By Ajeet Bharti
Whatever the academic aspects of rapes are, whatever number of papers have been written about it, howsoever strict the punishments have been, assaults on females just keep coming to us every single day. This is not about India or Sudan or Japan as rapes/molestation cases are evenly spread out all around the world.
Earlier, as the UN data suggests, these cases were more visible in industrialised nations, however, this is now a world wide concern.
When we talk of rape, it is not just a forced penetrative sex by a man (or a group of men) but it also encompasses various other kinds of sexual advances towards women from gazing, staring, stalking, molestation, lewd comments, gestures and anything that makes women uncomfortable.
I, as a male and a human being, feel bad, disappointed and shamed because of various events that make this society a hell for women who are victims in one way or the other and all of us who can just feel bad because that’s perhaps all that is in our power.
I read a piece by an American student who explained her story about her stay in India. She blasted away many myths that foreigners have about India by bringing out the crudest forms of words, acts, gestures of sexual connotations that she went through.
Then I also read some comments on the story by other nationals from Germany, Canada, England, France etc. Many of them said that most of those advances/acts are ‘innocent’. They don’t mean any harm.
But is it? It is their perception that they are even considering such acts to be innocent!
Nirbhaya case, Mumbai rape case, Jaipur rape case… Keep adding random name and places and there will be a news on it. It has become so common that it is soon getting the status of default element of a society as the issue of corruption has become.
We, as brothers or fathers, feel enraged when we hear the news that someone commented on our sisters or daughters while she was on her way to school. But where is our sensibility when we hear of a rape?
Ours is a society where females, since birth, are considered and made to believe that they are to be ‘protected’ by their brothers or fathers or the male members of the family. This whole idea is anti women.
Coupled with the repressed sexuality, which somehow makes a male feel challenged about his virility when a girl denies his love proposal, giving birth to emotions which are devastating for him, the girl and the society itself.
Not only the denial becomes a question mark on his so called social status as a male, but otherwise as well when he nurtures some feelings about a girl and is unable to tell. These feelings get repressed. As a result, every single female becomes some sort of a big moving target that he feels compelled to take a shot at!
There are several issues, apart from the individual and social ones, that might be responsible for these heinous acts. There is also a political angle to it. In any democracy, people invest faith in governments to make the state a place fit to live, free to express, and give a decent level of life.
When the state fails to provide education, job, food etc., it starts to fuel the already present individual repression, frustration of rejection, the unsaid/unexpressed desires. These build up a negative side of the individual who is very weak due to various conditions surrounding him and can’t control those resulting in various attempts ranging from stare, gaze, comments to gestures and forced behaviour leading to rape.
To think of elevating the mentality of the society and make it much more freer, is purely romantic. It can’t be done in a day. It takes a conscious effort from the government or policy makers to prepare a generation through education, counselling, behaviour modelling to remove the traces (which are in abundance) of patriarchal thinking and repression that our society as a collective entity ‘suffers’ from.
It is a disease. Patriarchy is central to it. The moment we attain a level of freedom in our thoughts that bequeaths respect for all genders, it will be a happy place to live in.
It is an individual problem which needs a political solution. State is an important component which, if it wills, can drastically reduce it in a period of two-three decades.
The punishment can never be a deterrent. I don’t think anyone doesn’t know that he will be punished for it. You propose anything. You execute murderers, you give life imprisonments but has the trend of murders gone down? No, data suggests otherwise.
So even if you punish that individual, society gains nothing. The victim or the eventual victims remain the same. It is not a solution rather a problem where stagnation of thinking is evident. Society is the victim and just seven years or a life term to the perpetrator is not good enough for a society that suffers.
In a political world, a global village, connected with fibre optics where information reaches everywhere in a jiffy, the society is at loss. It didn’t take a day that someone announced Indian society as ‘Jagadguru’ or the ‘teacher to the world’ and whole world started showing interest.
It took years of learning. It took decades of practicing some norms. It took centuries to perfect our behaviour. And the same has started to give way to decades of witnessing crimes, centuries of being passive to it.
Our culture, once admired (and still by some), is in a negative evolution process. Evolution refines a culture, society in phases of time. But our graph is showing a decline and going to an ebb.
Individually, we can do only as much as regulate our thoughts and try to talk to others about it. It is a process that takes enormous amount of time. And a bigger attempt needs to be taken politically. An individual can not be responsible for educating others. It is a problem of collective conscious. And it needs to be addressed as such.
Till then, no punishment can be a deterrent as punishment rarely does anything positive to the society. You can jail a person, keep him away but that’s no guarantee there won’t be others because the society is still repressed, frustrated with various issues.