The shameful incident which took place on Sunday night in South Delhi where a medical student was gang raped in a moving bus is now being discussed all over the nation with great anger. The issue was also raised today in Parliament by the Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj. During one of her shows on NDTV, Barkha Dutt emphasized on the societal trauma which rape victims have to go through and she said that instead of shaming the victim, we should start shaming the perpetrators of the crime by referring to the cases not by means of the identity of the girl but by the identity of the man and so I expect everybody to refer to this case as ‘Ram Singh Rape Case’ instead of anything else.
Before we set the ball rolling we need to be clear of a few things. There is no point in relying on the age old rhetoric which says that women have a right to wear what they want, where they go, with whom they go and at what time they go. These are things which have already been established and accepted by law. There cannot even be an iota of compromise in regard to the above mentioned inalienable rights of women. There are some very simple systemic inadequacies due to which such remorseful incidents take place. First, there is an across the board consensus that the law is not as stringent as it should be in cases pertaining to rapes and sexual assaults. There is an urgent need to sanction capital punishment for the perpetrators of such barbarous crimes. Second, we need to ponder over as to what gives a rapist the audacity to do what he does. The answer is simple. The persons who committed the act must have had somewhere in their mind the notion that it was impossible for the police to nab them. This is because Delhi is a city of migrants where people from all corners of the country come. There is no proper regulatory mechanism to monitor and track all the individuals coming into the city. The administration does not know where they live and what work they do. This is the golden administrative loop for a rapist. Commit heinous crimes and then go underground until the matter dies down. It is this anomaly which has to be rectified by means of a well coordinated National Citizen Tracking initiative where the Aadhar card can play a big role. Past experience tells us that such incidents regularly take place in moving vehicles. This mischief can be countered by ‘red lights’. If there is regular flashing of signals on the road (as is the case in Delhi) along with the deployment of no less than two police professionals at every signal then the damage caused due to such incidents can be substantially reduced. A moving bus or car cannot break the signal. All police officials need to do is to be alert and keep an eye.
Another important aspect of rape cases is the respectful resettlement of the innocent girls. No amount of money can do justice to them but still the exchequer should do its bit. Along with this, in order to prevent victims from further turmoil, the government should by means of legislation make it a crime to indulge in any sort of discrimination (including verbal slurs) against a girl on account of her being raped. This will provide rape victims with some relief as rape victims are generally denied employment by misogynists. This nation is also in need of urgent police reforms. Tehelka’s sting operations in Noida effectively proved the misogyny and prejudice carried by our cops (including female ones) in relation to women who go to pubs, wear revealing outfits and roam outside late at night with friends belonging to the opposite sex. I feel that the entrance examinations to services like the police should include subjective questions on the issue of gender equity so that the perspectives of the candidates are clearly brought forth before their appointment and they should be grilled on the same during the interviews. Lastly and most importantly, the bigger question lies in ensuring the overall safety of women in our country. Our country is going through a tumultuous period of time where we are evolving from a feudal agricultural society to an advanced and industrialized one. This is a painstaking journey which breaks the shackles of bigotry and parochialism. Five decades back in the United States, the African American community was referred to by means of a harsh five letter word beginning with the letter ‘N’. That practice has now been nearly finished. No legislation was passed to do so. It’s purely a civilizational achievement brought due to advancement in education and science. I expect the same to bring about a radical change in the attitude of the Indian society in relation to equality of sexes. As far as men are concerned, there is only one piece of advice which I have for them which has been taken from a recent write-up of a girl on Tehelka which says, “My body is mine and you are not allowed to touch it without my permission whoever you are – friend acquaintance or lover.”