Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sense amidst outrage

Over the past few days, the nation erupted in anger over the heinous crime committed in the national capital by a couple of goons on an unfortunate girl. I call her unfortunate because it could have been anyone. With such madmen prowling our streets a disaster was only waiting to happen.

Until now, I tried to keep away from writing about this particular incident. I didn’t want to express my views about this incident because writing about social issues generally ends up being rhetoric. I am neither an elitist nor an activist who would cry hoarse just in order to be heard. I do not like to preach because I know that the people who will be at the receiving end  are already quite harmless, those who are so inclined won’t take much out of it anyways, and those who need it, don’t have access to a platform like internet. Do you really feel that someone like that bus driver could be talked in some sense by anybody? But with the constant media bombardment, I just can’t get the thought of the girl out of my mind.

I won’t RIP her, to show others that I subscribe to her cause or perhaps satisfy my conscience. There was nothing peaceful about her death. There is no point in me lying to myself. I won’t hang my head in shame, because I didn’t do any wrong. I know that I am different from those men, and that knowledge is more comforting than the feeling of shame over what others of my gender end up doing.

To be honest, I do not believe anyone could have imagined the outrage that spontaneously erupted. Perhaps it was the brutality of the crime or the symbolism of it happening to a well-educated girl in the National Capital. However, I do not believe that such an outrage would have been seen if an incident like this happened anywhere else in the country, perhaps a remote town or village.

People, including many celebrities posted on Facebook, Twitter and various blogs demanded how the culprits should be stoned to death, hanged publicly, burnt to death etc. I do not believe in stooping to their level of barbarism for some sense of closure; That’s not punishment, that’s revenge. However, I do hope that these criminals at best get the death sentence and at worst imprisonment for life, so that such bestiality is never allowed to happen on our streets anymore.

That said, I am uncertain what we are taking back from this incident as a society. I am pretty sure that the thousands who gathered at Delhi and faced water cannons and Lathis have been, if they weren’t already, have been sensitised about the trauma that a man’s apparent urge for domination turns out to be for the affected girl. But what of the policemen and lawmakers who come to work with their own set prejudices, who will educate them?

And something, I am still critical of is the sensitisation of the sections of society living in remote closed-off areas or marginalised neighbourhoods of our metros who still find some fault with the girl in this entire episode. When this public enters our liberated cities, they bring with themselves their prejudices and distorted opinions of male supremacy and female subjugation. How, do we educate this class? We cannot wish them away. Perhaps the only possible way is to bring them at par with ourselves, and that is only possible with nationwide women empowerment.

Until these issues get resolved, we can only hope that stronger laws and our collective awakening are able to ward off such incidents in the future.