Its been a little over a year now that the nation reeled under the ‘Nirbhaya‘ wave. However, this is not to say that there have been crimes any lesser before that or even after. Innocent women getting raped when they go about their ‘normal’ day is horrendous enough; but what would you make of something like this? In a city like Bangalore? Where population is exploding and there are no clear ‘peak’ times- which means Bangalore is almost always busy.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, …all the way upto 65+ are the ages of girls and women getting raped in this country. This is exclusive of all the unreported incidents of incest and sexual assaults by men in the family. And oh, we aren’t even talking about eve-teasing and the ‘accidental’ jostling here and there.

What. exactly. is. going. wrong?

The ‘Nirbhaya’ incident invoked a lot of hidden anguish and anger from the masses. Social media screamed opinions and solutions. A generally well-received viewpoint was “rape is less about sexuality and more about power”. Well, it beats me how somebody can get the kick out of ‘establishing ascendance’ over a 2-year-old? A 2-year-old, for God’s sake!!!!

Where have we begun to lose it? I sit here, unable to sleep after reading that account, pondering over what has started the rut? And why is it spreading unfettered?

Do we, as a society, sow the seeds of entitlement in the male? (Read here to know how movies play an important part in planting these seeds)
When I read stories from mythology to my children, I see some abrupt stories which typically run like this- A young couple happily married, one fine day the husband spots a beautiful damsel, starts dreaming about her, he expresses his desire to his wife, she ungrudgingly puts her husband’s happiness before her need for self-respect and prays for his happiness, happily accepts his second marriage; and all is well till he spots a third damsel….

The typical fairy tale goes like this- damsel in distress, mistreated by step-mother/aunt/witch/whoever but all her miseries melt away when she is lucky enough to be discovered by her “knight in shining armor’…

Do we, as a society, nurture this culture of ‘blame and shame’ on the girl?
It is not uncommon for a girl to be reprimanded for being “too open”, “open” enough to allow herself to be molested by a male of the family. She has merely ‘attracted’ them, like moths to the fire. In many cases, even though it is known that a male member has molested another woman, it is dismissed as a “natural” reaction. “Nature” intended him to be like that.

Do we, as a society, nurture the culture of shaming the woman’s body?
‘Hey, you! You don’t have a perfect body anyway so just shut up and be grateful for what you get’.

Do we, as a society, nurture the belief that women are a burden to us.
It is no mean fact that the female infanticide phenomenon is a separate research topic by itself from the psychological, social, economic, public policy perspectives…

Do we, as a society encourage commodification of girls and women by silently and implicitly agreeing to insane amounts of dowry?

Do we, as a society stand mute spectators to child and women trafficking only because it brings a tinkle into the pockets of a few?

Do we, as a society tolerate domestic violence because it is not ‘appropriate’ for a woman to voice her thoughts?

Do we, as a society stand morally upright but make our movies multi-crore hits based on one ‘item’ song?

Let me make it clear that I DO NOT take a feminist stance in any of my rantings. I am happy being a woman, happy being only the secondary bread-winner for my family and do not regret having to compromise on my career goals for the bigger responsibility and joy that are my children and family. I believe that just like their bodies are different, men and women have brains wired differently, leading to different goals and sources of satisfaction for them. I also believe in segregation of duties for any establishment to run. It is no different for a home. Hence, I do not totally endorse the “equality for women” slogan where women have to assert their equal status only through aggressive career paths or late night pubbing. I believe that real equality for women is when she is comfortable in her own skin, when she is not being constantly compared to her male counterpart, when she is respected for the value she brings- within or outside her home, when she is not left feeling powerless because she has not ‘serviced’ somebody…

My rantings come from a position of utter dismay and disappointment. My heart bleeds for the child in this incident, but my eyes only shed copious tears. Where have we gone wrong? And how do we fix it? And why are our children paying the price?

Where, oh, where, do we begin?


This article was published in Citizen Matters.