How to stop the rapes - Written in a fit of anger
Discussions are afoot from the parliament to pavement side chai stalls about how to make the existing laws even stronger and set up fast-track courts etc. to curb the incidents of rape. And how many of us are crying out loud “Hang the bast**ds”!
The nation’s TV channels, social networking sites are bursting with anger and sorrow and fear over the rape of the 23 year old medical student in Delhi. The news bits have a very wide appeal! But where is the real deal?
What really bothers me is the fact that, our civic system is painfully ineffective to stop or deter such crimes! Fresh cases of rapes, molestation, abduction, child abuse have been surfacing every day.
So, lets call the Gulabi Gang!
Who are they?
It’s a group of women and men who beat the sh*t out of those that torture women.
They are fast. They solve cases in matter of a few hours. I have seen them working round the clock surviving on a few rotis and a little chokha (mashed potato) or achaar in the villages of Bundelkhand – a grossly under-developed forested territory between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Also, they come with their own costumes – pink sarees for women, pink stoles draped around the male members’ necks. Pink means Gulabi in Hindi. They even carry their own weapon – the lathis. They are lean and fit – the perfect mean machines to move in the sun or run after abusers of women.
Sisters in my country, now compare that with the constable in your locality. Sleepy–eyed, pot- bellied, or too high and mighty to patrol the area.
Get the picture?
I make a humble appeal to the Government of India; if not for anything else, call Gulabi Gang because they are cheap! You don’t even have to buy them the lathis. None of the allies, perhaps, will threaten to pull out if only you can blame it on the recession, or, on the “vote politics” as most of the Gang members are from the down-trodden dalit communities.
Much better than maintaining that elephant of a police department (no?) which moves too slow, if not poked with a spike, and consumes too much?
But I am in a mood for introspection, and I am in two minds. Why criticize only the administration? Look around and you can see how a girl is put down by her own people. I grew up in an atmosphere where this was an everyday reality. The seeds of discrimination are sown in homes. As I write, I reckon somewhere some girl is having trouble this very minute, coming to terms with people around her. We, as grown up “independent” women are perpetually at the risk of being judged. “Someone called me a whore”, said once a dear friend. The traumatized girl had dared to turn down advances of a man she had liked, once. I shudder to imagine what other forms of bullying the growing girls, the grown women have to face daily in the suburbs, or in the distant villages where the pressure to toe the line is even stronger. And exactly how often do we hear the B word spoken even by women in utter nonchalance?
When it comes to maltreatment of women, these days, I cannot help but look inward. The erosion of social values runs deep. So, even as women we become agents of patriarchy. Probably, we should watch a little more, as to where we stand. As women of 21st century, do we like all the perks of feminism – suffrage, right to self-determination, increased earning, right to abortion; BUT shy away from the responsibilities? The responsibility of giving due respect to each other and not question a woman’s clothing choice or life style when she is violated? In my state, West Bengal, an Anglo Indian woman was raped at gun point in Kolkata – better known as the “Park Street rape case”. Questions were raised on the moral character of the victim, by people in the government, even before the investigation could be finished. Sadly, this government is helmed by Mamata Banerjee - a female Chief Minister.
Point is, as much as the rapists are responsible for their heinous act, the society is responsible for its inane attitude towards women and so is the state for its lack of efficacy to deal with gender crimes. There is room for introspection and change. For both.
It will take decades after, painful decades, before a real change occurs. And here comes the need for a sorority like Gulabi Gang. Before you trash this as over-simplification, pray, hear me out.
They have handled some thousands of cases of rape, domestic abuse, dowry, child marriage. How? By beating. To quote Sampat Pal Devi – the founder and leader of Gulabi Gang, “Law and order don’t work here in these villages”. “The officials are corrupt and take bribe. I don’t believe in taking our problems to the court. The cases drag on”. “And when even police and court fails, a sound beating always works”. I want to ask is today Delhi or Kolkata very different from Bundelkhand?
Apart from acting as a deterrent to the crimes, the Gang has been able to establish among women that – silence will only make their misery worse. Previously, perpetrators in the area thought a girl would keep quiet. Now it’s changed. The Gang has attacked at the culture of silence in its core. When the society doesn't listen, by all means, SHOUT! Instil the fear of rod, err, God, if nothing else works, for the time being.