Saturday, December 29, 2012

Not politically galvanized…

As a woman I am devastated that in this age when women are working harder to achieve the unachievable, in areas of education, sports, politics, service sectors, science and technology, they also face routine abuse both mentally and physically. Today a 23-year old medical student lost her life after a thirteen-day battle against physical injuries inflicted on her. She was a girl like any girl next door, who woke up one fine morning, left home to watch a movie, but sadly never returned. She wanted to live like any twenty-three year old youth with aspirations to make it big…someone who wanted to live an exciting life ahead. But her battered body asked her to give-up her fight to live. She was called a gang-rape victim in death. She was severely beaten, gang-raped and thrown out of a moving bus.  Even wild animals are so well-behaved. What has happened to sections of society in my India? How can they commit such insensitive inhumane crimes? 

If I was in India today, perhaps I would also join thousands of people in India who have come out to express their grief for the girl who was sexually assaulted to death. This is not the first time that a girl has been raped in India. These heinous crimes on women happen almost every single day across India. Then, what is different in this crime that has galvanized middle-class citizens across the length and breadth of India, especially the youth, to come out in solidarity to grieve over the death of a braveheart? Let me say it loud and clearly, it is the hope for change. 

Safety of women is an issue all across the world. Sexual assaults happen all across the globe. Every nation has laws to punish the guilty who commit such heinous crimes, and so does India. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) already has strict punishments for rapists, but in spite of having a strong comprehensive code that covers all substantive aspects of criminal law, the time until the guilty are punished is delayed, and justice delayed is justice denied. 

The justice delivery system in India is in bad shape. 30 million cases are still pending in various courts and it takes an average time span of 15 years to get the dispute resolved through court system. This is what is different in India's judiciary from the rest of the developed world. People who commit such heinous crimes are not afraid anymore. In these thirteen days that this girl has been battling in different hospitals at New Delhi and Singapore, none of the leaders gave any assurances to fast-track the case. There was no action plan chalked out by our leaders. Worst, none of them came out to speak to the outraged crowds. It doesn’t take much to speak to people who have been hurt…all it takes is a conscience! 

Apart from this, our society needs to grow up with these changing times. A woman is no longer just a homemaker 24x7, rather she is a career-oriented woman with loads of aspirations. She wants to make it big in today's world. Hence society needs to grow up to this very fact. Women are no longer just mothers, daughters, wives, or sisters...they are independent women of today. And to support their aspirations, the executive, legislative, judiciary, you and me, need to support her by assuring her safety at any time of the day. More so, equal status for women should begin at home. Moms and Dads should instill an equal status for a child whether boy or a girl. 

Even today rape survivors are stigmatized by society. These heinous crimes have unfortunately also driven rape victims to suicide in shame. It is good to see that this one braveheart girl has changed this status-quo. Hope, we will have many women coming out openly to speak about the injustice and atrocities done to them. Media is the reflection of society and not the other way around. Media violence equally poses a threat to public health in as much as it leads to an increase in real-world violence and aggression. I am ashamed at this shame. We talk big about our booming economy, make significant contribution at world economic forums, but, we can’t protect our women.

Whenever I emphasize on the pressing need for women empowerment and her representation in the government, institutions, and corporate world, I am labeled as a radical feminist. So be it. When I talk about the need to do more for women in a predominantly patriarchal society, I don’t mean giving her extra privileges or honor of the quota system at all. It is about giving equal status to women, by assuring her of safety and justice at all times. 

A thumbs up to women who came out in large numbers to grieve over the condition of the girl and demand change, but more so, I salute the men folks who joined the crowds to speak in solidarity for women. Salutations!

Post script
Anna Hazare steered the non-violent movement in India in demand for a strong Lokpal Bill. The Bill may have not been employed, but Hazare has been instrumental in awakening the people of India, especially the youth, to come out on the streets and speak up for their rights.

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