The barbaric Delhi gangrape case which has horrified and outraged the whole country has, for once, put the spotlight on rapists– journalists have been thronging the neighbourhoods where the accused lived, with many scribes even traveling to the remote villages the accused hailed from, asking their befuddled, shame-faced relatives whether their son/cousin/nephew shouldn’t be hanged for his crimes. While I do not approve of this brand of journalism, I have to admit I find it somewhat comforting that for once, it is the rapists’ kin flinching under the media glare–serves them right for having raised such murderous, filthy rats ( no offense to rats), says a part of me. Another part, though, feels a little sorry for them, as it is not quite right to blame parents for the actions of their adult children.
Sexual violence is so commonplace in India that most people are inured to its incidence. In any newspaper on any given day, you are likely to find on an average about six sexual crimes reported. What was it about this particular incident that caught hold of the nation’s consciousness and shook it by the shoulders ?
The sheer, sickening brutality of it?
The fact that it was so brazenly, nonchalantly committed, with the criminals being so smugly convinced that they would get away with it?
The horror that we have such beasts amidst us, and that we might be running into them everyday?
That even the moral police, who usually rush to heap all the blame on the victims of sexual violence, could not find any earthly thing to say against this particular victim? The crime took place in a posh, well-lit neighbourhood and not in some dark, shady bylane where ‘women have no business venturing out’. The victim was not even alone–remember Sheila Dixit’s words of wisdom on the murder of a female Delhi journo a few years back, advising young women not to be out and about alone in the night and to refrain from being ‘adventurous’?
That it could so easily have been one of us?
All of the above?
I am not comfortable with some newspapers assigning the unnamed gangrape survivor with a symbolic name– if it is Nirbhaya (fearless) for The Times of India,, it is Amanat (prized possession) for some others. They say that the victim has come to symbolize a movement against sexual violence, and such a symbol deserves a name–but surely the poor girl couldn’t have chosen to become this symbol? Why make a crown out of this terrible tragedy and put it on her head? Besides, does this assigned name really serve any purpose except, perhaps, save some print space?
The other day, I cringed when a female reporter of CNN-IBN was shown asking a thirty- something male protestor at one of those protest rallies in Delhi whether he was there because he was worried for his daughter. ( You expect only men with daughters to be outraged over what has happened, Madam Reporter?) I have no children, the young man retorted–I am not even married. I am here only because I oppose sexual violence and because I believe any civilized country should ensure a violence-free environment for its female citizens. His response was so heartfelt , it made me well up. Perhaps there is hope yet for this godforsaken country.