Saturday, 12 January 2013

Rape:Responses and reactions

With crimes and atrocities towards women becoming more visible and therefore more focused upon by the media, society at large can no longer feign ignorance regarding it, nor wish it away as being a rarity rather than the norm it has unfortunately become in this overriding patriarchal system we are living in. Good girls versus bad girls is the usual line that gets pitched by ultra conservatives as the analysis of rape, instead of calling it for what it is which is wilful acts of heinous violence and abuse that reek of male power to subjugate and humiliate as a means of self gratifying perverse pleasure. Dis-functionality and mental instability alone does not trigger these acts. Today the culture of abuse is rampant against women and any women who stands up for her self dignity and equality in situations that are offensive to her,  will become fair game to be crushed into silence by a system that has endorsed such acts by not quashing them through punitive methods of justice in fast track courts

Remedial factors to address these areas of sexual violence and crimes against women  that include domestic abuse, paedophilia, rape and incest  must become central to debates that engage with family welfare, educational syllabi, governmental policies for gender issues, police training, health care systems and the judiciary and bring clear directives as to how we bring a sensitised mindset to gender issues. The central and state governments must play pivotal roles in being pro-active and evidence that safety for women is mandatory. The likes of Shiela Dixit lighting candles at the site of an atrocity will do little. What should be done is for an accountability that shoulders responsibility without passing the buck.

What is worrying is to see retrogressive reactions come into play after the increase of focus on rape and women's safety issues. The M.S.University campus management contemplating imposing a curfew of 8 pm to all the residents of the women's hostels is one such stupid example.  We view women from a medieval prism of morality that sees her as an object whose protection lies in keeping her under lock and key! It is outrageous to imagine that in the 21st century that the campus management of the M.S University imposes curfews upon female students that are intended to be the methods that address the issue of sexual harassment. The violation of the basic freedom of an individual appears to have not been even remotely addressed. It is imperative that safety for women must be dealt with in a manner that does not caricature us into being feeble creatures in need of "protection". It is about time that issues of dignity and equality related to gender politics enters the debate. 

Women in India are subjected to having their identity conjoined to a space of belonging that is inherently patriarchal; where their roles are determined by yardsticks that are conventional and conservative. Unfortunately an increasing regressive environment of conservative traditionalism is shaping mindsets in India today, where  pro-choice and empowerment is not a norm that is advocated for women.

Equally disturbing for me is to see protests mushrooming that centre around rape that do little to comprehend the seriousness of the issue,  but which instead  become nonsensical rather childish activities related to the feel good factor that appeases our conscience. Young artists, earnest in their need to "do" something must recognise that political intent cannot be imposed upon anything and everything merely because they are good intentioned,  and that the vehicle of art has to be used appropriately if it is to hold that required potency to provoke discourse and new ideas. There is a fine line that one must be aware of where the enormity of an issue does not get trivialised and become instead celebrated.

We need young volunteers to go into schools across the board and do work-shops and have in-depth conversations that address breaking down stereo-types within gender politics. The rot is deep and nothing can happen overnight.....but the longer we postpone the inevitable which is to address this skewered mindset that produces violence against women and makes them targets of assault, the more effort will be required to refashion  a societal malaise that shouldn't have occurred in the first place!

So lets get real and stop beating around the bush.
Equality is a fundamental constitutional right.
Freedom at midnight was not intended to be the hour of rape.
My body is my personal territory.
Don't imagine it becomes the playground of the perverse.

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