My mother calls me up daily in the evening to know whether I have reached my flat safely from office. When I am travelling in a train or a bus, she is on tenterhooks till I have arrived at my destination and come out of the public transport safely. If I am watching a movie in a theatre at night or attending a birthday treat by a friend, my mother doesn’t sleep till I have called her on reaching my flat later. Though she is miles away from me, her heart and mind is always here with me, no matter where I am. Whether I am in the office or in a shopping mall. Or simply walking on a road to a market or travelling in a bus. She feels anxious and restless and feels satisfied only when I am in front of her at home. And so do a million mothers in India. Their reason for greatest worry stalks the Indian streets and public transports in broad day-light. They fear those hungry pair of lustful eyes that searches for its prey in cities at night time. Thanks a million to rapists. Because of them, women have learned to live a scared life at every place and regard every unknown man with distrustful eyes in the 21st century independent India.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, one woman in every 22 minutes gets raped in India. Delhi has reclaimed the title of being India’s rape capital. It witnessed over 700 rape cases in 2012 which is the highest in last 10 years. In a recent verdict, rapists involved in the 2012 Delhi gang rape case have been sentenced to death. But does this mean that no further rapes will happen in future? Will this verdict serve any purpose to those evil minds that treat women as sexual objects and rip their bodies apart? We think that this critical verdict will send out a strong warning to all rapists. We think that justice has been delivered and so all is well now. But keep reading newspapers and we may end up reading about another rape case in the country.
A rapist can be anybody. A commoner walking behind you on a road or a rich guy in a party. Rapists have their own family. A rapist can be a brother or a son. He can be a father or a husband. He can work in a multinational company or can be a security guard outside a colony. Education doesn’t come into picture here. Literate men commit rape with as much liberty as an uneducated ruffian. There are MLAs and politicians facing rape charges and still ruling our country. There are power hungry men who do it and silence the victim forever with a revolver. Most of the cases report that the woman knew the man and so she opened the door and he raped her. Women have been and will remain to be the vulnerable gender in India. Women are not safe even from acquaintances anymore. And what about the rape cases that have never been reported? What about those woman who have kept their mouths shut for fear of rejection from the society? Their rapists are still at large in the society, happily going on with their work because they are assured that their victim will never expose them. And it becomes a boon for them when victims commit suicide.
We talk rather bravely about how a rape victim must speak out in public. But the society itself has to be blamed when victims decide to go into their own shells forever. Whenever any rape happens, there is an uproar in the media. Journalists leave no stone unturned and take interviews of the victim’s family, friends and neighbours. In a bid to reveal the truth, society pounces on the victim’s privacy and lead to further mental pressure for her. There is a court to deliver justice and a police to do the investigation. But media and society take up the matter into their own hands. We urge such victims to not feel any shame and we-are-with-you lines are hurled at them. But it requires a lot of time, counselling and family support to come out of the tentacles of rape and the resultant injustices wreaked by society. In such a scenario, what about a six-year-old girl allegedly raped by her neighbour? Or what about a seven-year-old girl raped in a toilet on a train? Their innocent minds wouldn’t have even registered what was happening with them. And what about a four-year-old student, who on the pretext of showing magic, was taken to the backseat of a parked school bus and was raped by a school bus cleaner? How to counsel them about such a heinous crime when they have just started their childhoods? How to teach a 5-year-old kid to be on alert round-the-clock and protect herself from rapists that might be lurking in her school yard?
So where the solution lies?
It’s the mindset that needs a drastic change. But for how long do we have to wait before the mindset of rapists changes? 10 years? 50 years? Or the next century perhaps? And how do we change the mindset of a rapist anyway?
Maybe my mother will have to keep bearing with her panic attacks regarding my safety throughout her life. Thanks to the wretched world outside. And then one day, probably I’ll be doing the same thing if I have a daughter in future. And then in turn, she will be doing the same thing if she has a daughter…..…..