By Mayank Jain:
“जहाँ नारी की पूजा होती है वहां देवता निवास करते हैं”.
The motto is simple yet powerful. It speaks of feminism in the most poignant manner and makes us all take account of the fact that women deserve at least an equal place in the society if not superior. The line is found written across many police stations in the country but there lies the ultimate irony, as Satyamev Jayate highlighted.
The incident of 16th December shook us all, tore off our souls in numerous parts and woke us all up from the deep slumber. Enough was enough now and there was no way we would tolerate the horrendous treatment women go through every single day. Rape is a big word, eve teasing is an everyday happening with women in our country and so is sexism and domination by males in the family and social circles.
Aamir Khan highlighted the horror stories of many such innocent women who were abducted from their commute back home from work, schools and colleges and raped twice, thrice or more before finally being chopped to pieces or burned to death. The tragedies don’t end just there; women who could escape and went to complain to police were abducted again and raped before they finally killed them and got rid of the ‘problem’. A terrible case in UP emerged when the perpetrators actually cut off the tongue of a girl robbing her of the ability to recount the treatment she went through before they released her after raping. These cases are just the tip of the ice berg. Women all around are being treated like commodities and something at disposal and it is as easy as stealing a cola from the store nowadays to rape a girl and run away like a mad dog because the system is full of lazy, corrupt animals which are given the duty to protect us.
Females in our society go through such incidents on a daily basis but there is no respite for them from the side of the judiciary either. Police officers are either too lazy to lodge an FIR of such incidents or they are corrupt and let offenders go for a price. Government has given them a duty to safeguard people but instead of making an effort they end up teaming up with offenders. Some policemen locked up an 11-year-old girl for 6 days after she was raped and others offered protection to a victim in lieu of ‘compromise’. Rapes happen inside the premises of the police stations and this is why people like you and me don’t dare to call the authorities when something happens. We are scared of becoming the victims again.
It is a fundamental right of every citizen to get an FIR registered in the police station as soon as something happens and all of us need to understand that policemen are not doing us a favour by registering a complaint.
Moving to the issue of hospitals, where women go through another level of dreadful treatment after they have been victimized. A woman who has endured rape has to suffer humiliation at the hands of doctors who are supposed to treat her and in some cases they end up exploiting her more by making unwarranted advances in her private areas that are already recuperating from the trauma.
Women are asked questions like “Are you sure you are not faking it?” and “Are you sure that you were raped?” and other comments on their ‘indecency’ and ‘immoral behaviour’ are made by these doctors who should provide them with utmost care and attention in their times of trauma.
Our judiciary is very weak and limps to deliver justice to the innocent victims. As much as 1,01,000 rape cases were pending in the courts by the end of 2012 and only 3533 people were convicted while more than 11,000 were let go and others are in waiting. The need to have fast track judgments on rape cases can’t be overemphasized. This is just those cases which reached the courts and most of them get lost in the police stations or never get reported just out of the fear of hassles that people go through in courts.
The public lawyer meets the victim for the first time in the court and asks her multiple times to recount the details of the case, not letting her forget the ordeal for even one second. The same happens in the court where judges demand ‘proof’ to pass judgments and adjournments happen regularly dragging some cases for decades. Can we now say, India is a just society with well-functioning judiciary?
Today’s episode highlighted this very important issue and we actually need to talk about it more and work to create a safer society for all of us. Only cursing the system won’t help and similarly vehement protests against police and authorities won’t wake the ones on the top from their sleep.
The issue of women safety is a sensitive one. Education is the only long term and foolproof solution that we have at our disposal to sensitize people on gender equality and uproot the patriarchy men are endowed with. As a measure of immediate empowerment, we need:
1. Self-defence trainings: Free and compulsory for all the women in the country.
2. Protection from the side of institutions: Colleges should get additional security for women, offices should employ guards to accompany women to parking lots and their homes and apartment security guards should be increased in the dingy areas of the city.
3. Government assistance: Police stations should be made more women friendly with increase in the number of policewomen. A helpline that actually works and doesn’t require women to go through the havoc of going to a police station is need of the hour and PCOs need to come back to streets so that help is never too far away.
4. Personal efforts: Pepper sprays, alarms, company of a trusted family member or a friend are some of the ways you can ensure safety of yourself and women around you. Many innovative applications as well as SOS tools have come up and a little research on the internet to stay safe would go a long way.
5. Long term change: We need to restate the equality of women as a gender and get the message across to the most rigid of mindsets through innovative measures. People should be clarified about the concept of feminism as an ideology of equality not of women dominance but equal standing of both the sexes.
Life is unfair and the world around us is scary, the only way to get through is to be headstrong and confident of ourselves and believing in our rights more than the fear perpetrated by the convicts.