Why did it need an incident so unspeakably brutal to trigger our outrage?

The harsh truth is rape is not deviant in India; it is rampant, almost culturally sanctioned.

January 9, 2013 in Columns
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THE SURGING outrage at the gangrape of a paramedic in New Delhi this week is welcome and cathartic. But it is also terrifying. There’s a fear that this too shall fade without correctives. But there is also a question we must all face: why did it need an incident so unspeakably brutal to trigger our outrage? What does that say about our collective threshold as a society? Why did hundreds of other stories of rape not suffice to prick our conscience?

The harsh truth is, rape is not deviant in India: it is rampant. The attitude that enables it sits embedded in our brain. Rape is almost culturally sanctioned in India, made possible by crude, unthinking conversations in every strata of society. Conversations that look at crime against women through the prism of women’s responsibility: were they adequately dressed, were they accompanied by a male protector, were they of sterling ‘character’, were they cautious enough.

It’s not just the extreme savagery the young girl suffered that has jolted everyone therefore. Running beneath that is the affront that it could happen at 9.30 pm, while a decently dressed woman was with a male friend, in a well-lit tony south Delhi neighbourhood. This certainly accentuates the impunity that’s set in. But it also lays bare the maddening subtext that blunts our responses at other times. The assumption that rapes later at night, in places more secluded or less privileged, and of women who may be alone or sexily dressed is less worthy of outrage because they feed into two pet ideas India holds: that a woman asks for rape either through her foolishness or promiscuity. In some way or the other, she is fair game.

There are other deep examinations this rape forces on us: what do we consider violence? Does it really need a woman to be tossed out naked on a road with her genitals and intestines ripped up for us to register violence? Why does gangrape horrify us more than mere rape? Why do rapes of Dalit or tribal or Northeastern women not shock the nation into saying “enough is enough”? We do not distinguish between bearable murders and unbearable murders; why does rape come graded in such debasing shade sheets?

Rape is already the most under-reported crime in India. But beneath that courses a whole other universe of violence that is not even acknowledged. It’s not just psychopathic men in a rogue white bus who can be rapists: it’s fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, friends. Almost one in every two women would have a story — perhaps told, perhaps untold — of being groped, molested or raped in the confines of their own homes. If they dare speak of it at all, they are told to bury and bear it. Take it as a part of life. To name an uncle who has been molesting a minor niece would be to shame the family. And marital rape — that stretches the very imagination. It’s a mark of our bestial ideas about women that even judges often suggest that rape survivors marry their rapists to avoid the hell of life as a single woman rejected by society.

There are, therefore, three reckonings this horrific rape forces upon us now. How can India change its endemically diseased mindset about women? How can strong deterrences be built against rape? And how can contact with the police and justice process not be made to feel like a double rape?

Harsher, swifter punitive measures are definitely needed to puncture the idea of immunity that’s built up around rape. Fear of consequence is a powerful tool. But that can be only one aspect of the correctives. What is equally needed is a government-led gender sensitisation blitzkrieg at every level of Indian society: in schools; in anganwadis; in pop culture; in village shows; in the police, legal and judicial fraternity. Even ‘sensitisation’ is too patriarchal a word: what we need is a determined drive towards modernity. Indians have an inherent impatience for process. We prefer the drama of retributions: demands for lynching and capital punishments. Set aside for a moment the larger argument against death penalties, we forget to ask, who will take these cases to a point where judgments can even be handed out?

Earlier this year, TEHELKA published a sting investigation on how senior cops in the National Capital Region think about rape. It made for bone-chilling insights. But there was absolutely no action from the establishment. The argument went that the cops’ attitudes were merely a reflection of the society they came from. Nothing should make us more fearful than that.

Shoma Chaudhury is Managing Editor, Tehelka.


  • Syed Aqib December 21, 2012 - 11:46 am Reply

    India has been using rape as war-tool in Jammu & Kashmir. The individuals and institutions involved must also be punished.

    • Manish Sharma December 21, 2012 - 1:36 pm Reply

      India has tried possibly everything to alienate Kashmir from itself. Okay, I think…. we might still have some more weapons to try.

    • Suresh December 23, 2012 - 11:41 am Reply

      Mr.Pakistan. Do not spread such canards. Isolated incidents happen in war. Milatry court is trying these cases.Look at Pakistan, where there woman are tools.

      • Usman January 4, 2013 - 1:36 am Reply


        Please do better than terming what are everyday occurrences not just in kashmir, but in chhattisgarh and parts of the north east (particularly Manipur), as ‘isolated incidents’ that happen in ‘war’. Armies the world over have used rape as a weapon in war. India is no exception. rather than feeling some kind of sentimental attachment to the armed forces, it is the responsibility of members of the national polity to reflect upon the conduct of the armed forces. that is a more just, and responsible – and if you think those two words to be related to the duty of a citizen of India – then also nationalist job.

        it has been spoken of many a times over now, as to how the Armed Forces (special powers) Act works as a wall of impunity that renders unpunishable many such crimes committed by our armed forces personnel.

        what shoma chowdhary has written about is also a kind of impunity, more prevalent – cultural impunity for rape. this finds its way into our legal codes and their interpretations. the example of judges telling rape survivors to marry rapist is the most clear example of this. as are views of delhi cops exposed by the sting.

        and somewhere it is this outright defensive, arrogant and singularly unreflexive (failure to critique ourselves) attitude that the article hopes to disturb.

        As far as the delhi case goes we have to think – are we reacting to the act of rape, or are we reacting to the act of rape in a south delhi neighbourhood, at 9 30 pm, with a girl who was with a male friend taking public transport. we one thinks that the reaction we are witnessing is to the act of rape then we cant be more wrong. as the article points out there are just so many cases of rape that we dont react to at all. and so many that go unreported. cases of sexual abuse and assault in our families that we choose to ignore.

        as far as the matter of regions where our military calls the shots (including kashmir), to my mind there is no other way but to confront our crimes as crimes if we are interested in looking for a just solution. many times the words ‘just’ and ‘solution’ dont sit well for us because they call forth conflicting sensibilities. i dont connect with kashmir, i am worried about my culpability in what kashmiris are made to suffer day in and day out in my name. the indian army acts in our collective name (mine included). and if i’m concerned about a resolution to the kashmir problem then i have to confess to my culpability in the same. then we can talk, for then we will talk differently – with respect and not out of fear or suspicion of the Other.

        a last comment on the idea that police and army come from within society so its not their doing but society’s collective failure when they commit crimes or turn a blind eye to cases of sexual assault – that the state comes from within society i agree. but the state and its agencies (police, military, etc.) have a special relation with society. in as much as that is true, there needs to be special focus on police/armed forces/judiciary’s gender education, and surety of penalty if members of the state agencies are found guilty of gender bias in their conduct as reflected in not filing FIRs, and in cases like the Delhi Cops’ reprehensible comments on women and rape.

        it is surety of punishment, not necessarily the severity of its form that will result in change.

        • Ajit January 6, 2013 - 12:31 pm Reply

          Usmanji and Syedji – Your sense of justice is quite admirable. It would have been even more admirable if you had spared a moment to mention the plight of the Kashmiri Pandit women as well.

      • Tatahagata January 7, 2013 - 12:31 am Reply

        : ‘Isolated incidents’! Did you say this or am I reading it wrong! Sureshji, kindly check your facts right. And talking about Pakistan, we all know what’s the situation. Women’s condition there is pathetic to say the least. But first let’s look within.

        And what’s your take on Indian Army’s role in the North East, brother? And Central India? Do you even know what happens there? I bet you don’t know!

    • Communal Award December 23, 2012 - 9:25 pm Reply

      2 types of rapes in India.
      Rape is used by BC/SC/ST/MC people to let off their hatred (23 year FC girl is raped by 6 BC/SC/ST/MC men in Delhi)
      1. High Court filed Suo motu case.
      2. Police caught accused within 3 days.
      3. National media and students agitate.
      4. Protestors demand capital punishment for accused.
      5. Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dixit, Manmohan, Shinde visit/assure justice to the victim.
      Rape is used by FORWARD CASTE people to show off their hegemony (16 year SC girl was raped by 12 FC men in Haryana)
      1. High Court didn’t file Suo motu case.
      2. Police didn’t register complaint till victim’s father committed suicide.
      3. International media high-lighted the case.
      4. Only SC/ST people agitated for justice to victim.
      5. Sonia Gandhi, Hooda, Manmohan, Shinde never visited the victim.
      ‘Diverse society (USSR/India) is bound to fail’ –Putnam.
      Caste system seeds hatred among people in India.
      It’s only going to get worse in the future.

    • Balkaran singh December 31, 2012 - 11:02 am Reply

      you are right Syed, if indian system punished the guilt of 1984 sikh genocide,2002 Gujrat, where thousands of helpless women & girls were raped, this thing never happened to this poor girl!! indian public is bias & they are hindu first !! humans after .Hindu media never highlight anything related to minorities .My heart goes to that poor girl !! I solute to her bravery & courage!!! she is victim of 65 years of HINDU rule . They failed to deliver justice. so sad!!!!!

  • Harveen December 21, 2012 - 12:53 pm Reply

    Finally after days of hearing people’s angsts and complains and sudden interest in expressing their anger against such perpetrators- this article brings in a reality check! Very well put.

    • Manish Sharma December 21, 2012 - 1:34 pm Reply

      Absolutely Harveen. You know what the reality is – We are hypocrites, we are a country, a society of hypocrites. We are running the race to win the title of ‘The skunk of the World’. And I think we are going to have the winning celebration within my lifetime.

  • Manish Sharma December 21, 2012 - 1:30 pm Reply

    Brilliant questions asked as ever only not to be answered as usual. I watched the sting operation and I was not surprised. We knew about this. You people only brought it upfront with a firm evidence, that’s all. These police officers would still be doing their daily chores and so called ‘protecting’ the society and its citizens.
    A very right statement made by a girl on a TV show, ‘Putting 5000 more Policemen on roads would only make me feel more unsafe.’

  • j. koothur December 21, 2012 - 2:29 pm Reply

    Thank you for a good analysis. The pity of it all is that most Indians can think of rape as a crime intellectually, but in their private spehere and behaviour it is accepted especially if the rapists cannot be pinpointed in public. Families and friends of the rapists almost never come forward when they know that a crime has been committed and if the rapists is powerful and connected then noone would ofcourse dare to expose the rapists. One can only hope that civil society can keep the pressure up on state and central agencies to change and enact laws and bring about changes in the average person. But if we were to just glance at the records of female infanticide and dowry deaths, and when sexual harassment is still called eve-teasing, it can only be disheartening.

  • pushkar December 21, 2012 - 9:14 pm Reply

    I know many cases where a male child has been molested by young and aged ladies. May be these case are very few but they exist. So please stop debating like .. male are more oppressive .. . These crimes are more against women at this point of time bcs they hold less power in current system and they can be easily targeted. equality of gender will change the statistic but not the crime. We need to build effective mechanism to handle it somehow.

  • Lost in Translation December 22, 2012 - 12:04 am Reply

    wish the emotional outrage matches the action, but that’s going to remain a wish. Anyone remember Bhanwari devi Case ??? or is it a matter of selective amnesia ?

    the knee jerk reaction (appropriate or not ) of police will get stonewalled at judiciary. Legislative forces will amend the bill to strengthen the law but as shoma rightly asked “what do we consider violence”.
    what happens to the culture, the mindset, who changes that ?

    ashamed to be an indian and ashamed not to be able to bring about a change.

  • Rajesh December 22, 2012 - 4:37 pm Reply

    Indian culture is very sexist, oppressive and with full of bigotry and double standard. And we still call it a great culture!!!!!!

  • Simble December 22, 2012 - 5:21 pm Reply

    I am ashamed to be part of such a society where women are nothing but mere sex objects. Its high time to stop talking and start acting. However, its sad that deep inside I know this sudden outburst by the mass will die down and this girl would be like many others who continue living with the trauma while the rapes would continue incessantly.We must take it to a higher level so that we can roam around wearing whatever we wish to, any time of the day.

  • anil December 22, 2012 - 10:42 pm Reply

    why these peoples are silent over sexual harassment of soni sori ?
    why man/the police personal, who was alleged for this crime is awarded with bravery award by president?

  • Roger Mangat December 22, 2012 - 10:44 pm Reply

    This incident shows the depravity of indian males,how ever it also shows the need to change/rewrite the indian penal code,specially the criminal code & more importantly the criminal procedure code.I have been advocating for this since the 1970’s maybe now somebody will think about it collectivly.

  • Ash K. December 23, 2012 - 12:25 am Reply

    Ms. Chaudhury, while we can agree on the need for some deterrence, there is also a susceptibility factor to go over-board by changing the current laws that could have far-reaching negative consequences…False accusations, blackmails. A blanket rule of the law may not work in this case. However, we should have enough cases to comb through to gather historical data, do some analysis to categorize rape types and it’s respective punishment. I’d be interested to know your what you think…perhaps, a blog on this?

  • Punit December 23, 2012 - 11:43 am Reply

    Nothing till change till we implement the police reforms. Remove the police from political interference.

  • suresh December 23, 2012 - 11:53 am Reply

    Unless our leaders and their families or coterie are affected no action can be expected. Common man in India does not exist for the politicians.Our police force is mostly employed to take care of netas.Rape in delhi has been happening for ages.If government has strong determination they would have acted long back. These rapists would be having affliation to some neta or the other.All these cry and noise in parliament is just crocodile tears.
    We need to hang the rapists to really deter future ones.

    Our social system will make the victims pariah once rape is reported.Our country needs a change at inner level. We are wearing masks of non violence,spirituality etc,but simmering inside with all sorts of perversion.We are no where a civilised nation. We are riddled with castes,political parties, too much noise.

    If this is the state of affair we as a nation would be engulfed by maoism soon.

  • Engineer Shareef December 23, 2012 - 3:18 pm Reply

    Sushma swaraj demanded death sentence for rapists. I totally agree with her.
    Being Woman , can Sushma ever demand death sentence to all the 2002′ Rap!sts of Gujarath?

    • Sree Haran January 8, 2013 - 2:06 pm Reply

      Nice question Mr Shareef

  • Binay Mahanta December 23, 2012 - 3:52 pm Reply

    Very good article indeed!!!

    Some ways to improve the current condition of society (I think):
    1. Consider rape as an accident, not a social taboo. The victim must not feel ashamed of it; she must be courageous enough to make the society follow it.
    2. Punish the convict publicly so as to create fear among the would-be rapists and would act as a strong deterrent.
    3. Reform the police act. Divide the police force into two: (a) First group should serve the VIPs (politicians, ministers etc.) (b) Second group should serve the public. There should be no interference from politicians, ministers on this second group. This second group must act under the constitution and report directly to the Loksabha inside the parliament. This group must be answerable to the public as a whole including media, human rights watch, judiciary and the legislative.

  • bharat December 23, 2012 - 7:27 pm Reply

    i am surprised to find you have not blamed or even no so called intelligent medias forget to blame modi and gujarat !!!

  • Philip F Tariang December 23, 2012 - 9:11 pm Reply

    I agree totally with you Harveen on this article. We all need to look deep into ourselves and our society and give women the respect that they deserve irrespective of who they are, how they dress, where they travel or work,…

  • Eswaran December 24, 2012 - 11:11 am Reply

    Yes. Shoma is right. A society ridden with a conglomeration of superstitions and religiosity – not to speak of gender, caste and communal prejudices – is very hard to change. To bring in modernity and civil behaviour in thinking and living is the only answer to this and many other problems. To point a finger at the Government or asking for death penalty or other draconian punishment to the perpetrators, though understandable, is too simplistic a response to the issue. The irony of whole thing is that the so called protests enacted in NCR may include many rapists and potential rapists.

  • Ayan Chatterjee December 24, 2012 - 12:27 pm Reply

    I agree to the point that this particular incident has been in the limelight whereas there are many (reported) incidents which took place post this incident, in the last one week, which didn;t get the warranted attention ( young child at saharsa, 14 yr girl at malda )

    I feel we need to be accosted with this unpleasant truth of Indian society on a Daily basis.

    I suggest major newspapers should carry a daily update (akin to weather) which establishes the Rape statistics. It might be morbid/ghastly but this will tell every citizen in their daily lives that they are still a long way away from true women;s independence. We as a mass tend to forget after some time and this everyday data should rock us every morning and keep our attention on the issue which needs persistent and comprehensive efforts to ameliorate.

    There should also be Rape Clocks (highlighting last one week statistics of crime against women in the city/ state) which should keep the public pressure oin authorities to be alert.

  • Triveni Mehta December 24, 2012 - 11:51 pm Reply

    Why havenot we been able toget our act together yet! Why have we not ! Why have we!The answer lies in the question Why are we not questioned by our parents, our teachers our siblings for the aberrations they see in our behaviour and when they do! Why is not every adult held accountable! Laxity and tolerance for everything anything and the result is Rape, Violence, Corruption!

  • Shubham December 26, 2012 - 10:14 pm Reply

    very well said! It’s actually a shame on our society that we’ve only stood up after this incident. But again, it’s always a small group of people that ever lead changes in a society.
    What we as a democracy shouldn’t forget is that, democracy doesn’t mean finding someone to blame (like the law/law enforcement authorities here), but being more civilized than that. We need to look into ourselves first.

  • Satyajit Kumar December 26, 2012 - 10:47 pm Reply

    Rape is already the most under-reported crime in India.-Agree. Taslima Nasreen puts it well when she tweeted that Media is not interested in RAPE, it is interested in gang rape. The only fear i have is that it will happen again, because in a country where womens/girls morality is defined by how she dressed and the way she walks, it is bound to happen again. This medival mindset will take long time to go….

  • Gaurav Jain December 27, 2012 - 1:59 am Reply

    when the protest had only started to boil,this question crossed my mind. So many horrible n brutal rapes have happened in India, Why this one sent shudders of horrors down the spine of the capital (can I extrapolate it to Nation?) ?
    I guess u analyzed the issue quite justly. And partially answered me by asking more fundamental questions. Thanks

  • Navin Bhardwaj December 27, 2012 - 12:08 pm Reply

    Well Written. Ours is a society like many other traditional society in a severe state of flux. A lot of this change is driven by images from Bollywood or the latest trends on internet. Even though the society is absorbing the change our institutions, like the police, judiciary or the govt are hardly able to keep up with the change. There are two ways of approaching this then. Either we focus on ensuring our institutions catch up quickly with the change or alternatively we try and slow down social change. While embedded interests will resist the former the latter will be severely resisted by those with ‘liberal’ leanings. But a balance must nevertheless be found for us to survive as a civilized society.

  • Mona December 28, 2012 - 2:16 am Reply

    the identity of the perpetrators should be disclosed rather than hiding their faces.Let them feel the shame.

  • Bindu December 28, 2012 - 11:28 am Reply

    Thank you for not mentioning Sri Ram Sena and Bajrang Dal or Modi. I hope the wisdom of sticking with the incident rather than spreading its rays stays with you.
    You are so much more rational when you do so.
    And you deserve to be read and lauded.
    I wish you hadn’t brought in the Dalits and North eastern girls or tribals, because again you are putting together a hierarchy.
    As for ‘activism” I for one am delighted the young PLU’s have joined in. If we stop making them feel like trashy first world copy cats we might give them a sense of belonging to this ‘Our Bharat’ which is at its roots undifferentiated from”Our India”.
    Please stop drawing so many strata and treat the Indian world as a relatively homogeneous if multi layered world.

    • V. Suresh January 1, 2013 - 7:33 pm Reply

      Does that mean that the thugs of the Bajrang Dal & Modi’s goons have the licence to rape and pillage with impunity ? Tehelka has done yeoman service by exposing the atrocities of these goons and indeed I wish that the article had juxtaposed their actions as being no different than the actions of the accused in the Delhi case.

      Somehow, middle class India does not like the crimes of 2002 – sanctioned and protected to various degrees by Modi, Kodnani, Bajrangi Babu etc. – not to be mentioned.

  • rajendra December 29, 2012 - 1:20 am Reply

    I do agree with author’s view.All round apathy at all levels over the years has led to this reprehensible state of affairs.Even now I doubt if society at large shall undertake any positive sustained initiative towards bringing an end to crime against women.

  • Dev Sri December 29, 2012 - 2:45 am Reply

    Dear Shoma
    Thanks for your well written article. I wish to add a few comments. Our whole family is deeply distressed with this rape.
    It took the nation an extremely gruesome descration of a woman’s body to come together and examine its collective conscience as to where the nation stands with regards to rape. This rape uncovers the simmering cultural tension in the underbelly of a ‘surging India’. Progress economically does not always translate into cultural progress. This is a prime example. A women out to a movie with an escort is brutally raped in the capital of 21st century India.
    As usual, its been the youth who have been at the forefront of the protests. Our political class seemed to have lost the plot in the immediate aftermath.
    If we are to be seen as a progressive civilised country, the country needs a period of collective contemplation as to how we see the role of women in society. Its not necessary to follow the western model but we must have a model of our own which is ‘ fair and just ‘ to women.
    This has to start with education and empowerment of woman. Here in the UK, this has happened in the post war years. In the 60s, women usually went into teaching,banks or hospitals but today women have acquired significant leadership roles in all spheres of activity. So this is possible in one generation in India too.
    There is no point in only pushing for tougher laws as the people who promulgate and enforce these laws first need sensitisation. Whether this sensitisation is done with tough love or self appraisal would be best left to our policy makers.Also punishing these 6 guys will not solve the problem. A deeper systemic analysis and action needs to be taken. The instruments of the state for doing these are already available-the public mood needs to be sustained in forcing through these changes through the political system.
    I do not think anyone remembers Aruna Shanbhag who was brutally raped in KEM Hospital in 1973 and left in a vegetative state till 2011 when on her behalf their was a petition for mercy killing. This is to remind us that this is not the first gruesome case in our chequered history.
    So let us not let our flame of righteousness die before the necessities and ‘practicalities’ of earning our living. We need to continue our protests for a more fair and just society.
    Jai Hind

  • Searchenginekidd December 29, 2012 - 10:24 am Reply

    My heart hurts hearing about crimes against women
    especially rape. I thank you for the information and I
    sit here trying to figure out how to turn this uneasiness
    into a way to help.

  • Abdul Naser December 29, 2012 - 6:03 pm Reply

    What happened it is horrible, sad and shame on the humanity. But by protesting or blaming Sheela Dixit or someone or punishing these criminal rapists will ever stop the epidemic of rape?. There are more steps to be taken. We should prepare a society with moral values and educate our generation not just more money making. Our film industry or advertising industry should do more to build a responsible and humanity filled society than depicting women as a tool. Every should know a women is a mother ,a sister or daughter or a wife who are equally pillar strength for a society.

  • Munthasir December 29, 2012 - 9:09 pm Reply

    Hope of change in indian cultural mindset is jus’ a pipe dream ! While this sensational case is being given all attention in national media there have been several reports of incidence of rape in Suburban delhi as well as length & breadth of INDIA. Tamil Nadu alone has seen 4 cases of gang rape in 2 weeks.

    i’m not pessimistic rather realistic. We as a nation , the most hypocritical. If we are conservative society, hinging all hopes on values, morals , ethics then we have to walk the talk. But our morality is only collective and no efforts are taken to lead life of righteous.

    We are promiscous but pretend that we are the beacon of righteousness. We are debauch while we claims to be celibate. We know even sages of this country isn’t worthy of trust, but we think our own ‘swami’ is an exception.

    I guess we have to ask hard question to our ownselves, before expecting any collective catharasis to come out of this incident. It is jus’ Media – hyped news piece making nirbhaya , martyt.

  • Ravish Ganesan December 30, 2012 - 12:05 am Reply

    Thought-provoking article. Politicians have taken the country to the dogs. India is beset with so many other crimes thanks largely to the ineffective law and order machinery, corrupt authorities, political interference in every system, and lack of expeditious judicial mechanism. Rape, incest, child labor, female infanticide, human trafficking, from-birth-to-death corruption, dowry harassment and bride burning, etc are rampant in India. A people’s movement, much on the lines of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption and the happening one on the India’s darling daughter Damini, are called for to bring about a change for the better. The media are appreciably playing a wonderful role today in highlighting these crimes and galvanizing people into action.

  • r December 30, 2012 - 12:08 am Reply

    It is everyone’s responsibility to not let this revolution die, not for the girl, but for you, your daughter, your family. Actions are required not only from govt but from each one of us.. we can not make laws but can do our bit. Let’s resolve not to be mere spectators of street eve teasing, to support anyone protesting it, not to shy away from our responsibility to help a girl whether related or not… bit of action from each one of us can prevent such dreadful crimes.. That being said, stringent laws is need of hour that would give courage to people to speak up and stand up against the culprits… govt, police, public – let’s take collective responsibility and decide how we want our future, our country’s future to look like..

  • Shiela December 30, 2012 - 4:03 am Reply

    ‘The harsh truth is, rape is not deviant in India: it is rampant.’ If this statement is true, then Indian woman should seek to emigrate. Adoption by foreigners of Indian female babies should be encouraged. Also more all female communities- on the pattern of female only shopping malls in Saudi Arabia- should be created.
    Clearly, it is impossible for us to change the attitudes of people in a big country like India- had it been possible we would have already done so while fixing other social problems like chewing paan and spitting all over the place.

    Why has this particular atrocity created such a furore? True, People living in big Cities like to run amok from time to time. It could be a cartoon in a Danish newspaper, it could be the demand for free elections, or it could be because some low IQ petty criminals did what low IQ petty criminals the world over do if they get the chance. In the case of New Delhi, the perception is that the Prime Minister is in a coma of some sort and perhaps people are trying to wake him up.

    However, one area of inquiry- what are the triggers for the young petty criminals in our Cities which cause them to cross violence thresholds? Why did these low I.Q thugs not kill the 2 male victims or at least anally violate them? Why did the girl get worse treatment. It may be the girl put up a more spirited resistance whereas Indian males, in big Cities, may be more willing to offer appeasement gestures after realizing they are out-matched.
    Males do get anally violated quite a lot- but generally, for Indians, this is a punishment for stealing or something of that sort. There was a case of some Indian students in Australia recently. They suspected a flat-mate of being a thief and immediately started putting things up his anus just as though they were bona fide policemen.

    ‘Even ‘sensitisation’ is too patriarchal a word: what we need is a determined drive towards modernity.’ The reason is that if a word is too patriarchal then it is not what is needed. However a ‘determined drive towards modernity’ is good not just for fighting rape but also many other things for e.g. getting rid of stubborn stains and doing the kids’ Hindi homework.

  • V. Suresh January 1, 2013 - 7:38 pm Reply

    Talking of changing the mindsets of Indian men is wishful thinking in the short run, difficult to attain in the long run. The very vocabulary that many men, even educated ones use at the workplace when speaking Hindi or Punjabi is rife with such tremendously misogynistic swear words insulting women & motherhood.

    As someone resident in Europe, I have worked with Indian software professionals and have had to put my foot down on this incessant swearing in the presence of women by insisting on the usage of English at work. Whilst doing freelance interpretation work in Norway, I often translated for schools, courts, hospitals etc. for people from India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka. During several parent teacher meetings for kids, schools were concerned that even 5-7 year old boys swore a lot, using the filthiest of Punjabi & Hindi phrases. Clearly, these came from fathers – and some schools did try to communicate to parents that they should be less verbally abusive in the presence of kids.

    Teaching the male child not to swear at women would certainly be a good start.

  • Bhooma January 2, 2013 - 3:01 pm Reply

    In the last few weeks, much has been said and written about violence against women. The suggested solutions have been sweeping – from policing the roads to sensitizing men against gender violence.
    Do we really believe violence against women can be stopped? To prey on the weak, be it women, young or the elderly has been a good part of human behaviour for time immemorial. To have it stopped, means each individual adheres to a set of human values, the expectation of itself appears to be naive. This becomes apparent, when newspapers decrying violence in the first page, carry pictures of scantily dressed actresses in their entertainment sections. Objectifying women is business. Reporting mass sentiments also is business. The number of stories carried on rape by the media, in the last three weeks can mean only two things – the incidents have sky rocketed since the Delhi incident or reporting has increased because it is newsworthy.
    Why has this incident touched us all personally? I think because it is brutal, it happened in a metro and to a person who by most standards did not have an “adventurous” or “at risk” behaviour. Those terms can mean a variety of things depending on the user – dressing provocatively, being out alone late at night, getting into a vehicle with men, so on and so forth. We thought women were safe if they wore conservative clothes, stuck to crowded areas and took public transport. Not so, apparently. The outrage is not really for what happened but for what would happen next. The apathetic half hearted work by the police, a long drawn out case by the courts at the end of which the convict (if he is convicted, at all) would have spent atleast 60% of the time in prison pre-trial which would be set off against his sentence and in all probability he would walk in 1-2 year time, leaving a family devastated by the loss and too tired to enjoy vindication. The outrage is a manifestation of the fatigue over an apparent break down of law and order and an absolute lack of faith in the judicial system.
    The minimum expectation of every citizen of this country is if such crimes cannot be completely stopped, at the very least the victims should be treated with empathy, the perpetrators caught and if redressal is impossible, then, at the very least swift retribution happens.

  • Akshay Tiwari January 3, 2013 - 9:12 pm Reply

    The culture that has evolved over years of female abuse is as much to blame as the govt. for not taking adequate preventing measures and delay or in most cases no conviction of the accused ! The most disturbing is the police, the protectors are feared more by the innocent than the guilty !

  • Tanuja Pawar January 4, 2013 - 11:02 am Reply

    Now, this is a time to modify our law and make a new and strong law which give justice to the rape victim and such harder punishment to the accused in speedy way. Not only the making a new law but also implementation of punishment in such way that it will create fear and deterrent effect in the mind of person that not to do this cruel act. Anyone who rapes then why can’t show there faces, identity in front of media, public. They not only raped her but killed her by giving terrific and horrible pain. It is shameless to us as a human being. I think animals are much better than us. Court has to take action and give justice to her by giving harder punishment irrespective of their age and set an example in our society.

  • Tushara Shankar January 7, 2013 - 12:51 pm Reply

    Its not true that other rapes were getting less importance. Its just that those cases looked either distant (for those happening in northeast, tribal areas), circumstances were different (mostly secluded places, wee hours of the night). In this particular case, the whole feeling of “It could happen to me/my near and dear ones” came out very strongly. This was so much beyond imagination for any one of us.

    Despite all the horror stories of the city being unsafe for women, till last year going out alone in an auto rickshaw for a party ‘dented and painted and wearing finery’ was a done thing for me. Now I, a 31 year old working professional (mother of a 2 year old girl) am scared after this case. I can relate to it. I would prefer to go out in my car with husband/relatives/friends, but definitely not alone, especially in a public transport.

  • Bindu Tandon January 7, 2013 - 5:11 pm Reply

    So much venting, most justified no doubt. Q. What have I done differently in the last 10 days to tackle the menace. My answer. Nothing. What is yours?
    1. Do out someone you know first hand. I can give a name of an uncle who misbehaved when I was 16. This after 38 yrs. of the event. Raj Narain. There I did it.
    Can you do even this much?
    Yes you can.

  • Sandesh January 8, 2013 - 10:35 am Reply

    Similar campaign is needed for Gujarat Riot Rape victims. Plain hypocrisy, that BJP is protesting the Delhi rape.

  • rajesh khanna April 4, 2013 - 2:24 pm Reply

    why u intellectuals don’t realize that the problem is one of greed…greed for sex (lust)…and it is one of the basic instincts. The real solution would be to legalize prostitution.

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