The Bengaluru mass molestation on New Year’s Eve is not only a blot on the individuals who committed the untenable act, but it also stains the image of democratic India. Almost seven decades after independence, we are unable to provide an environment that gives liberty to women to roam around freely on the streets. Four years back, when the Nirbhaya gang rape took place, everyone thought that it would serve as a beginning where such crimes could be prevented. The public sentiments showcased the anguish amidst the youth in particular and people in general, against sexual harassment. Four years after the Nirbhaya incident, the situation remains the same, if not grimmer.
Whenever any such crime happens, we outrage for a limited number of days. The news channels run the sensational stories for some time and then, as you know, the public memory is short. People become oblivious to the incident. One fundamental point that emerges from all these incidents is that it puts light on what should be done.What should we as a society do in order to avoid such horrific crimes in the future? First and foremost, the fundamental solution is the rigorous enforcement of stern laws. Even though we have strict laws in our statute book, the point where we lose lies in its enforcement.
The police system which is responsible for the enforcement of the law is itself in dire need of reform. The lesser proportion of women in the police forces, lack of gender sensitisation amongst the police forces to deal with gender-related crimes, monumental shortage of police personnel are some of the very basic reasons which create problems in preventing gender-related crimes. In 2014, YKA ran a story on the gang rape of a 15-year-old mute girl which reflected the inability of the police to deal with crimes in a sensitive manner.
This, after all, is not only an onus on the police. The actual burden lies on the shoulders of our parliamentarians, who must debate the issue in Parliament and seek a reform in policing through the executive. But sadly, police reform has never been on the debate list of the Parliament. Even if the police is successfully able to understand the gravity of the crime, then the institution responsible for punishing the criminal is itself in dire need of reform. The time taking judicial process makes it difficult for the victim, especially if she hails from a poor background, to get justice quickly. If the perpetrator belongs to a bahubali family, there is often a chance of the victim’s family being intimidated by the goons, which ultimately leads to a compromise between the two parties. If the laws are to be implemented in letter and spirit, the institutional reforms in the judiciary and police become inevitable.
Other than the institutional reforms, there are certain behavioural changes that must be adopted in our societal functioning. Every time any such crime happens, the buck is often passed to the victim by the politicians. Some politicians even accuse the invasion of western culture for bringing such menace to our great Indian culture. But as they accuse western culture, they must also be reminded by someone that the model of democracy we adopted is also predominantly western and the reason why they enjoy powers and privileges is also because of the government system adopted from the west. When the politicians entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the rights of citizens become moral police and condone such heinous acts, they not only belittle the intensity of such crimes but also embolden the courage of the perpetrators.
We, as responsible voters, should take a vow and ensure that these irresponsible ministers should not be allowed to become MPs/MLAs by our votes. The Bollywood fraternity should also realise that it also has a role in normalising the eve-teasing culture. Recently, All India Bakchod came out with a video that chided Bollywood in a very sarcastic manner for the sexism shown in the movies. The directors and actors must understand that there is a very thick line between flirting and eve-teasing and one must be cautious while endorsing an eve-teaser as a protagonist.
Lastly, and most importantly, we have to overcome the blunt discrimination against the girls in our day to day lives. Discrimination against them starts from their time of birth to their last breath. It creates a gender distortion in society and the boys perceive themselves as the protector, controller and guide of their female counterparts. This skewed discrimination must come to and end. This discrimination is also aggravated by the legitimacy the practices like polygamy, nikah halala, marital rape enjoy in our statute book. We have to enforce the teachings of great thinkers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Jyotirao Phule in our society.
If we want our country to become a world power, we must acknowledge the problems and seek a solution for the same. Where every head is held high and no mind is without fear. Where people can dress how they like, eat whatever they choose to, roam wherever they want. We cannot push our evolution back to the era before stone age. I hope this grave incident arouses the conscience of our politicians and society and they spearhead a movement that gives respect and provides safety to women and girls.