Something seems to have changed. Friends and acquaintances have been calling more than ever before, even those friends who had, earlier, seemed indifferent to such issues. I guess they just need to talk. One friend wanted to know if I knew of any protests that she could join. Another friend wondered if they had driven past that same white bus on their way to the airport on the 16th evening, another couldn’t get over the fact that the bus must have passed the road infront of her house. I had not realised the extent of the brutality until one of them told me – the domestic helpers in her area lived in the same slum the rapists did. She, like many others, hasn’t been able to sleep well since then.
When I went for a protest in our neighbourhood, I didn’t expect more than a hundred people, and atleast half of them men and, many young girls with their parents and grand parents. One man asked, “Do you think these protest would help?” I do of course (Though not sure how much.)
Another acquaintance who has always been cautious in giving her opinion said very slowly, “Why just castration? What they did should be done to them.” So I don’t agree with those who think the anger and the protests are not spontaneous.
One elderly acquaintance who always blamed the victim, said she heard on the TV that some countries castrated rapists, and the channel was asking why this could not be done to rapists in India. She still hesitated in giving her own opinion – she seemed amazed that the TV channel made it look like the victim could really not be blamed for “asking to be sexually assaulted”. Times are changing she said, this younger generation of men and women is a different lot. She always thought it was the silly younger women who said silly things like ‘no woman asks to be raped no matter what she wore (etc)’.
Can she be blamed for her hesitation in condemning a rapist? When we hear a lie a million times, in a million ways, from people who we expect to know better, it’s possible to never have the opportunity to take our own doubts seriously. Which is why those who are paid (with our money) to take responsible decisions, should be legally forbidden from making irresponsible statements.
It should not be so easy for those who should be ensuring women’s safety, to avoid taking any action; and to blame, shame and silence the victims.
A lot of Indian women do not even realise that they have a right to feel offended (let alone be outraged) that rapists rape women and are then reassured by our law enforcers and law makers (many of who have charges of rape against themselves) that they did this only because they were provoked by the victim’s clothes or lifestyle.
When they take a crime seriously, they stop doing everything they can to discourage victims from reporting, and they stop making excuses for criminals.
Instead they act, in big ways and small. For the first time they seem interested in providing security to citizens.
Shouldn’t each of them be taught (formally and compulsorily, in an atleast a week long course) that it’s patriarchal-victim-blaming-and-shaming that causes Street Sexual Harassment, and not skirts or sarees? Because like the elderly acquaintance mentioned above, they too have been raised to believe otherwise.
But none of this would really help unless this is taken seriously too :
In the Indian criminal justice system, major crimes are likely to remain unreported; if reported, frequently not registered; if registered, the true perpetrator not found; if found, not prosecuted; if prosecuted, not charged; if charged, usually not convicted; if convicted, frequently not adequately punished. At each crucial stage, the system has enough loopholes and inefficiencies to allow the guilty to walk away with impunity.
Where will these judicial additions – fast-track courts for rape cases, ….. come from when at all times since Independence, a minimum of 25% – often 33% – of the country’s aggregated judicial strength at high court level has been vacant!
That too when that total sanctioned number for a 1.25 billion popu-lation is a mere 850?
The lower judiciary – those who decide rape cases and all other serious crimes – fares no better. At least 25% of such posts are always vacant – and the total sanctioned strength for the whole country is only 15,000!
[Please do read to understand why no other change is possible without this one.]
Five lakh cases in all high courts are over 10 years old. The article also mentions a Madhya Pradesh high court case of 1950, a 1951 case in Patna, a 1955 case in Kolkata and a 1956 case in Rajasthan.