Just when we ushered in the new year brimming with optimism, new hopes and resolutions, we got to witness the “Padmavati” (now called “Padmaavat”) row in all the leading newspapers, tabloids and TV shows.
Berserk and visibly irritated with the irrational vandalisation by the so-called guardians of our history, I decided to browse elsewhere just for a whiff of fresh air. Then, my eyes suddenly caught a glimpse of an online news website notification. It read – “Woman, 22, Pulled Out Of Car In Gurgaon, Raped In Front Of Husband”. I was deeply appalled. Here I was, hoping for brand new beginnings and our nation was still struggling to wriggle out of our heinous past. Will this country ever manage to become a safe haven for women?
Reading more about this ghastly incident, I suddenly realised the irony of the so-called societal rules and regulations which are boasted about, whenever any such incident of rape occurs. The victim was not travelling alone late at night, she was not returning from a party with friends, she was not wearing ‘revealing’ clothes, and she was not drunk. So, ideally, she complied with the entire ‘do not do’ list set up by our feudal pseudo-society. Then what could have gone wrong this time?
Perhaps, the accused men had consumed chowmein, which urged them to indulge in such an act. Yes, these are the kind of public statements issued by biased and foolish people who proclaim to be leaders of the nation. And yes, these are the kind of excuses we somehow manage to give, to justify this dastardly crime.
As I write this article, my heart shudders to think what the husband and wife must have gone through. Sometimes, I contemplate about who these criminals are, what they think, what they believe in. They are merely one amongst us – a part of our big Indian family. So, what makes them different? Is it because of increased libido, desire for recreation, genetic/regional constraints or a lack of education?
I believe that a simple answer to this question which lurks inside me is – sheer lack of respect for women. Most definitely, there must be a major flaw in the upbringing of these criminals where they’ve grown up in the grey shades of patriarchy. Maybe, they’ve grown up watching women around them being abused and taken for granted. They’ve always walked with a pseudo sense of superiority over women, as their fathers have done just that. They might not have been surrounded by incidents of sexual violence. But, small incidents which demean their own mothers and sisters at home might have projected the image of women as mere weak and whimpering mortals with no voice/opinion of their own. So, exerting their hollow sense of power and authority over a woman by violating her, seems to be a self-explanatory option for these criminals.
Women, in my opinion, are equally responsible for this feudal mentality of patriarchy in our nation. As it is rightly said, women are the biggest enemies of women in this country. They have been subjugating fellow women for ages, in their own quest for power and authority. But ironically, they have actually been abiding by rules of the society, supposedly framed by none other than men. Probably, these women have been living under the nagging fear of being boycotted from the confines of their closed indoors. They need to get rid of that constant need of men for support.
I am not trying to project a biased feminist take on this scenario. People should wake up to the reality of contribution of both the provider (men) and the nurturer (women) for maintaining the balance of life. This does not necessarily mean that one is totally dependent on the other for survival. That mindset has to change.
Ironically, we have turned into a society, where we believe in upholding our hollow sense of pride and respect for the queens of the past with mindless vandalism – even at the cost of our children’s safety on roads. Fighting for history has somewhat become more important and fancier than respecting women in the present.
Rani Padmini (a fictionalised character in the annals of Indian history) supposedly committed self-immolation to protect her honour against a barbaric invader. And that aspect catapults her image to be honoured till eternity. Coherently, this brings up a question in my mind – is there any woman in this world who would want to get raped deliberately? So, why don’t we have the same level of protests to bring the rapists to justice? Why don’t we have relentless demonstrations until the guilty are punished, and a right example is set to prevent this from happening again?
When we project sincere regards and honour to a queen of valour in the past, then we ought to concur the same degree of respect to women even today. I hardly see an iota of that vigour to fight for the cause of women today. Are we becoming more and more intolerant? This level of hypocrisy is saddening indeed.
Collectively, as a society, we seem to have failed miserably. It’s time to teach our boys the nuances of respecting women in all walks of life. And the lesson begins right at home. Most certainly, chivalry suits men, not debauchery.