The primary concern for women while travelling is safety…. and safety not from terrorist attacks or wild beasts… but from those men who like wolves in sheep’s clothing lie in wait to take advantage of what in their opinion is the ‘weaker sex’. Several women have called me up in the last few months asking if it is safe for them to travel in light of the brutal gang rapes that have been hitting front lines every second day. Unfortunately the only answer I can give them is that there is an equally alarming increase in cases of physical and sexual abuse within the home and family itself, so how is staying at home any safer than going out to explore the world?
A few months back, a young girl who was brutally gang raped in Delhi sparked off an international debate on women’s safety. She was named ‘Nirbhaya’ and then ‘Damini’ in recognition of her brave fight to her painful finish. United States conferred on her the ‘Brave Woman’ award. But the fact remains that she was just another ordinary girl, who was only using her ‘survival instinct’ to fight her own battle in the face of incompetent police surveillance and impotent political vigil. She must have been scared, nervous and extremely miserable as she experienced her body being consumed by the beasts that dwelled within four ordinary men from ordinary families. But, as she lay in hospital breathing her last, society and the media made a Goddess out of her and her sufferings.
Today the ‘Nirbhaya’ judgment has come through and the four accused of rape have been sentenced to death. I can hear the society breathing a sigh of relief that ‘justice’ has been finally granted. But, my mind refuses to rest at this.
You can kill the ‘rapists’, but how do you kill the ‘rape’? What is rape after all? Is it just the legal definition that is thrust on us by Indian Penal Code? Rape is not just of the body, but of the mind and of the spirit.
The cancer of rape attacks a society that has lost its psychological immunity and moral self defense. It spares no one…. it physically attacks the victim, mentally attacks the society and morally attacks the rapists. It is a vicious cycle that will keep repeating itself not as an aberration or a ‘rarest of the rare’ cases but as a rule, till the time humanity accepts defeat or… till the time the root cause of the problem is found out and extracted completely.
Let us as a society start by accepting that each one of us is responsible somewhere for the rapes that are happening and not just put the blame on the police, and government. Let us ask ourselves the most uncomfortable questions and take a long, hard look at the mirror. Men, how many times have you leered at a woman and made her feel uncomfortable…. how many times have you forced your wife and girl friend into submission just because you are physically stronger? Mothers, how many times have you taught your sons that sex is the ultimate act of two lovers coming together and not a animal act of forced consumation ? Wives, how many more affairs will you allow your husbands to have and continue to paint him as the face of the most perfect husband? Media houses, how much more will your channel earn by allowing advertisements that force a woman to disrespect her own body because she is not fair and lovely or slim and sexy. Doctors, how many more female foetuses will you kill before your hands grow tired? Movie directors, when will you stop projecting women as an object of sex and assault as soon as she dons the mini skirt or a low cut blouse?
Cancer starts by attacking one part of the body, but if not contained immediately, it starts spreading to other parts. Then there is only one option left. The entire body has to join forces, suffer the extremities of chemotherapy and give the cancer a tough fight right to the finish. There is no promise of victory, but there is definitely a guarantee of feeling a strength of spirit more powerful than what you have ever felt before irrespective of whether you live or let go.