A disgusting event has had a tragic end. The nation hangs its head in shame over the trauma and death of a 23-year old woman so brutally gang-raped and beaten to pulp. As politicians and law enforcement officials mull over the next step, the larger India must ask itself a simple question — are we going to allow this disgust to continue and tragically so?
Some are calling for instant justice — take the rapists out, hang them and then ask questions. But the most sober in society are calling naturally for tougher laws that mandate the death penalty for a convicted offender. The temptation for quick retribution — the lynch mob style — should not take away or ignore the fact that as the world’s largest democracy, we are a nation of laws, however slow justice may be delivered. That sets us apart from banana republics.
The physical and emotional pain suffered by Nirbhaya and her family is something that many women across India feel silently and almost on a daily basis and much of it under the guise of “culture.” It is atrocious to say that there is something called a “cultural context” to rape, and worse to make the point that the issue is best put to rest as there is a “culture” to contend with. There can be nothing more cowardly than invoking culture so as not to discuss or deal with a sensitive issue pertaining to women.
The hoopla over the tragedy will continue for some time — as long as the media keep it afloat or until such time some other issue makes the front page.
Even today one group still blames the Delhi victim and her friend for going to a late-night movie and for boarding a private bus. Why should it always be a moral science lesson for the girl, and not the guy? Isn’t it a shame that people still believe that the girl tempts the person to rape her?
So what is the answer? It is in educational institutions where extra effort must be made to inculcate in students respect for women, for what they are. This is not going to be easy in a society where women are looked down upon as the “weaker” sex, if not inferior to men. But a beginning must be made.
Placing a rope over the neck or castrating the culprits is not going to be the only effective deterrent. Sensitising people to the issue is the way to go about. Institutions of higher learning must take upon themselves to enlighten students on the rightful place of women in society and in the process highlight the troublesome issues — sexual discrimination, harassment, assault and rape.
“She” was always a pain in the neck, unwelcome even before she was born, a constant nag to the family as she had to be watched. If things go wrong, it is always because of “her” — if the home is unkept, food is bad, children are spoiled brats or a marriage is broken. It is time for the subaltern to speak. The voice might be feeble, trembling and muffled — after all this is the voice of the community that has been silenced for centuries.