So much has been said and written about the rape of the 23 year old physiotherapist from Delhi that anything more said on the matter will sound only an echo. Wherever you go, whoever you meet everyone has an opinion on the matter, opinion that they want to be heard, opinion that they hope to be supported. The nation is outraged at heinous and brutal treatment meted out to the girl at the hands of her perpetrators. Slogans are being shouted against the government and the police, agitations and candle march protests are being held in different parts of the country and we are perhaps witnessing one of its own kind of protests in many generations. People are changing their Facebook profile pictures to send across a message of enough is enough to whosoever is listening. Everyone with a sound conscience wants to contribute and make sure that they play their part in bringing the much desired change in the legislation.
This is not the first time that a girl has been violated in India, not in New Delhi least of all. It will not be an exaggeration to say that every single day there is news which reports ill treatment of women, rape, and molestation at the hands of relatives, strangers, and acquaintances. But why is that this particular case been able to garner mass interest and support like none other in the past? There can be many reasons. Firstly, the fact that victim this time has suffered severe physical injuries that can be fatal and that she has been subjected to torture of the kind that can’t be made public as the newspapers claim has had people empathise with her. Secondly, Delhi is the spot of crime yet again. The capital city has already been assigned the title of the” Rape Capital” and this incident has only inflamed the burning rage among the people of the city and the country against the state authorities. The third could be media’s non-stop coverage and follow-up of the case at a level that remains unprecedented especially in a rape case. Another reason for people joining hands yet again could be an example of unity and mood of rebellion set by the “India Against Corruption Movement” that was first of its own kind mass revolution in India.
Embracing the cause of women or any marginalized section of society is undoubtedly a very noble deed. But a cause has to have an agenda, an agenda that lends severity to it, an agenda that forces the authorities to action and any protest or rebellion that looses purpose is nothing but a pretentious outcry. What we saw at India Gate, Vijay Chowk and near the Parliament House at the name of a protest on Sunday was disappointing for many. The people gathered turned hostile and entered into a feud with the policemen who were trying to stop them from marching towards the Parliament House. The chaos created took all the attention away from the noble cause of women security to the berserk crowd causing havoc with police vans, throwing stones at the policemen and damaging the public property. Some of them demanded justice, some wanted to meet the PM, some wanted a representative of the government to come and listen to them, some wanted the rapists to be given death penalty while some others wanted rapes to be stopped at any cost. But little did they realize that violence will never let them achieve their objective. The politicians would not as much come out of their offices fearing the hyper crowd, let alone listen to their plight. Howsoever we may try, the death sentence and justice can only come once the laws have been refined for which the government needs proper provisions to be made, and preventing a rape demands a shift in psychology more than bringing new laws.
One must give credit to the Indians for showing incredible strength of character this time but wouldn’t it be good if we come out with constructive suggestions that would help prevent the crime rather than adopting destructive measures to get our voices heard. Are we not nullifying all our efforts by going over the top with the protests? Have we not started playing the role of protestors rather than protesting in a real sense?
If capital punishment for rape is what we demand than let us flood the government authorities with letters and emails demanding the same. If it is about showing the government that we have reached our saturation point by taking to the streets than let us try to be peaceful in our approach. What we are doing right now will result in keeping the issue in limelight for a while but later all of us will take to our normal routines forgetting all about it. If we really want to bring in a change, let us keep the issue alive till necessary changes in the law are implemented and this doesn’t necessarily require us to leave everything and take to protest. Social Media can be one of our tools to send across our message.
We have lived long in India to let ourselves into a naive belief that a change can come immediately, if we keep protesting loud and long. Be it the death sentence of Kasab (which took its own sweet time) or implementation of the Lok Pal (which is yet to come), the protest alone wasn’t enough to force government into action. While justice was meted at the end in the former, the later still lingers in wilderness. We know not what is going to be the fate of these rapists, but what we know is that any action will be taken when the government is ready for it. We definitely should instigate the authorities to move into action by constant reminders but expecting an overnight shift in the law shouldn’t be the agenda.
However, there can be immediate prevention of the crime but that would require majority of our “very supportive” men and women to unlearn their learning of the position of female in the society and the world but because that is asking for too much, let us for the time being concentrate on protests and candle marches.