Saturday, 29 December 2012

A National Shame

         When I first started writing this blog, I thought keeping the posts apolitical would be a good idea. That stance lasted for a month before I realised I couldn t be candid and honest by censoring my own thoughts, that it would defeat the entire purpose of this blog which I envisioned was about providing me a space to sort the important stuff from all the other sensory dross I subject my brain to. I still am reluctant to comment on political issues because I, like most people in India, am woefully unaware of the entire truth on any given issue. I would like to preface this post by saying that I am aware that I do not possess all the facts pertaining to this case and am only giving voice to my views.

          The facts as I know them are that a 23 year old woman was sexually assaulted by a group of  six men in a moving bus in Delhi. The men savagely forced themselves upon her, rammed foreign objects into her, beat her repeatedly, stripped her and threw her out of a moving bus at a secluded flyover. She was with a friend who was struck on the head with an iron rod and thrown out. This moving bus passed several police patrol vehicles through busy thoroughfares in New Delhi. It took forty five minutes for a passerby to call the Police after she was thrown out of the bus.

          This brave woman after battling for her life at a hospital in Singapore is now dead. Six young men, all of them residents of a Delhi slum, have been arrested and four of them have reportedly confessed. Sheila Dixit, the CM, on being asked about this incident, allegedly, had initially remarked that the license of the bus was cancelled. Those were the only words she had to say before the popular outrage was evident. No comment was made about the woman's condition or of any efforts to apprehend the men responsible.

         Sushma Swaraj, a BJP MP, in an impassioned speech asked for the death penalty for the perpetrators but not before remarking that the girl would be a living corpse even if she lived. All the MPs were unanimous in their condemnation of this heinous act and support for imposing the death penalty cut across party lines. This was the first instance ( barring the bill that sought to increase the MP's salaries ) that I have seen our MPs agree about something. In the week that followed, many people, most of them students, took to the streets in protest against the ineptitude of the law enforcement in Delhi. There are bound to be developments in this case. Please feel free to post any new information in the comments section.

         I have refrained from writing about this abominable act till now because I wanted to reflect upon this before I spewed forth an expletive laden post which would be cathartic but ultimately useless. As I wrote the preceding paragraphs, I tried my best to leave commentary out of the facts. The facts are themselves horrendous enough to induce nausea and disgust. When I heard about this for the first time, I was appalled. I was outraged, angry and felt helpless. I felt ashamed that something like this could happen in a country I live in, in this day and age.

        I was heartened by the outpouring of support for this brave young woman from people all over the nation. The public outrage was palpable all over the Internet. People demanding chemical castration, hanging, emasculation, beheading and other inventive forms of torture were vociferously flooding the social media with their posts and tweets. One of the milder ones read- " Every one found guilty of sexual crime must be tattooed with the word RAPIST on his forehead. These beasts should undergo the same humiliation the victim does but shouldn t. " ( I do not know who the author of this post is but this suggestion does hold some merit )

        But when the outrage dies, the passionate cries lose their vehemence and this incident fades from the public memory, what do we do? Do we then wait for another such unspeakable horror to wake us up from our collective insouciance? Or will we become sufficiently inured in the future, as we have to endemic and systemic corruption, that nothing will shock us? Let us channel this outrage towards productive ends and come up with ideas to help ensure nothing like this ever happens. Blaming the politicians, the judiciary, the police and the media is momentarily satisfying but in the end, utterly ineffectual. Societal apathy and desensitisation are what we need to fight. This is a profoundly important democratic and social moment. The onus is on us, you and I, to keep fighting, whichever way we can.

         Because of the media spotlight, the political leaders have endeavoured to speed up the judicial process. They are talking about setting up fast track courts, recruiting more women as police officers, providing resources to set up more patrols and better public transportation. I have no doubt that these promises were made with a preresolved intention of breaking them. But let us hold them to their word. Inundate the social media with open letters to the President, the PM. Keep those posts coming. Blog about it. Send SMSes about it. Write letters to your MLAs, MPs, councilmen. Keep this issue current. Those of you who are reading this and have the wherewithal to influence the glacially slow political process in any way, consider this my humble plea to use your influence to effect a positive change.
        Finally, I cannot presume to be able to articulate the suffering the woman underwent or the hell her loved ones are going through. All I can wish for is that her family continues to fight but I can certainly understand if they don t want to.  My thoughts and prayers are with her family.       


  1. This article is too bland. You say you are outraged but I don t feel it. You should have written that 'expletive laden' article

  2. I explained my rationale for writing this post the way I did. I intentionally censored all the hyperbole, innuendo and verbal grandiosity. The idea of this piece was not to induce any knee jerk reaction of outrage but to point out that misdirected rage is pointless. Reflect calmly on the facts and think of ways to help. I understand that you are outraged; so am I. I only think posturing and empty rhetoric should be left to politicians and reporters on the airwaves.

    However if you still want to read an "expletive laden" post, I am happy to oblige; just leave your email id in the comments section.