Breaking News: Nirbhaya Is Alive

Posted by Utsav Basu in Society
April 16, 2018

Yes, Nirbhaya is alive. Nirbhaya is alive in Unnao, in Kathua, in Rajasthan and among the lakhs of files that are gathering dust in police record rooms, waiting to be opened, waiting to be heard. Yes, Nirbhaya is alive. Nirbhaya is alive in the minds of those who fear to leave their home at odd hours, in the minds of parents who reluctantly limit their daughter’s freedom by setting a deadline or stopping them from wearing clothes that “instigate” men. However, Nirbhaya deserves a peaceful death which can only be delivered if we wake up.

For a moment, forget about the politicians trying to score brownie points out of the mudslinging after a rape in the country. Forget about the not so civil society hitting the streets for a change. Forget about media reports that support the above two. For a moment, ask yourself, is this the India you learnt about from the scriptures? For all I can do now is visualise a picture of Bharat Mata clad in a torn blood-stained saree, holding a Tricolour that has faded much beyond recognition.

In the last few years, as if India already hadn’t seen much, the country witnessed a plethora of problems plaguing the very character of India. If the Partition wasn’t enough for two communities to spew venom against each other, recently, the wounds were made fresh through a series of systematic attacks in the guise of a promise for a better Bharat, but where did it lead us to?

A better Bharat, as many thought, would be a country fighting against corruption, a country helping its poor stand up on their feet, a country that would give equal opportunities to all despite their caste. However, what happened is far from the utopian idea that many of us had sketched in our mind when we voted for a change. It has now come to tagging rape victims as Dalits and Muslims. For God’s sake, a Dalit or a Muslim is not raped; it is a woman, a lady, a girl child or when evil is at its peak, a toddler!

So what will bring a stop to such atrocities on women? Is it going to take endless candlelight marches or opposition parties hitting the streets at odd hours to make a difference (read to win elections)? No, the disease is not so easy to cure. Incidents of rapes have always haunted the country. Millions of such cases went unreported either due to lack of a proper medium or the rampant practice of patriarchy. It is only after the fourth estate of democracy became (selectively) powerful, did we feel that the country indeed needs help.

It is not sex education that is going to help either. It is shame that will bring a change. Shame in the eyes of the lawmakers who pen strong anti-rape laws, but don’t address the main issue. Shame in the eyes of a man who looks not at the face, but at the breasts of a woman. Shame in the eyes of those who defend rapists and take out marches. Shame in the political system of India that scores brownie points out of something as heinous as rape. Shame in the eyes of millions who consider a scheme as “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” to make a difference but don’t work to really respect and honour women.

The Kathua case was communal, and it should be condemned. Yes, a rape is a rape, but we need to call out all aspects of it, and not just the selective ones that suit our interests.

Before concluding, I would like to recall a few lines from a poem recited by Mr Amitabh Bachchan in the movie “Pink”. It is time the youth wakes up from their slumber.

“Tu aarti ki lou nahin, tu krodh ki mashaal hai.

Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal, tu kisliye hatash hai?

Tu chal, tere wajood ki samay ko bhi talash hai.

Chunar ura ke dhwaj bana, gagan bhi kapkapayga,

Agar teri chunar giri, to ek bhukamp ayega, ek bhukamp ayega.

Tu khud ki khoj mein nikal, tu kisliye hatash hai?

Tu chal, tere wajood ki samay ko bhi talash hai.”

You are not a chaste Goddess slowly burning away, you are the flame of anger.

Go, find yourself… why have you lost your hope?

Go on to discover yourself, even time is waiting for you!

Let your clothes be a harbinger of your freedom,

Even the sky will shudder seeing it up close

And if it ever falls, the earth will shatter

And an earthquake will ensue.