Sunday, 25 August 2013

Mumbai Gang rape

Echoing my earlier thoughts on this blog - Is it only me or is everyone feeling this way? I am feeling suffocated with the spate of rapes being reported everyday in the newspapers and TV channels. Has there been a sudden spurt in rapes or is it that, there is an increase in the reporting of the crime?

We make a lot of hue and cry every time a rape is reported but most often, the crime committed i.e the 'rape' is just the symptom of the malaise that is engulfing our society and not the malaise itself.  As I see it, the primary reasons for this ill treatment are as follows:-

1.  Social customs/etiquette at home
2.  Poor depiction of women on TV
3.  Depiction of women as commodities in recent films
4.  Incorrect/Incomplete reporting of incidents in the media

5.  Last but not the least, Internet


1.  Social customs/etiquette at home.   One of the important reasons for this malaise is the typification of Women.  A Woman is expected to behave in a particular manner and a Man (even a boy) is expected to behave in a particular manner.  In a typical household even young boys have more importance than elder women. Naturally, the boys grow with an air of importance over women.  It is surprising that in majority of occassions, it is the mothers who spoon feed this attitude to their children by virtue of their own behaviour.  

They therefore cannot tolerate women who demand an equal footing or treat them on their own terms.  There is a burning desire in them to teach such women (something that is also depicted in many bolly films i.e the hero teaching a lesson to the heroine).

2.     Poor depiction of Women on TV.   The next place where a young boy is exposed to this sort of culture is the TV medium.  It is quite surprising that the even children's TV shows produced in India have only a boy as the super hero (Chota Bheem, Krish etc) with the girl just being his friend. Even though this can brushed off as insignificant, all saas-bahu serials which may have made enormous amount of money to a particular lady may have immensely harmed the image of women portraying them as evil, conniving & wicked.  There are young boys growing up seeing such portrayals which is bound to impress their young minds. 

In addition, the sex scenes are slowly creeping into the TV.  I can keep my kids from going to an 'A' rated film in the theatre but how do i stop them from accidentally watching sex scenes which are part of a serial on TV?   Even in the case of music channels, with top heroines dancing in skimpy clothes to extremely hummable tones, drawing the distinction between sex song and music song is becoming difficult.


3.  Depiction of Women as commodities in recent films -  It was reported earlier that  Bollywood expressed solidarity with the Nirbhaya gang rape victim by carrying out a candle light march.  A few bollywood celebrities have also gone public and expressed their anguish and horror at that and the present gang rape.   

THIS IS A BIG JOKE!!! Because, most of the eve teasing of women is propagated by our main stream heroes (including bollywood and across India)  in the garb of pursuing a woman.  They  relentlessly pursue a girl on screen despite her saying 'NO', then sing songs, eve tease her n her friends, sometimes even slap her (probably to bring her to mother earth) to make her fall in love with them.  

Now the heroes paid in crores, may be wise enough to understand that such actions are meant only for the celluloid but the common man on the street is unable to understand or appreciate such niceties and he only thinks - if amir khan, salman khan, govinda, chiranjeevi or even amitabh bachan (though on screen only) could do it, even i can do it. the unfortunate part is that they try to do it in real life. 

In addition, clever dialogue writers have slipped in terms like "Maal", "Cheez", "item" etc which have become so synonymous for women that some women have started taking pride in being called items!!  The frontline heroines stripping their clothes to near bikinis and simulated love making on screen increase the sexual tension in the air.  

Mr Steve DernĂ© conducted an in-depth analysis of Hindi films during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The study found that Hindi films not only tend to “eroticize” sexual violence but these films often legitimize such violence[1] by showing heroes who use milder forms of sexual violence to gain the affection of heroines. DernĂ© interviewed Indian men on how films shaped their beliefs about romantic relationships and women’s place in society more generally. These interviews confirmed the hypothesis that men at that time idealized submission in women and that that ideal was often supported and even amplified by the images they saw in films. What is notable here is that, by simultaneously legitimizing “mild” sexual aggression by men and idealizing submission in women, these films rob women of their agency.

A more recent study of nine randomly selected Bollywood box-office hits from the late 1990’s reveal that over 40% of sexual scenes included sexual violence [2], and perhaps even more shockingly, nearly 70% of the perpetrators of this violence were the “heroes”. The same study found that while “serious” sexual violence was shown in a negative light – moderate sexual violence, of the sort often perpetrated by the film heroes, was framed as fun. Once again, the narratives of these films serve to rob women of their agency, by treating them as prizes to be won by force.

4.  Incorrect/Incomplete reporting of incidents in the media.   I still feel that media is covering only the sensational part, i.e the reporting of the crime only and not following them up to their logical conclusion.  The media may argue that their duty is only to report the news!! "Point taken" on that but if your duty is to only report the news - then please keep doing it till the end i.e if you report a rape then follow up the news till the time the perpetrators of the crime are punished/or atleast booked by police.   
Dont just report a sensational rape one day and move onto another sensational rape/or other story the next day, leaving us worried about what happpened to the earlier victim.

seriously, do we know what is the status of their cases now?

5.  Internet.   The biggest culprit in current times!!! Can u imagine the kind of sites/blogs/threads that are there!!! and all are free!!! Some may make you hold your head in disbelief but some may make you puke (make your mom r!@#$).  With so much free video, audio and text material available catering to every kind of fantasy one can think of (including rape) - how do we stop young minds from being corrupted.  A classic example - there is one foreign site which depicts foreign women being molested on board trains and buses (in foreign countries).  But to the experienced eye, one can make out that the molestation is staged and that it is actually a sex film. But the ordinary people may feel that they can similarly molest women in india and to prove the point - about last week i came across an indian link depicting "molesting of an indian woman on bus"!!  The situation may be sad but true.

Pornography on internet is assuming dangerous proportions and is slowly destroying the moral fabric of the society.  One would re-collect that even the Nirbhaya rapists also confessed that they saw some blue films on the net/mobile before committing the crime.  That is the effect of these movies on young hot blooded guys.  

But, how do we tackle this particular menace. There is no easy answer.  Britian is probably the first country to ban porn (at least making it out of reach for children) recently.  Still, the devil is in the detail and the availability of technology to enforce the ban would decide how successful the ban is!!!

To counter all the factors listed above and eradicate this malaise, total involvement by all affected parties i.e Parents at home, teachers in school, Govt in controlling all the media, CBSE/NCERT to decide the text books (Imagine, my daughter was asked to make a chart of all cricketers but never asked about our freedom fighters!!!!) etc.  This will ensure that the future generations of children leave the current archaic thoughts on women and sex behind!!  
After all, it is the mind set like one Delhi police commissioner said - "They never heard of rape in the North east!!!"   So, a cultural change can do it!!
But for the immediate present, only Community Guards may be the answer.  Police cannot be present in all the areas all the time.  Rather than blame the police, it may be time to form teams of volunteers in each area.  A friend of mine told me that, during the communal riots a decade ago, volunteer teams in their locality used to patrol the streets to ward off any trouble or to give advance warning of impending trouble.  Whilst recalling such incidents may be unsavoury, learning from that experience may be wise.  What are community guards?

Community guards?
Are they the order of the day? When all else fails, do we retain the right to fend for themselves?. Can we form volunteers in each area of every city (in consultation with local Police of course) to prevent any untoward situation? Look at it this way - how long can we wait for someone to come and make a difference in our area/gully/locality etc?  Can we devote some time towards making our own neighbourhood safer?

If we can do this, there would be no need to spend hours and days in protest, mourning a victim's tragedy and we all can effectively make our neighbourhoods safe for women and children.  This obviously requires a lot of coordination between the residential associations in each locality and in addition to coordination effort, it requires right thinking men to devote time to this particular task. 

Time - as we all understand is the most precious commodity in today's world but we must somehow extract that 'Time' from our busy schedules for this particular task - to make our neighbourhood a safer place for our mothers, sisters and daughters!!! 


(Proud to be Indian)

these are my earlier posts on the subject
security of women and community guards may be accessed here
female foeticide- part 1 may be accessed here

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