Jul 232012
 

My column in today’s DNA

 

On a slow news day, a girl in Guwahati got molested by a gang of men, who saw nothing wrong in groping, pinching, punching, stripping, feeling up and mauling the victim. In fact, they seemed to take great pleasure in it. A news camera crew captured the act in full gory detail; every nuance of the violence perpetuated on the victim was captured as was every hand movement, every expression; as was the pride and joy shown by the molesters in hearing the helpless girl cry for help. The mob action seemed like a rite of passage – something that got the molesters their official entry into the club of Machismo. They had done it – succeeded in stripping a girl of all her dignity, in public space; in front of cameras and a gawking public. Without censure. Without being stopped. It finally ended half an hour after it started when the police rescued the victim. But, the ordeal did not end with the molestation. The news channel decided to air the tape without masking her face. The footage was uploaded to YouTube and went viral. Mainstream media that had completely ignored theAssamfloods for being unworthy of national airtime went to town with the story.

 

A study conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said that amongst the G20 nations, India, was the hardest country for a woman to live in; worse than Saudi Arabia. In the Danger Poll, also conducted by the same foundation, Indiawas the 4th most dangerous place in the world to be a woman. The first three on that list wereAfghanistan,Somalia andPakistan.India lags behind on every count that matters. It starts with birth. Rather, it starts by terminating birth. The Poll estimated that there are 50 million girls missing because of female foeticide. A 100 million women and girls are trafficked. 44.5% of all women are married off before the age of 18 – it means education comes to a grinding halt, dreams of economic independence remain unfulfilled, and lifelong servitude in a feudal set up beckons. The woman neither knows nor understands rights that she has as an independent citizen of the country. She is relegated to being part of a traditional society – which may have its’ own charms- but has never been woman friendly.

 

Public molestation of a woman is not new. It is to teach her and the men in her family a lesson. ‘Look I am doing this to you and yours – and you are powerless to stop me’. We have grown up hearing about Draupadi and her ordeal. Lost in a game of dice by her husband, dragged out of her chambers by her brother-in law, Dushasan , propositioned in an open court by another brother-in-law Duryodhan, she is told to take off her clothes. When she refuses the ‘vastraharan’ begins. An entire court of ‘Noble’ men stand by and do nothing while a woman is being stripped.. Draupadi was the daughter of a king, wife of another and mother to future kings, dressed modestly and visiting her in-laws. Theoretically it can’t get safer than this, yet none of this prevents her ordeal. It literally takes a deus ex machina to save her. But the story doesn’t end there. Draupadi vows not to tie her hair until it has been washed in the blood of Dushasan. Bhima swears to kill every single Kaurav prince to avenge the assault on Draupadi, to tear open Dushashan’s chest and drink his blood, and to break the thigh of Duryodhan who asked Draupadi to sit on his lap. It takes around fourteen years to fulfil all the vows – but fulfilled they are. Retribution for that act of molestation is bloody, brutal and complete.

 

In a modern world breaking thighs & tearing chests is not allowed nor is personal retribution. So what is the punishment for ‘molestation’? Two years. The men will spend a maximum of two years in prison and probably make bail after a year. The victim on the other hand has been handed a life sentence. What we saw in Guwahati is not new – it is a story mirrored in various cities, towns and villages. It may not happen in front of news cameras but it does happen. And, it happens for only one reason – the perpetuators know they can get away with it .That needs to stop. There needs to be smarter and better policing – surveillance cameras, more manpower on the streets, linked databases.  There need to be time bound trials. Finally, where there is crime, there had better be punishment. Hard jail time. Biting monetary fines. Make the punishment hurt.  Else arm every woman in India with a gun and teach her how to use it.

  9 Responses to “DNA Column – the Ordeal doesn’t end with Molestation”

  1. Time me the moot point is the inactivity of both the bystanders and the tv crew. Proves that we have the likes of Dhritharashtra and ilk who’re too scared to react. Thus Draupadi was left with no option but seek divine help, something we do till date because our country is full of Dhritharashtra types.

  2. The problem of arming a woman in India is that the gun will be seized by her predatory male and turned on her – and possibly on the rest of humanity. A brilliant article written from the heart !

  3. Your point is valid either give all women gun or protect them but a mythical or religious story, I don’t think serve any purpose, especially one in which protaganist bet their women for fun. Problem is in patriarchal indian society and we need to take a modern outlook to solve it.

  4. I think, its time we have a national sex offenders database which is accessible to the general public. The amount of shame that comes with your name and address being displayed at a google search might at least act as some form of deterrent.

  5. I see no harm in arming the ladies. Much easier to explain the presence of a six shooter in your possession than your panty stuffed in your mouth in some isolated dumpyard. All the VIPs have personal licensed guns, I am not sure why citizens shouldn’t be armed, considering that our police have failed to protect our women again and again.

  6. We have also grown up singing and enjoying – “Mohe panghat pe Nandlaal chhed gayo re”

  7. The incident is a shame on our nation. We as a society are collectively responsible and hence collectively guilty of being mute bystanders and armchair critics. Day in and day out, we hear of such atrocities, vent our anger in a few choice expletives , dismiss the news in disgust and move on. We are not outraged enough to insist on speedy implementation of justice.As a first step, without waiting for the police or the courts to punish the culprits, the society-read family and neighbours should disown them-shut the doors on them, don’t provide food or shelter and then see where they get the ‘machismo’ to indulge in such shameful acts.

  8. Sir,
    Please pass the following matter for publishing in the right column.

    I wish DNA investigate the following complaints with the competent authority in Vasai and report it through DNA columns.

    1. Electricity problems. – There has been frequent power cuts.

    2. Water problems – Its only one hour supply daily.

    3. BSNL landline complaints. I called 0250-2332198 to register a complaint, but found nobody is answering the phone. I went to BSNL vasai office at morning 10 and am told that staff will come only by 11.30 and they go field by 1 o’clock only. What a situation. Also, BSNL invoice is received on time for payment and hence the customer has to go their payment office and ask for bill and pay there. Vow, what a wonderful system. Privatization is the best way to improve on efficiency.

    4. Stray dogs problems – They are making roads dirty and causing fear for late evening pedestrians. If the civic body cant catch and eliminate them for the prevailing laws, why not they have different arrangement by catching and nursing them. Dogs should be injected for not infecting if they attack human and also another injection to prevent their production. This way eventually in 3-4 yeas this nuisance will be eliminated for ever.

    5. Roads and other infrastructure developments, bus services, etc.

    6. Reg. adaar (unique id card), in vasai, its still far beyond reach. In vasai, as I understand, there are only two locations. If the government is sincere about its implementation, they should have more centres with adequate staff and equipment and they should work till late evening and also on holidays so that everybody can avail the service. It should be in railway stations, bus stations, shopping malls, residential complexes, etc.

    Hope you do the needful.

    Thanks,

    Govindan Nair

    nairgovindan@hotmail.com
    cell : 8007619818

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