–Ibrahim Hafeezur Rehman
The treatment and thought towards women is reflective of the mindsets and character that a large chunk of males carry in India and perhaps in the world. Recent incidents are clear pointers to this wherein at one place an innocent girl was subjected to most barbaric treatment primarily to put fear in to the minds of her community or tribe. It is horrifying to note that in order to make a particular community flee the village, perpetrating such barbarity on the other gender and that too on a vulnerable innocent child, was the chosen method and rape was the instrument. It points to the fact that for such evil minds, now women particularly teens and vulnerable children have become an easy instrument to satiate not just “carnal desire” but even to espouse an ideology or a communal “political cause”
The mindset is very much evident in less serious aspects such as analysing women on the basis of what they are wearing , for instance, ascertaining or certifying their character on the basis of a short skirt or Burqa. Hence, those wearing short skirts or Jeans are definitely with “loose morals” and those wearing “Burqas” are “fundamentalist, parochial and flawed”. It is beyond male imagination that a woman may chose to wear a Burqa or Jeans or even “both” purely as a matter of “personal choice” and “belief.” The flawed thinking is reflective in how wives and daughters are treated in large number of houses and the staple diet of male egos and protectionism thrust on them. The rape incident in UP is reflective of this mindset wherein after initial outrage some undertones and murmurs are emerging on what the girl used to wear and on her earlier actions. The next stage would, of course, be a character analysis leading to character assassination. There is no focus on the antecedents or an analysis of psyche of the accused.
The larger and conclusive point that usually emerges from analysis of victims is that men in general can be “bad” it is for the girls to be “good” and protect themselves. The emphasis then turns to making women and girls aware of this “bad” aspect of men and not on correcting it in men. It is very difficult to acknowledge and fathom that the so called “bad” in men is present in majority with varying degrees and has the danger of manifesting at any point. In criminal minds such as the ones involved in the two incidents it manifests itself in most unfathomable and sickening ways.
There were a couple of women leaders who were given the task of speaking on the said issues. Apart from the customary condemnation the only action point that emerged was the demand by them to tighten laws and seek death penalty for the perpetrators of rape. The condemnation and demand for capital punishment are important but draw attention away from the fact that in both the cases even lodging an FIR was an uphill task for the victim or her family. Till the honourable courts intervened and the growing public attention and outrage there was significant reluctance to take action.
Across the country majority of rape victims are awaiting delivery of justice. In several cases as in Muzaffarnagar some of them have not even been able to register an FIR. Hence, before demanding capital punishment it would be more appropriate to first demand action and delivery of justice to the victims. Moreover, it is important that we stop talking of women being raped and start emphasising on the men responsible for raping women. The change is desirable as in case of Kathua it is the Photo of the girl that kept doing rounds of social media. It is more important to circulate the photographs of alleged perpetrators of the crime as more than empathising with the girl and highlighting her society needs to send across a message about the criminals. It is important that society remembers their faces and not of the victimised girls.
A more worrying point in case of Kathua is that women are now not only looked upon by the criminal minds to fulfil their physical/sexual desires but to take forward political and communal agenda. This is alarming and needs to be nipped in the bud by swift action and exemplary punishment.
Terrorism or even rape of this kind have no religion both are instruments of a sick mindset and ideology to polarise society. Each religion and culture in its pure and basic form has given the right respect and place to women. Since the analysis and interpretation at religious, culture and even national level is male dominated and oriented the result is often distortion and biases which cannot be corrected only by laws. We need the right minded majority to come forward and speak, counsel and pressurise the males who have a flawed negative analytical thinking and opinion on everything related to women. On an optimistic front the outrage on the two incidents and the pro active action by the courts gives us hope that the larger moral fabric of the society is still intact and there is hope for correction.
(Ibrahim Hafeezur Rehman, Development Sector Specialist, Independent Thinker)