The last couple of days have been tough. Not just for me but for every person that calls themselves an Indian. I have been writing articles non-stop because there is so much going on in the aftermath of the publicity of the rape case in Kathua.
At night, tired, I turn down my laptop thinking, “No, we can’t go any lower than this.” And yet, the next morning when I wake up, I see that we have managed to find a new low.
A crime itself is a mediocre reflection of the society because it is reflective of the individual. But the rhetoric that circulates after and about that crime is the actual reflection, the pure one, of our society, due to the collective perception.
The Quint, like many other news channels, shared the interview of Deepika Rajawat, the fearless woman, an intelligent lawyer, fighting for the eight-year-old rape and murder victim in Kathua.
She has received rape and death threats from multiple people and is obviously in fear. For some reason, I wanted to see the kind of comments posted about this threatened lawyer. To my shock, I found many offensive things out of which two deserved special mentions. One guy calls her ‘anti-national’ and the other one points her out as ‘hot’.
At a time when the entire nation is mourning the loss of an innocent child, there is a post that is talking about not just the rape and murder of a child but also a professional woman, a lawyer is threatened by people from her own profession; all this gentleman could think of was her looks.
This is reflective of that sexist narrative where men objectify women and see them just as a walking set of sexual parts of a female body and not as a complete human. It is easy to call this man an idiot and move on but it is hard. It makes me wonder who failed this man. Did the education system fail to teach him that women are humans? Did his parents fail to teach him how to behave with fellow humans? Did our society fail to raise him as a decent human being?
It is all of these, I think.
Girls start facing sexual assault from their school ages and rarely is there an intervention. I am a speaker on gender discrimination and equality and while visiting India, I speak at schools, talk to young kids about respecting the opposite gender etc. To my shock, principles have called me before workshops and requested me specifically not to mention ‘rape’, ‘assault’, ‘harassment’ or ‘victim’, as if these topics are illegal.
You mention sex education and the channels are switched. You write about it and you’ll see rebuttals from people that cannot differentiate sex education from porn. Indians believe that sex education in the school curriculum will encourage young Indians to have sex.
Well, according to data and research, if anything, sex education is the reason teenagers delay sexual encounters in countries like the Netherlands. They know what it is, how it works, the risks associated with it and their curiosity is eased. They are in fact one of the happiest economies in the world.
In fact, forget about child rapists, they don’t even have enough criminals and hence Dutch prisons are closing. Their country is too safe and there is very less crime. It isn’t just because of sex education in schools but also drug-related policies and other welfare and safe havens provided to their citizens by their government.
The parents failed him when the father probably beat the mother or the parents discriminated against the daughters in the family and he learned they are worth nothing. The society failed him when we fell in love with Shah Rukh Khan stalking and harassing Kajol in that Swiss train in DDLJ, or when we made songs like “Gandi Baat” and the usual Honey Singh tunes as our party anthems, when we constantly elected ministers and officials that have harassment and rape charges on them… just to name a few.
Imagine how far India is from being a safe society!
The second remark said that Deepika Rajawat is an ‘anti-national’.
The biggest disadvantage of labels and tags is that idiots start throwing these around without understanding the full depth and seriousness of it. ‘Anti-national’ means ‘anti-India’. To fight for justice for an eight-year-old gangraped and murdered child is ‘anti-Indian’? So what is ‘pro-Indian? Supporting the rapists? Is that how we define Indian citizenship now? Since when did India become a nation of rapists and showing opposition against them become being equal to being disloyal towards India?
I am more than shocked at the rhetoric circulating lately on social media. When the December 2012 gangrape case happened, the entire nation stood united to express outrage and to plead for the arrests and death penalties of the rapists. Who would have thought a day would come when we would see protests and rallies not in support of a rape victim but that of the rapist?
To end, I can only write that I wish and pray that Deepika Rajawat remains safe and justice be served. And may our men drop this toxic masculinity and see women as equals.
Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
As long as we work on ourselves, the country will be fine.