was declared dead on arrival at the Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar," the official told PTI.
All this even as Parliament expressed outrage over the dastardly rape and murder of the 26 year old veterinarian from Hyderabad by four men. Emotional speeches ran through both Houses as the Members of Parliament demanded strict action, with actor Jaya Bachan demanding, "These types of people (the rape accused in the Telangana case) need to be brought out in public and lynched.”
On the social media, however, lessons still remained to be learnt with the gruesome, meticulously planned rape and murder of the young woman being communalised by trolls with little to no understanding of the larger situation. The focus shifted from the four, to the religious identity of the one, as tweet after tweet sought to communalise the rape although the men involved had worked together regardless of religious differences. What brought them together was the dirt of patriarchy that made them target the young vet, and plan the abduction, the rape and the murder ---that ended with them setting her body on fire---in which all four according to preliminary investigation played a singular part.
The social media focus on religion has also moved attention away from the role of the policemen who ignored the pleas of the victims sister and refused to take out search parties on the basis of police station jurisdiction. The victim had called her sister, told her where she was stranded because of a flat tyre, she sounded scared and terrifed, her phone went dead and within half an hour her sister had reached the spot. Not finding the victim she knocked on the doors of the police station where the cops on duty refused to respond. If they had, the girl might have been saved, as the crime was taking place at that time itself.
The effort by vested interests to pin the ghastly crime on one person is in itself a travesty of justice, as four men were involved, as was the police in refusing to play its role. And while it is good for Parliament to take up the issue, this has been the case for all major crimes, with the accused often evading arrest or getting bail within days. Lynching the rapists is not the answer, but hard invesigation, quicks arrests and a speedy trial is. Every rapist feels he can get away with it, and as the Hyderabad rape shows, there was a sense of impunity in the entire manner in which the rape was planned and the murder executed. Poor policing, political patronage, and sheer apathy have contributed to this sense of impunity with men being encouraged to look on women’s bodies as theirs.
Patriarchy that has been strengthened rather than weakened over the years through faulty policies, bad implementation and eulogised social norms, has reduced women to possessions wherein the rapist does not feel guilt or fear. In a country where politicians watch porn in a state Assembly during a session, and far from being ostracised get positions, the sense of right and wrong has been blurred --- sometimes it seems beyond repair. Girls are aborted in the womb, buried at birth, discriminated at in the house over food and education, exploited at work, beaten in marriage and all through their lives with the fear of abuse and violence. This is unfortunately, not an exaggeration but an under statement for us in India.
There has to be a drastic social overhaul. Attitudes have to change, and in this case perhaps from the top downwards. Unfortunately those in government and elected representatives in the legislatures have over the years given free play to jokes about women, sneers, disparaging comments and a certain indifference and apathy that in itself is revolting. Women legislators too share this masculine space, and have done little to push forward reforms that embrace the female gender from the moment a child is born. Instead they come together on a certified rape, cry and shout revenge, and then all melt away into the zone of silence with the men folk---until the next heinous crime.
A gender policy has to be formulated and implemented. A Commission has to be appointed for a comprehensive policy for the women of India, starting from infanticide till death. Policing, social reforms, education, safety, security, employment, abuse, health and all the multi-dimensional issues and problems facing the Indian women have to be brought together into a policy that is then implemented intensively. Through the Constitution and the law, through rules guiding education, through non negotiable work place guidelines, through police stations and the courts.
Until then rape is not going to stop as indeed it never has. After the terrible Delhi rape of a young girl in a moving bus this crime against women did not stop. Perhaps, if there were statistics could count on, actually increased. Symptomatic condemnation cannot resolve the issue that rests in patriarchy and the widespread and institutionalised discrimination of women, to a point where their safety and very existence is compromised.