The Delhi Rape: Some Thoughts

Written by  //  December 19, 2012  //  Economic & Social Policy  //  2 Comments

I thought I had been sufficiently shocked hearing of the horrendous rape of the young woman on the Delhi bus. But the responses and actions by the government and those in power have shocked me even more. Not a single person whom I’ve heard in the last 24 hours has been willing to stand up and show some firm determination to take on and weed out crimes against women.

The Prime Minister, with whom my patience is running thin, carried on his near-perfect mime act on issues of any significance to the country and has directed the Home Minister to ensure that such issues do not recur. But is this the time for maintaining jurisdictional sanctity? Can the Prime Minister not for once be the leader that he is meant to be and say that he himself will not sign any files till he sees a concrete, multi-pronged, multi-ministerial action plan placed in front of him? Why can he not take a dramatic, leader-like action that will indicate how serious he actually is about crimes against women? Instead of expressing meaningless platitudes like “It is a heinous crime. It is very upsetting” he can actually do something about it. He is after all not a third-grade poet who is meant to ponder prosaically when an incident such as this happens. He is the Prime Minister of India for God’s sake.

And what about Sonia Gandhi, President of the Congress Party, arguably the most powerful person in the country. From all accounts, she has merely written to the Delhi Chief Minister and the Union Home Minister asking for immediate corrective and remedial action. And I am certain she will be using all her authority to ensure that these happen. But why not make all her actions public? Why not make a statement in Parliament inviting suggestions from all parties on concrete steps to be taken to prevent such recurrence? Why not stand up like a true leader and make this a cause that is worth fighting for? If not moral conscience, smart politics would demand this, and that’s an area in which she has certainly not been found lacking till date.

And what about the Home Minister? Like a true former policeman which he is proud of being, he suggested that not having tinted glasses in buses, along with a few other equally naive, myopic, short-run ideas was the grand solution. Now I don’t mean to sound impolite, but as my English teacher in school used to say, “We know you’re stupid. Don’t advertise.” Instead of taking silly knee-jerk measures, why does he not convene several public meetings where he can discern views from the people, from the women who have to use public transport in Delhi and women in other cities, towns and villages as to the problems they face and what solutions they think would work? And then why does he not sit with his ministerial colleagues from Law, HRD, Women and Child Development, Transport and come up with a basket of measures, short and long run, which will actually be the product of intensive and collective thinking rather than the output of a pea-sized brain of some ministerial official, or worse still, his own?

And what about us citizens? Gender sensitisation begins at home. We can ensure that the people around us respect women as equal citizens of the country, and by that I mean both men and women. Strive for more equal relationships within our families. Educate the girl child and make that our personal priorities. And educate the male child about the importance of women and the equal respect that they deserve. And as men, to not lech, stare, touch or molest as if it’s just okay. Pick up any one issue that concerns women and make it our own. And realise that this is not a women’s issue. It’s an issue that is at the heart of what India as a nation stands for. Because a country which cannot make its women and children feel safe is no country at all. It’s a hell-hole.

One final thought. Tomorrow the results of the Gujarat elections come out. If the media is really serious about the issue of rape and women’s security as they have claimed to be in the last 24 hours, I hope that at least one, or some of them give equal time to the woman, her struggle for her life, and how we as a nation can make India safe for our women, as they give to Narendra Modi and the self-anointed panel of psephologists analysing how the state of Gujarat is voting. Because the ascent of a new political leader or the continuance of an old one in one of 28 states in the country cannot be as important as the lives of our women. Because instead of trying to analyse hidden trends and discover complex patterns, they could do much better by grasping and responding to a simple realisation that’s staring them in the face: That crimes agains women can no longer be tolerated. The Munirka bus rape is the straw that has broken the camel’s back.

Knowing India, I doubt this or any of this will happen. We will forget. Because forgetting and moving on is what we’re best at doing.

About the Author

Arghya is currently doing the doctorate in law at the University of Oxford. Dithering between academia and litigation for a future career but sanguine in Oxford with his current researcher status.

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2 Comments on "The Delhi Rape: Some Thoughts"

  1. Bhaskar December 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm ·

    What was also upsetting was the way in which people think solidarity ought to be given to the rape victim. Facebook status updates are particularly depressing: Cut off their balls, stick a pole up their ass, hang them till death etc. etc. Hundreds of likes!

    And these are the same people who posted other status messages about how ‘easy’ white women are, just a few months ago. Also with hundreds of likes.

    It’s just depressing.

  2. hellgangsta December 22, 2012 at 3:20 am ·

    Gender sensitisation begins at home. Ahem!

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