The main bottle neck in ensuring the safety as also the equality of women is not the absence of laws but the enforcement of these due to a biased mind-set against them. The Indian society does not accord equal status to a woman. Every father craves for a son as he alone can light his funeral pyre and the religious sanction is claimed for that belief! The killing of unborn girl child is part of this social thinking that a son is a blessing and a must to continue the clan for a man. It is a fact that due to biased social beliefs, the women are expected to bring in dowry and the failure in that respect has resulted in many deaths by suicide or by bride burning. In earlier times, women were expected to jump into the burning pyre of their husbands as Sati. Even in recent times there were some instances of Sati!
The tragic death of the Delhi Braveheart Damini because of the injuries sustained in gang rape as also while trying to fight the heinous rapists is the most tragic event that has taken place in the recent times. It reminds one of the Ranga-Billa episode which was something similar. That time the duo was sent to gallows. The rapists involved in the present heinous crime deserve nothing less than the gallows at the earliest to set an example. The death has shaken the conscience of the people all over and really woken up the youth who have been tolerating these excesses for last 65 years.
Even while the whole country was mourning the tragic death, there were some other incidents of rape including that of a minor also. According to statistics there is a rape every twenty minutes or so! There is a universal demand that the rapists should get the death sentence and for that purpose there is a demand to amend the law. It is true that there is urgent need to amend the laws relating to crimes against women to make these stringent as also ensure fast track trial for such offences. There has also been talk about empowerment of women for a long time but nothing substantial has been achieved in this regard. The fact that women have headed some important institutions like the Parliament, a State Government, and a ruling party has not really empowered them.
Then women are displayed as a sex symbol by the advertisers to promote sales of various products. Even Bollywood prefers scantily clad women dancing in various sequences to improve their success at the box office. There are many instances where the law enforcement protectors have themselves indulged in crimes against women and got away. Even a large number of the peoples’ representatives too have cases involving crimes against women pending against them. Merely making laws stringent and ensuring strict enforcement will not be enough. Yes, these steps will act as a deterrent but to really ensure the safety of women we have to give them social equality after overcoming all social biases.
There were many comments on the Facebook and the Twitter about many people bringing out the grouse of Kashmiris during this tragedy in Delhi. Some other people observed that it was not the solemn occasion to do so. However, while analysing causes of this increasing lawless behaviour especially among the law enforcers, one must not forget the situation in conflict zones. The behaviour of law enforcing agencies in Delhi in crushing a peaceful demonstration and increasing number of protectors of law indulging in crimes against women has its origin in their unaccountable behaviour in conflict zones. This behaviour has not only been condoned but even encouraged by the state in so called “National Interest”! It is like the behaviour of the wild beasts.
Once these taste human blood, they turn into man eaters and devour any human they see without caste, creed, colour or religion. The security personnel have been given a virtual free hand under various draconian legislations including the infamous AFSPA. Most of their actions including rapes are not justiciable as they have been given immunity from prosecution. These very people when they return home after having tasted the blood have a tendency in their sub-conscious mind to get similar actions condoned elsewhere. This amounts to evil returning to its perpetrator!
There is an English saying about the chickens coming home to roost! The origin of the saying can be traced to Robert Southey. In his poem, “The Curse of Kehama” written in 1810, he used the phrase, "Curses are like young chicken: they always come home to roost" as its motto on the title page. Samuel Taylor Coleridge revived the imagery of a bird returning to punish a bad deed in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, 1798. In the poem the eponymous mariner kills an albatross, which was regarded as an omen of good luck, and is punished by his shipmates by having the bird hung around his neck. Thus there is a universal notion that the evil which one perpetrates on others comes back with ferocity to the perpetrator. So while we are analysing the causes of the recent tragedy and other similar happenings elsewhere, we must not forget the aspect of the chickens coming home to roost!
Thus, the most important step in giving equality and safety to women would be a revolutionary change in the social mind-set. This can be achieved by the new generation which has risen like an Indian Spring. One should not expect the oldies to do the job as they have inherent prejudices and biases. The new generation is free to take its own decisions. They have the capacity to initiate a social revolution and this opportunity should not be lost. If they take the initiative to change the mind-set, it would be a lasting contribution.