The memories of India being outraged and ashamed in unison hasn’t faded, only if one recalls the horrific night of December 16, 2012 that brought to fore an act of inhuman savagery.
The nationwide public outburst though forced the government into passing the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, tightening the rape laws in the country to deter crimes against women, which as a consequence, has done very little to contain horrors against the fairer sex that is witnessed of late, as was evident in the recent mass molestation of women on the New Year’s eve in Bengaluru.
The ugly episode did put Bengaluru – the “Silicon Valley” of India to shame on the occasion, causing widespread public condemnation and outburst across the country. But, has the incident marred the city’s nightlife image into a nightmarish one? Has it turned the city in a ‘no safe zone’ for women? No! I don’t think so. The city hasn’t been this way and is undoubtedly one of the safest places for women in the country.
But what really led to things turn unruly and ugly, even as the country was inching towards welcoming the new spell, is something that needs introspection, and an insight into what is ailing our society.
Were the law enforcement agencies at fault, for failing to gauge the situation? Or is it that the law is too weak as to deter such acts of shame? Or do we fault our politicians for being insensitive towards such incidents? Or the revelers, who stood as mute spectators even as women were groped, abused and molested en masse. Whom do we direct our outrage against?
The problem lies not in the institutional mechanism as much as in the societal framework, with a section that is strictly patriarchal and misogynist. At any given point, it places the blame on women for all bad that happens with her, by nitpicking on her lifestyle and other criteria’s.
Gustave Le Bon, a French polymath and author of ‘The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind’ identifies “impulsiveness, irritability, incapacity to reason, the absence of judgement of the critical spirit, the exaggeration of sentiments, and others…”as characteristics of crowd psychology, and mincing no words, it is these features that dominate our society, and all others discourses and narratives including one on women, which turns the victim into an accused, and takes pride in it.
The fault lies within, so should the outrage be pointed towards within. With ‘elephant in the room’ we cannot to afford shy away from calling for a deeper societal transformation and not just keep accusing the West of intoxicating us with their culture. It is time we recognize that it is the patriarchal and parochial mindset, and not women who are responsible and usher in a culture which is inclusive, equitable and tolerant.