Hinduism is the dominant religion in India and when one speaks about Indian traditions and customs, it is the Hindu tradition that comes to the fore. Ironically, when one speaks about the butchery of Indian culture, it is again Hinduism that comes to the fore.
The BBC documentary, “India’s Daughter” was an eye-opener on many levels. As I watched it, a range of emotions cruised through me – there was admiration, awe, disgust and anger. Admiration for Jyothi’s parents who did not see their daughter as a lesser being than their sons, awe for Jyothi who had such high ideals and aspirations, disgust towards the perpetrators and their accomplices (their defence lawyers) and anger that India as a country just refuses to learn from past mistakes. Over three decades ago, the nation was shaken by the spine-chilling rape and murder of Geeta Chopra by two criminals Ranga and Billa, who were later given the death sentence.
The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi thought that by doing so a strong message was being sent out – but did that hanging stop the rapes of girls and women in India? Female foeticide is still a stark truth!It had to take something as brutal as what happened to Jyothi for the nation to get back on its feet and protest. But then I wonder for how long will these burning embers remain smouldering? Will the nation go about its business again till something as brutal or more brutal happens? It is said that India lives in her villages – if that is true have we as a nation looked at the plight of the female populace in the villages of India?
India is supposedly a God-fearing nation and we have abundant festivals that celebrate the victory of Good over Evil. We take great pride in our cultural heritage, but are we truly aware of what our culture promulgates? AP Singh, one of the defence lawyers for Jyothi’s rapists, says, “We have the best culture. In our culture there is no place for a woman.” Bold words by a misinformed Hindu misogynist. I wonder where lawyers like A P Singh and M L Sharma come from and what are their thoughts about the female deities they worship for according to them, a woman is a sex symbol. I wonder what would happen to these defence lawyers if they were to present a case before a female judge? Would they be distracted by her sexuality? And the question is how many more A P Singhs and M L Sharmas exist in today’s world? It is a scary thought that we may be living amongst men who think that men and women can’t be friends.
Our scriptures say that Gods reside in places where a woman is worshipped. India is country where the words of power and strength, Shakthi is feminine. The two main Hindu epics are testimonies to the fact that entire clans have been wiped out due to disrespect and insult meted out to women – the abduction of Sita and the public humiliation of Draupadi.
To me, these scriptures are not mere stories but caricatures of the different facets of humankind. The common denominator in the lives of the accused is that they come from the throes of poverty. But poverty is no excuse for brutality and inhumaneness. What the rapists did was a total lack of respect for the dignity of a girl and callousness towards humanity. It was nothing short of barbarism.
In the documentary, “India’s Daughter”, one of the defence lawyers states that the girl is like a diamond and that if the diamond is put on the streets, the dog will definitely take it. What would one do to a dog who takes their diamond? More so what would one do to a rabid dog?
This attitude towards women and show of physical strength to bully and intimidate is not restricted to certain countries in the world. It is a rampant epidemic. The International Women’s Day forum organised by United Indian Association drew attention to this problem in Australia. People tend to believe that atrocities against women are non-existent in an educated society, but that is not true. Superintendent and White Ribbon Ambassador Gary Merryweather had a very powerful message. The movement against violence towards women by men has to be led by men. This year’s International Woman’s Day’s message is “MAKE IT HAPPEN” – so come on LET US!!!
It is all about making the right choices and men taking ownership for their own actions. They need to stop playing the ‘blame game’. “I didn’t want to hit. But she asked for it”, “If the girl was raped it is her fault. She shouldn’t have been out that late at night” – blah!!blah!!blah!! Violence against women is real and it does not discriminate.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke