Posted by Agnivo Niyogi
Originally written by Taslima Nasreen, I have tried to translate her thoughts. Taslima is a well-known writer, secular human rights activist and staunch believer in women’s rights. She was formerly a physician.
Whatever little right the women of the Indian subcontinent enjoy, is due the graceful support and initiatives of men. It was a man who fought for the ban of Sati. Women got the right to enfranchise, thanks to men who wrote the Constitution. There are several good men who relentlessly struggle with the misogynist society to fight for the rights of women, their right to step out of their homes, right to study and work. But the number of such men is limited. A wall separates women from progress and freedom. Albeit there are men who help her cross the barrier, but, men at large pull women down into the abysses of darkness and repression.
I have lived in India for quite some time now and have observed this country very closely. I am forced to stay in India because the “democratically-elected” governments in other nations of this subcontinent do not honour my democratic right to live in their land. A contrast to her neighbours, India has lived up to the democratic tenets that it was founded upon. In every sphere of life, India has shone better than Pakistan or Bangladesh. Why then am I greeted with reports of rape, molestation, murder and other crimes against women, every morning when i open my newspaper? I feel appalled at the complete lack of protests for these horrendous crimes which can only be committed by those devoid of humanity. When petrol or onion prices are hiked, people hit the streets, burn buses to show their anger. Have you ever seen or heard anyone call a Bandh to demand safety of women, to vent out anger against violation of women? To be frank, rape has become a staple diet in our news channels. We have become immune to the horror that these stories can inspire in human beings.
About a fortnight ago, a girl was brutally raped by a gang of six men inside a bus, at a posh locality in Delhi, the National Capital of India. The inhuman bastards did not stop at just sexual assault. They were not satisfied with inserting their penises only. An iron rod was thrust inside her vagina that tore apart her uterine wall and brought out her intestine. The mongrels kept raping her even when her intestine was out at her vagina. In the end, satiated as a pack of wolves is, after devouring the prey, they threw the girl out on the street – stark naked, bleeding – and went about their way back to normal life. The girl had been fighting for her life for the past 11 days and finally departed last night at 3 AM, IST.
They say, Indian society woke up to anger and outrage after this incident. Thousands of school students, girls, men and NGO’s hit the streets across the country to vent their anger against this heinous incident. They demanded the capital punishment for the rapists. If you ask me, hanging is the easiest way out for criminals who rape. The government should be given the more arduous task of a social awakening – sensitise people about the dignity of women, teach them how to treat a human being. From childhood, a kid learns that women are inferior beings, second to the male members of the family. What has the government done to change this mindset?
Oh but we forget, that in schools children are taught to respect all human beings, treat all Indians as brothers and sisters and made to parrot-learn quotes like “Men and women are equal in all rights”. What is the result we have in hand for such an education – a rising number of rape cases, where even little kids, as low as 2 years old, are sexually exploited by even family members. We live in a country that does not count marital rapes as criminal offence. We live in a country where dowry is illegal, but has social sanction. This is proof enough that in this nation, women are treated as lowly, inferior, dumb and do not deserve the right to speak or serve themselves. Women are just sex slaves for men.
Just like product catalogues show purchased items as “SOLD” written across them, married Indian women wear several signs of marriage. It is to let other men know that she is no longer available, and has been taken by her master – the Pati parmeshwar. Yes, women who sport the sindoor and the mangalsutra, affirm that they are just commodities for their husband. Have you seen any man ever wearing any mark to show he is married? Move on to films. Bollywood films sell the idea of commoditisation of women like no other. From zandu balm to Fevicol, women are portrayed as objects of lust, waiting to satiate the carnal desires of men. Half-naked women feature prominently in advertisements meant for shoes or even electronic utensils! Women are not humans, they are just a conglomeration of the perfect boobs, perfect face, perfect hips, perfect legs and perfect meat. Women cannot be scientists, thinkers, educationists, homemakers. Women are destined to be just a piece of meat.
Often we hear the dress of women being blamed for her rape. I am not surprised. Men, in India, are not taught that it is none of their business what women wear, even if they wear the most skimpy outfits or choose to stay naked. Men must learn to control their lust, not the women around them. But men are taught that they are more valiant, men do not cry, men cannot have emotions, men are more muscular, men are not cowards, men can take risks – why even in a cult youth film did the protagonist hero not tell his weeping friend, “Mard Ban. Be a Man”. Truth be told, this chauvinist society rapes the mentality of women more than they assault her physically. Women’s capacity to think freely has been raped, her earnestness to live, her potential to excel, her dreams, her emotions, her aspirations, her existence – all have been raped by this society. Physical wounds can be recovered. What about the ones in the mind?
This has been the tale of human kind since eons. Centuries have passed; we have evolved into “better” animals. Our societies are flourishing, and what better example of progress than the discrimination against a half of the population just because their sexual organs are different? What use of this evolution if men cannot control their carnal desires, their insatiable urge to exercise their “power” over women and derive sadistic pleasure from the same? If evolution results in such traits, i would much rather want extinction of the human species. Have you ever read about gangrapes in the animal kingdom?
Human beings are smart, intelligent and resourceful. We have even decoded the mysteries of Mars, discovered water on moon. But have we been able to achieve peace, equaliy, human rights, fundamental freedom for all on this planet? Have we been able to create a conducive environment for women and men to coexist without violence? Agreed, that men rape because they have higher physical strength. But then, governments are not run by muscular prowess. Our netas need more cunning and grey cells to lead the nation. Men just do not rape. They kill the conscience that keeps a society alive. There is a Sankrit word, Chetana. Lustful, power-greedy men have captivated our collective Chetana, enslaved the future of women at large.
The question that arises then, who will change the society? Of course, they who wield power, they who have given rise to this patriarchal society. What power do the subjugated, repressed, raped, tortured populace hold? We need the protests on the streets of Delhi. We need the women to be there. But we majorly need the powerbrokers to be present there too. We cannot shun the protests and take a high moral ground. Torture will end only when the torturer deems fit. They need to be on the streets for the awakening. Many people here want death for rapists. Yes, indeed. But crimes which are stopped only by deterrent of punishment tend to be futile in the long run. True awakening can come only when we cleanse our mindset.
India is world’s largest democracy, if we consider the population. But does democracy only mean vote-cracy? A democracy honours everyone as equal – be it a man, woman, rich, poor – democracy honous the right to speak, ensures the freedom of expression. Sadly, in India that I see lacks in all of these. In a true democracy, citizens have the right to security. Will a middle-class outrage bring about a Renaissance? No. We need a bigger People’s Movement for that. In this subcontinent, laws are twisted to keep people under check. A revolution of the people will always be killed by the political class of India. We are SO accustomed to discrimination, of all forms, that we have reconciled with it. We treat it as part of our lives. We need a new dictionary to teach us the meaning of fundamental equality for all. Sadly, a majority of Indians do not even know that they are exploited; they think it’s their fate!
Let the public learn. Let the public ponder. And then may be, the public should wake up in anger.
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