Monday, January 7, 2013

The Victims are Always Made to Feel Small

Farhan Akhtar wrote an anguished poem on the heinous rape of a young 23 year old girl in a Delhi bus recently -“What is This Country that I Live in?” The girl, returning after a movie along with a male friend, was accosted by six drunken beasts, who decided to play judge and “teach her a lesson for being out at night with a man.” They gang-raped her, brutalized the duo with iron rods, hiding behind tinted windows, and finally hurled them, unconscious, on the road. The young girl lies in a coma, her internal organs in chaos, as a large part of her intestines have been removed to prevent gangrene. As she fights for her life, mammoth protests have been launched across the country by deeply moved citizens, shell-shocked at the tragedy. Three of the accused have been arrested and have confessed to their guilt. “Hang me!” says one fiend. The other pretends that he is ashamed as he has “committed a big crime.” Can they ever fathom the depth of the damage they have caused to a young girl who had just begun life? What guarantee is there that, given a chance, they will not rape again? Take the case of 23 year old Soumya, who was thrown out of a speeding train by a handicapped man, Govindaswamy, who had been arrested twice earlier for sexual assault? He raped her on the tracks, and she died in hospital, six days after the attack. Aruna Shanbaug lies in a vegetative state since 1973, after a ward boy sexually assaulted her. Her life was brutally cut down while the rapist, Sohanlal Walmiki, was convicted, not for rape but for assault and robbery, and did two concurrent 7 year sentences in jail, [painfully short for the rest of us!]. He still struts around as ward boy, his life hardly affected by the grotesque crime he had committed. She exists in limbo, dead to the world! Rapists are cold-blooded criminals, confident that they can get away with the crime. Often they commit multiple rapes before they are caught, according to a study done in Tihar Jail. The victims are always made to feel small by people around them – from the rapist to the cops to the lawyers, who point fingers at their dress, their habits, sometimes even their conduct! They are punished over and over again, having to cope with the trauma of the brutish act, and the stigma of it as well. Where does the common man [read woman] go for justice, when all the worst crimes possible – female foeticide, acid attacks, domestic violence, dowry deaths, incest – are committed against women? A survey done by the Thomson Reuters Foundation reveals that India is fourth in line as far as societal threats to women are concerned, the other three countries being Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan! To add substance to that statistic, 580 girls and women have been sexually assaulted this year in Delhi alone! Opinions vary! Some say the death sentence is too easy for these monsters. Others mention castration, or slow painful torture. Meanwhile, the wheels of justice grind slowly and inexorably, and often, delays punish the innocent and reward the guilty. Why on earth would anyone want to raise children here? The New Indian Express

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