By Udita Garg:
The Delhi gang rape which created a lot of noise, raised voices, slogans, politics and propaganda not only on the streets of Delhi but also worldwide is a terrible accident of misunderstanding and conforming to the stereotypes. Many rushed to the streets but a lot of movement took place inside homes chilled in winter air and social networking sites flooded with exclamations of shame, disgust, anger and horror. Yes, the latter part was what it was: the anger and the horror. Some were shocked at the brutality of the rape while others almost sick and tired of it, raised slogans “enough is enough.”
The appalling sense of tiredness and desperation was visible but revolutions here don’t sustain them. The anger and the conscience do not persist. We lie back with sore throats, tired of raising voices, burning candles and walking without seeing light at the end of the tunnel. The journey is still hardly futile but giving up seems easy and bearable. It is what happened with the movement against corruption. It is what is happening here. Ideologies divide; common goals don’t remain common anymore. The common man is driven out as many take over his voices in disguise of channeling them and taking them to the “right” directions. Who determines right? Revolutions become a farce; a fashion and the real voices are suppressed or misguided. But that is not to say that the upsurge is futile, the anger made up. Nothing is dented and painted about at least that aspect of this protest. But it is not only about women or men, young or old, it is about all of us. That is what the movement was about and is about.
Many people came up with the solutions and suggestions after the incident. Several conducted pamphlets, journals appeared and “aakashwanis” too from gurus and the common people alike. Many said it was about the mind-set, feminists came up with questioning patriarchy, and others came up with an angry reversal of roles. Some said it was the government’s fault and others called it the police’s, others of course blamed the common men and women. When millions of voices shouted “death for the rapists” and others asked for castration, some cried against it in the name of humanity and also that they were no permanent solutions. Talking of solutions, I wonder if there are any. We have grown up in a patriarchal system, so have our ancestors. Changing mind-sets and attitudes is of course an option but it is a long-term goal while increasing security, taking measures such as learning self-defense, increasing safety on the roads etc. are short-term goals. We cannot expect attitudes to change so fast; I don’t see it happening in another fifty years (to say the least). It is true that we must sow the seeds, but we will have to wait enough for the harvest. The definitions of waiting however have to be changed. The wait must be of an active involvement of constantly watering it to grow and not let it get washed away, of throwing the sunlight and not let it be lost in dark shadows and shade. Steps taken could not be only with a long-term vision and not only with a short term too. All need to work towards the same end. Means are important but it is a complex procedure. The path is difficult and the treading of it has to be done very carefully and cautiously because its rope walking on a dark abyss, if we fall now, we really will be dead.
But it is true that seeing the unchanged system and people’s unwillingness to change, one thinks it better to step back. The heart’s light fades. But we must remember that the system is running for a long time and changing it requires years too. It is not a dream that will come true overnight. There will be propaganda around the movement and there will be efforts to contain it. The battle becomes ceaseless in that sense but it is not, history has seen changes happening and will still see them hopefully. I do not want to particularly comment on this incident because I think that nothing can address it adequately. The grief and horror of such a death cannot be expressed in words. But I feel a collective responsibility towards this crime. The guilt and shame is not of every man or every woman or every Indian, it is a loss of humanity. We just cannot blame the rapists for it; I feel her dying within me, within all of us. I say nothing new. Many must have said it before. There are never any new insights when the collective conscience is stirred, we have all looked within us and felt the same. But though conscience and consciousness are shaken up, we must remember that it’s always easy to delude the heart and to give in to desires. Forgetting is easy when the pain is not one’s own. Only an astute and critical evaluation at every step is needed. We surely have lost faith in the political system but both short-term and long term plans and steps are necessary. We can’t look scornfully at people who demand punishment for the rapists and one must also be very careful about existing laws exaggerated and narrowed down to supposedly include the women’s cause that are forwarded to fool the masses. The existing system is not for women- neither the social, political, religious, economic nor legal. We have to make our spaces, seep in through little cracks because that is only what we have for now. We need to make them deeper and larger and sustain them till we build our own concrete homes.
Sexual harassment is an evil we face each day and solutions are not easy because the system has been ingrained in our minds. At last I will say and hope for the best-
‘The journey is long,
But the heart tires not.’