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Some Reflections On Gender Violence And Punishment, As We Wait For The Verdict In Nirbhaya’s Case

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By Nupur Walia:

Women suffer from harassment everyday in many forms at the hands of men, who continue to be heathens. Why are their actions defended by shifting the blame on women, that’s the question I ask of myself? I am a pacifist in all ways but one. And that is in the defense of women. Nothing drives me toward violence quite like sexual harassment. The sexual harassment and objectification of women by men has provided a fertile ground for various forms of violence. Those punches, slaps, kicks and bile-filled screams are happening all around us — yes, undoubtedly on our own streets.

Nirbhaya

But the worst thing we can do is allow our horror, at what happened to the 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus here on 16th December last year, to make us complacent.

The barbarous Delhi gang rape left our country numbed and the society underwent an awakening of public consciousness regarding rights, safety and oppression of women. The case disclosed the failure of many public functionaries responsible for traffic regulation, maintenance of law and order and more importantly, their low and skewed priority of dealing with complaints of sexual assault. The outraged citizens from all walks of life pressed the government to bring in stringent anti-rape laws, in the wake of which fast track courts for trying sexual offences were set up two weeks after the incident. But justice was much awaited.

Nine months after the brutal gang rape, a special Delhi court yesterday held the accused guilty of 13 offences including gang rape, unnatural offence, murder, dacoity, conspiracy, kidnapping and destruction of evidence. However, the special court is to announce quantum of sentence today. Will justice truly be served? Perhaps, the whole world knew that accused are guilty, the interests remained in what would be the judgment. Will the accused be set free from their prison cells to go around in Delhi?

The first verdict on Juvenile was a great disappointment in itself which proved beyond all doubts that if a rape accused can prove his juvenile status, he cannot get maximum sentence; his crime falls under an innocent baby boy crime category; thereafter which he can walk off freely with his head high after a three year degree course in advanced study in rapes and molestation techniques at a reformatory home with full government scholarship, free boarding and lodging.

The case highlighted the apathy of civil society and also the inaction of passers-by and bystanders, who failed in their duty of rendering help to the victim and her companion lay injured and disrobed on the roadside for a considerable amount of time in the chilly winter night. We cannot always change mindsets by lighting candles. We have to help people on the road when they need help. To mark the beginning of the change we wish to fight for, we have to start by sharing responsibilities and trying to feel deeply about any injustice committed against any person in any part of the world.

As a citizen of India, the same country Nirbhaya was born in, the same country that helped her dream and the same country that killed her, let us pledge to fight against every living being who looks at a woman with a monster’s eye, fight against every mentality that says woman should be locked up in houses to be safe, fight against governments that fail to punish the criminals, fights against all those rapists who kill a woman in India each time they are out in the open, those who sometimes kill the body and always kill the soul. Let us fight because no one can comprehend the unfathomable panic that comes with clothes being ripped off of you when you most need them on and as you scramble to keep them attached, the subjugation, mocking and indignant statements heavy with insinuations that your body is owed to others?

Do we know of all the Congolese women who are raped and then mutilated? And the Sudanese women? And Mexican women who are kidnapped, raped and murdered? And the women on college campuses in the U.S. who are raped? Date-raped? We hear horror stories daily. Women cannot go out after dark by themselves in this society. They cannot put a drink down at a party in this society for fear it will be dosed with drugs to knock them out. They must regard every man with suspicion in this society. And this all makes me so furious.

It is not up to a handful of men to respect women. It is up to every god-forsaken man to respect her.

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  1. Neha Mayuri

    Wow! Soul stirring, truly touched and shaken.

    1. Nupur Walia

      Thank you for the appreciation, Neha.
      Feel free to pour in any suggestions, if you want.

    2. Raj

      I find your article sexist to the core. You clearly have no respect for a man’s life or dignity, otherwise you would not have made one-sided statements like “It is not up to a handful of men to respect women. It is up to every god-forsaken man to respect her.”

      Men are much more likely to be victims of violent crime. Apart from rape, men get beaten up, robbed, murdered, kidnapped far more often then women. Practically all our military, CRPF,police casualties are men, who give up their lives defending HUMANS from terrorists and criminals. They are victims though they wear the uniform. And even for rape, men are routinely raped in prisons (and no, they don’t deserved to be raped even if they are criminals or undertrials), not to mention outside of prisons. Men are also far more likely to be abused physically as well as sexually at school and colleges, and are often asked to perform sexual acts as a part of ragging.

      But when you write this article about violence and harassment, you conveniently leave out men. Perhaps you feel it is their fault, since the perpetrators are men too. That disgusting idea is victim-blaming, since you are justifying violence against men for being men.

      You have the right to your gynocentric views. But I have the right to take you to task for it and expose your insensitivity to one-half of the human race.

  2. Prashant Kaushik

    We all, without exceptions, have an animal and a liar inside us. While we are pleased to highlight the beast in everyone else, we seldom look into the wild character in our own selves. The liar traits help dodge the bitter questions before us and create an illusory comfortable zone.

    So girl, don’t blame Men alone for objectification of the women. I have seen girls emulating ‘Sheela ki Jawani’ with a high esteem. Nobody forces you to bear catchy looks. In a profession as mine, men arn’t allowed even Collar less T Shirt . While girls can do wear round, sleeveless and what not. The point is when we can wear sober dresses with an accuracy of 99.99% and show our focus is more on work and less on our appearance, why cant the entire female fraternity do the same?
    Now you will bring in your right to wear what you want and blah blah. But all those debates will lead to no conclusion and status quo will be maintained for another few centuries and another writer as you would be writing the same stuff.

    Rest of your article, which is a brief recap of the ‘Nirbhay’ mishap, is ofcourse a bitter reminder of how unsafe the society is increasingly being turned into. But again what is the point of revisiting that torturous story, when there is no one willing to change himself/herself.

    We are just happy with the animal and the liar.

    1. Nupur Walia

      Your criticism may not be agreeable in its entirety, but I shall consider it necessary. I do not condemn or blame men entirely, it’s our government, parents and extended family, community and the media (the newspapers, magazines and TV soaps) are responsible for the way a man grows up to look at women. Women are abused by men in every society, but few males do it with as much impunity, violence and regularity as the Indian male.
      Yes, I agree girls are seen emulating songs such as “Sheila ki Jawani’, ‘Chikni Chameli’ etc, but that cannot rebut the fact that even the boys enjoy songs like “Proper Patola or feel jaw dropped seeing the size zero actresses who flaunts their sexuality on the big screen.” When you acknowledge what the entertainment industry is creating, you give them your approval to make more of it.
      If nobody has to force a girl to bear catchy looks; no should possess the right to degrade the better half of humanity, the female sex. Mind it, it’s not the weaker sex.
      And at no point have I raised the issue of “right to wear anything.” Any rational person should be able to decide what’s sober enough for them to wear. So there was not even a need for you to anticipate that I will bring up my right to wear what I want. I WOULDN’T HAVE DISCUSSED IT ANYWAY! You’re certainly not a judge to comment upon my rights and I’m no one to comment upon yours. There’s no harm trying to enhance one’s looks as long as the female coworkers are performing to their full potential.
      If you’re not so satisfied with the dress code of your organization, kindly discuss the matter with your superiors and colleagues.
      I’m not seeking any conclusions here, but some introspection, some reflection on the lives and morality we build up for ourselves. If there’s going to be another writer like me writing the same stuff, there’ll always be a critic like you to condemn them for doing so.
      I wrote this article in the light of the verdict pronounced by the Delhi Court on the 11th of September. Do you actually think it’s revisting the past? May be you should go and tell that to the number of bloggers, media persons too who still discuss this issue, amid the rising issue of other sexual assault cases..
      Please be happy with the liar and animal inside of you, but as long as there are others who feel the same as you do, let the women beware that they must not think there are no beasts if the forest is silent.
      Thank you for writing!

    2. Prashant Kaushik

      Your suggestion to me to go back to my superiors or my organization is ridiculous and also rude. Its same if I suggest you to go to a police stations or courtroom and voice your concerns there instead of blogging here. Common, there was no need to take it so personal. We are all here for reflections. If you don’t want others to reflect freely on your opinions or if you want only accolades and admirations, please append such information at the end of your article. There are hundreds of articles we read daily and where I would love to comment on.

      You begin your article with sweeping generalization against men. Don’t tell that it was just a grammar mistake. your words ” Women suffer from harassment everyday in many forms at the hands of men, who continue to be heathens.” , shouldn’t it be Women suffers – – – at the hands of few men, or many men ? Similarly, you again hold all men guilty in the following sentences. Now, a man like me, has never done any thing remotely wrong to a woman, and there are thousands like me, why should you than put the onus of objectification of women entirely on men alone ?

      You might self congratulate you that you have made a change. But sorry to say you haven’t. If you really want to make a change, try to reduce the gap and differences which exist between Men and women. Stop making men feel that they are any better or superior. Protest against those differences even if they are to your advantage.

      Eg. If you ever have a boyfriend or a male friend, reject his offers to pay for your dinner, or offer such help or admiration which is not absolutely necessary and which he wouldn’t have offered to his male friends in similar circumstances. This is just an example. Now Pls don’t again come back screaming you should nt have dared to propose an example.

      What I mean is, don’t sit and wait for men to make the change. Unless you shed your dependencies on men for whatsoever reasons including those to make the first change, nothing is gonna change. Take the baton in your own hands. You ( women in general) may have to take certain uncomfortable decisions. Most women know about Aishwarya Rai. How many know about Karnam Malleshwari ? Why should muscle training and strength gaining in gyms be an exclusive propriety of boys and why should girls limit their gym activities to only loosing weight and looking better ?
      Now again the same request, pls don’t shout at me for putting some example.

    3. Nupur Walia

      Firstly, I’m sorry for the delay in reverting to your statements. Even if you have to shun me for replying back, I couldn’t care less but I could care more about trying to improve our tone of writing, and of course, trying to convey my thoughts to you without any hard feelings. See, I’m not going to self – congratulate or berate myself for writing this article. When Jyoti’s life was put an end to, it marked the unification of the whole nation. Let us not let the feelings of hatred or ill will blur our minds. Whatever I could try to write in the given space at this portal, I did it. There were, of course, a lot of connected issues that I wanted to take up in different articles. Anyway…
      I never actually meant to ask you to talk to your superiors. But I ought to have taken a clarification as to why would you want to bring up something like dress code, and try to put it in light with the article I wrote. Hasn’t it become the psyche of one and all that whatever happens should instantly be blamed with the clothes we wear? We never hear of brutal and unnatural offences happening with the movie stars etc. I’m sure the culture of western clothing is well projected by them.
      Although your remarks that ‘I should go to a police stations or courtroom and voice your concerns there instead of blogging here’ crossed the thin line and were infuriating but it actually makes me want to do that. Yes, being a law student and having read about poise of Sir Dayan Krishnan in handling such an aggravated case has opened up my mind and given me a new perspective. Someday, I will argue before the court of law.
      The least I could say is “I never wrote anything before this to the public.” I do want others to acknowledge me, to bring out my faults, to help me learn from their thought process. And it will be only with time that I shall be able to learn how to handle criticism. I hope you can agree on this? You’re free to comment wherever you like, you’re even free to reply or not reply back to this thread. But you should not tell me that I can’t blog here.
      Yes, I began this article with sweeping generalization against men and it was no grammar mistake. So in that case, I humbly accept the suggestion you made. It’s true that in majority of cases, most men are involved. But on the other side, I’m of the knowledge that few men continue to be harassed by their own wives in one way or other. But I wanted to write about it in separate article. You haven’t done a wrong to a woman, but I was ought to be offended when you unnecessarily brought up the “Right to Wear Anything” issue. I’ve tried to put the onus of objectification of women on not just men, but our government, the way consumerism has swept our society. Remember how Jessica Lal was shot dead because she refused to serve Manu Sharma the drink at that party. It’s like the GenX want everything they ever lay their eyes on and on refusal, it becomes more of an insult to them. Considering all this, I assert that there are quite a lot of factors behind such objectification.
      If I were to talk of my personal life, I’m proud to say that “I’m not sitting relaxed and waiting for male members in my family to make the changes and I think I’ve tried to shed dependencies and have started to take up responsibilities.
      And again, the last point of your reply makes sense. But I think even the guys gym hardcore ‘cus they want to improve their personality. There are countless examples of few women athletes and sports star who train themselves day and night. To them, strength is a far more important asset than anything else.
      With this, I hope I have tried my bit to bridge or mitigate the difference of opinions. Even if we cannot fully comprehend each other’s thought, the least we should do is not let those differences of opinion divide us.
      Thanks for writing and enlightening! Good luck!

  3. Ravi Sahay

    Nupur, I like your thoughtful, passionate, reflective and somewhat reactive article. Why did you not mention child sexual abuse? Why did you leave boys that are also sexually abused in India and elsewhere. What if these four adults and the juvenile convicted were sexually abused as children? Was it their “Karma” or fate?
    I hope that you will make a more balanced and yet a very passionate case for all sexual offences against all but foremost, I think, against child sexual abuse. The problem may have started there and then created this vicious cycle, may be. Our society must understand the implications of this crime and rectify itself. This will be the best outcome for all.
    Thanks for your article. Keep writing.

    1. Nupur Walia

      Hello Ravi Sahay, thank you for writing and as I already wrote to Prashant, I’m sorry for having caused such a delay. as it’s my responsibility to revert to all the questions and queries that are raised at me.
      I will firstly say that I didn’t link up child sexual abuse with the gang rape case.
      You have made a supposition that these four convicts, the juvenile, and the deceased accused were victims of child sexual abuse. I think you have a strong affinity towards this topic, which is in a way good. But those who are sexually abused, I wouldn’t like to say it’s their karma or fate, it’s the wrong doing of few people who are a potential threat, anywhere they live in the world.
      But can we really make out a case based upon such a supposition? Even if so and so person was sexually abused when they were just a kid, what right do they possess to be so brutal as these 5 men and 1 juvenile in this case. If that was so, should we expect the kids who were abused in the Rohtak Shelter Abuse cases to go on becoming offenders once they grow up? And I would like to mention that I don’t only weep for what happened to Jyoti in this case, but even at the barbarism that Awindra Pandey had to suffer. A dark road lies ahead of him, with glimpses of past, of screams, of cries, of what happened that night, of the life he tried so hard to protect but couldn’t!
      I’m still too young to gain a grasp of everything, and there’s still a lot to be learnt. I’m going to try writing about the topic you strongly feel for and once I’m done, I’m gonna come back and reply on this very thread.

    2. Ravi Sahay

      Nupur, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I am glad that you will keep writing about this topic.
      Please understand that I am not condoning the crime or the punishment. In fact, through the rhetorical supposition
      in my note, I have only asked you to write and educate the public about the vicious cycle that child sexual abuse (boys and girls) can
      create for individuals, society and the future generations.
      You are young, you write powerfully and you can make the difference through your writings. Thanks again.

  4. sachitanand

    Lots o f men r molested in dere teens but they dont cry like u people ,in fact molesters get an easy pray in the form of male cuz they know that males cant complain ,if u start asking i m sure at lest 60% men have been molested by men n some time women also ,but if a woman touches u without ur permission it is considered that men wd feel pleasure but it doesnt happen in all d cases males r also touched stared n sometime exploited by female but they dont say cuz they know nobody is going to believe so sexual violence is not limited to females only .women put on revealing clothes to attract male its a truth however u try to deny likewise males also wear t-shirt jeans to attract female its natural ,but unlike other animals men n women have a set of preferences ,a female put on skimpy dress n expect that a particular man shd only see or stare or ogle or even touch or fondle her but its not practical .If u r looking sexy men irrespective of age ,look n color ,demography wd b attracted towards u so why u people make a fuss ,if u want to attract a particular person n expect only that person shd look at u den u should wear that kind of dresses in ur bedroom .Prashant has given better argument n u shd understand what he is trying to convey .writing is good thing but there r other subjects too.These days it has become easy to write about plight of women. ………

    1. Nupur Walia

      I understand what you’re also trying to convey here. Although women are the majority of victims of adult sexual assault, it does happen to guys too. And as with female victims, guys are usually assaulted by other men. You know, I read about a case where a MAN was abducted at gunpoint by three men from a rush-hour train on the London Underground, taken to a park and raped. Guys are supposed to act tough and strong, because of which they can’t also openly talk about the atrocities they have to go through. Male-on-male rape has historically been shrouded in secrecy due to the stigma attached to it, mostly because of the fear that they won’t be believed. Because society doesn’t like to admit male rape happens, any guys may be drawn to such a point that they would ‘punish themselves’ with self-destructive behavior. I repeat, this matter wasn’t necessary to be discussed directly in light of the Delhi Gang Rape Case. You’re being after the statements made in the article, but not the very crux. I couldn’t have discussed each and every connected matter in the limited word limit of this portal. However, I’m trying to do best to discuss what’s being raised in comments.
      BUT,
      Enough on the clothing issue, no one, male or female is ever roaming exposed, to attract anyone to rape them. Wearing different style of clothing should not always be considered obscene and it might draw attention but rape, it’s horrible to think of. Are we trying to say that people or kids in proper, full, traditional clothing are not subjected to molestation or rape? Even the kids (boys and girls) are sexually assaulted in schools, in shelter homes, do they also wear clothes that are body fitted, drawing attention?
      If you are to tell me that I made a sweeping generalization against men, aren’t you all trying to tell me that it’s always the women who is at fault when she gets assaulted. Please read about the other issues such as Devdasi Prostitution tradition, female genital mutilations and other related matters. The assault and violence on men is there, but on a broader level, women and girls suffer much.

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