The aftermath of the Amanat rape tragedy (December 16) evoked a plethora of activism against and debates on the continuing rape horror in India. A daring call to change the contemporary system (mainly perceived as the failed system) became a public slogan. People and media after the heart wrenching tragedy treated the poor victim the hero, brave heart and daughter of the nation who practically awakened and mobilised a virtually dead, deeply self-seeking and narcissistic Delhi Public. Anti-Rape laws will definitely improve but will the security measures for women improve and shall the crime against women be controlled and show expected decline is a curious question. Also it is being observed that mass anger, protest and activism has been selective and more regional”.
Amanat’s tragedy was discussed, paraphrased and debated as Swat’s Malala Yousafzai. While some called the tender rape victim the Nation’s hero, a great public mobiliser and cause of a revolution to come. Some perceived the agitation aftermath the brutal incident as the Indian spring even compared her with the Tunisian fruit vendor (Mohammed Bouazizi) whose self immolation had sparked the infamous Arab Spring. Some painted the whole episode gendered and many others prepared poems, wrote commentaries, participated in stand ups, discussions, lit candles, mourned the innocent creatures’ plight, etc,. But the fact remains that we are yet to engage with the psycho-social background and discourses of rape and other crimes against women in a realistic perspective to know actually what causes such situations and how such heinous crimes can be tackled and avoided. Only stringent laws and installing men in uniform in every nook and cranny to stop such an disturbing menace is hardly the solution and the pathetic socio-economic conditions, wretched life of a considerable section of Indian populace , sense of rejection among the poor, psychopathologies, sexual addiction, frustration, declining urban living standard, spreading culture of poverty, increasing moral corruption, culture of abuse, ethical corrosion, defective socialization, lack of education, exposure and gender sensitization need to be discussed in a wider perspective if at all India needs to get rid of this shame and cease to be a rape culture society.
Are we a rape culture?
Yes, we are a rape culture society, even a small dhaba working child’s mother is symbolically raped hundred times a day by one and all, for every one abuses him be it his owner, co-workers or the customers. A rickshaw puller’s sister/daughter is raped 1000 times a day by bikers, four wheeler drivers and passengers by abuse and slurs even for none of the faults of the poor. We are a culture of abuse and rape like words do not seem to be shameful at all. Even the little children get acquainted and socialized with it in their tender age. So the culture of rape is deeply rooted in our society and has taken a status of a normal language especially among the labour and lower class.
Understanding the Amanat Tragedy
The young Para-medical student’s (Amanat, Nirbhaya, Damini-media’s symbolic names of the recent Delhi rape victim) rape and murder indeed shocked the nation and highlighted the tragedy primarily for certain reasons:
1. The kind of incident it was
2. The incredible reporting and coverage of the episode by the media
3. The place of the incident being the national capital.
4. Smart, active and praiseworthy role of Delhi police in nabbing the culprits within days
5. Delhi being a Hub of social and political activists, NGO’s, student unions, etc,.
6. The dramatic and deceptive style of the violent and inhuman incident.
The Amanat’s case despite being heart wrenching has evolved a an extensive debate on the status of female India, legal aspects, security apparatus, sociological discourses of equality and public space for women, etc,. Undoubtedly she has opened a new chapter in the domain of discussing the practical face of egalitarianism, humanity, male-female world, emerging vulnerabilities, concerns, apprehensions, security flaws, policing, parenting, mobility, etc,.
Amanat’s tragedy also explained the horror of rape experienced and perceived by a human being, she enabled us understand that rape must not be treated merely as a crime against women but a crime against humanity for it shakes the conscience of all humanity irrespective of gender. The brutal rape and murder of the innocent girl is an eye opener to those who paint such crimes purely gendered or paraphrase in feministic prism hence misinterpret the whole concept of the gender. It it broomed the dust from certain contested themes on gender violence like modern dress pattern, skirt culture, make up etc,. It is not the dress pattern but spatial vulnerability, criminality, psychology, violent nature, time and opportunity. Had it been only attracting dress, there would not have incidents of rapes of even minors and elderly where a 65 year old woman was raped too.Even incest rapes of daughters by fathers, brothers and other family members. Amanat also make us understand that People’s coming to streets for protests is not the solution in itself but a means for it.
Also to understand the Amanat rape tragedy is not necessarily to narrate the whole episode of Amanat rape and murder case tragedy but the momentum and attention this episode gained even outside India and debates continued for weeks together. Amanat forced us to think upon:
- The need for a rethink of the holistic system
- The call for a change
- The difference between a scuffle between a man and man and a woman and man
- The correlation between sexual offences and the prevailing trend of Women’s objectification, commoditification, presented by the cinema.
- Our transitional and violent nature and lack of exposure
- Our faulty shared value patterns
- The loss of the sense of being
- Culture and Socialization of abuse
On Gang Rape Murder and Public Discourses
Unfortunately much has been discussed on the debates on laws and hanging of the criminals, registration of FIR’s, fast action of police after the incident however very less is being practically thought about whether how to control rape on the spot, how to avoid, how to protect women from such a brutal assaults and victimization, everlasting trauma. Just help lines won’t suffice as offenders may snatch the victim’s mobile phone instantly but what comprehensive and sound mechanism to develop so that rape like vulnerability’s and horror is not created at all round the country. Instead of delving upon the post rape phenomenon we have to control, rape from happening of at all if we really believe in the dignity of our women. It must not happen at all because we have to move from the idea of security to dignity.
Much has been also discussed in debates and columns on the remedial/preventive measures that could perhaps stop alarming rape cases/rates in the country but till date just emphasis on capital punishment and stringent laws has been laid but nothing much satisfying has come out objectively.
Whereas, the positive role of mass media is hailed by one and all to foster gender sensitization as seen in Damini case (Amanat). On the other hand, the role of cinema and women’s objectification and commodification has been highly criticized for representing woman as semi-naked dancing sensation that is being displayed as sex object surrounded by groups of vulgar men especially in the new craze i.e. item numbers. Some writers even demand the legalization of pornography without thinking of the fallouts even? Will pornography protect crime or further aggravate the situation of immorality and sexual aggression, which is debatable but a futile discourse.
Also many news channels kept repeatedly discussing about capital punishment to culprits, some talked of chemical castration and some argued that the rapists be babotized? Although the criminals deserve the worst of the worst punishment but one must keep in mind that even if the anti-rape law id amended now, it will not apply on these human beasts because they committed the horror before the amendment and amendments are hardly retrospective.
Another discussion was on alcohol and drunken state of rapists who crossed limits of brutality while being drunk. Should it be banned once and for all? Yes, most of the ferocious and incest rape incidents occur in drunken cases.
Should we increase police force in the big cities, will that be of any use? No, we cannot afford to make every state a police state in India. Moreover, quantity is not important but aqequate training, administration, regulation, control and proper empowerment of the police is important. Also it is advisable that women police in collaboration with men police be assigned to handle the rape cases and FIR registration must be speedy in all cases.
Lastly, there is hardly a need for rethink on dress pattern in the public sphere as far as the rape is concerned. Yes, decent dress pattern can be a step towards valuing our age old rich ethos and morality.
The Projected Causes and Reality
Sociological inquiry proceeds less through introspection and speculation than through the observation, description, interpretation and analysis of facts says Andre Beteille, a renowned Indian sociologist. It is not correct to conclude that Rape represents the powerless women in the society or the patriarchal system or a means of control over women, for not every man is a rapist. Rape is also not because of the Women’s dependence on men but it is the social and cultural conditions that intensify or perpetuate rape. The causes and reasons for rape are deeply entrenched in our social structure. Rape is a community problem therefore needs community policing along with the all out effort to restore the women’s dignity.
Policing the rape must not be identifying the culprit and nabbing him down to hang, experiences suggest that even after stringent and harsh punishment heinous crimes are still continued. The question is to identify the rape mindset, explore the rape situations and rape atmosphere, which develop the tendency to rape and what prompts them to rape. Studying the cases of rape in a given period a finding some common connection factor about all the cases to be identified for a resolve.
What can be the viable solution?
- Addressing poverty, social exclusion, illiteracy, delinquency and homelessness round the country
- Making policing very active and vibrant by empowerment of police in itself
- Role of secret information and intelligence agencies becomes a must. Every colony, society especially slum areas must be properly studied.
- Every migrant worker working in cities must be registered properly.
- Need for stringent rape legislation is imperative and there must be speedy resolution of cases pending in courts.
- Active women police should handle rape cases in collaboration with the male police so that the formalities are expedited and sense of shame among victims is reduced.
- Children in all schools of the country need education regarding the ill effects and repercussions of eve teasing, stalking, rape, etc, during early classes. Also moral education must be a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
- Child labour has to be checked strictly and culture of poverty has to be eradicated.
- Sense of feel secure psyche in all the big cities has to be restored and here the role of police, community and civil society and youth becomes central.
- Plight of public transport has to be addressed and it has to be made safer, comfortable and secure at any point of time especially in big cities.
- Activism among students has to be boosted so that to revive our rich traditional ethos based on moral values, sacred culture, religiousity and respect for women.
- Free legal aid to rape victims and speedy registration of complaints in case of sexual offences against women.
- Provision of a dignified life for the rape victims to protect suicides in these cases.
- Treatment of rape as the most heinous crime and stringent punishment.
- As suggested by many groups, details of rapists along with their whole bio-data has to be made public and put online so as to create a fear of public shame in such cases. Also if a government employees is found guilty in a rape case, he must be immediately fired, same must apply to private sector also.(as suggested by NDTV panel discussions)
- Women have to avoid submissive nature and fight back, report fast and be extra cautious about their dignity.
Rape is a social problem for it affects all humanity especially all women in different ways besides traumatizing the poor victims. Therefore, now is the time to raise voice against it not only for the post-rape stringent measures but the security question for women round the country to prevent the rape from happening at all. The Amanat Rape and murder tragedy has been reacted by majority of the citizens’ in different ways and role of media especially has been highly appreciating. I wish we as Indian public had equally shown such a fighting sprit for justice for the victims of Kashmir’s Shopian double rape and murder case (2009, Asia & Neelofar),.I wish the public would have been equally concerned and media had equally responded on human rights violations in India’s conflict zones like mass nameless graves in Kashmir, forced disappearances, Dardpora mass rapes, fake encounters in Kashmir. I wish the same public would have protested outside the Rashtrapati Bhawan in the same vigor and human heart like protested in Amanat’s case against the thousands of farmer suicides which were doom spelling (from 1995-2009 there were 240000 and 17368 suicides only in 2009). I wish media and public be equally had been concerned about all the other crimes against humanity like ethnic massacres. I wish public and media would have equally campaigned against Bhopal gas tragedy, Kudankulam, POSCO, Neamgari, illegal mining in Goa, Jaitapur, Narmada, etc., unfortunately public rage in India is short lived and masses readily develop fatigue for agitation and return back to their dens. We need institutions that can deliver and somewhere it is being observed that people have lost credibility in many of the institutions but institutions are always credible, actually it is negative politics and disbelief in everything, which impoverishes the holistic system.