Saturday, 21 September 2013
Dear Reader, take a look at the video above, what do you think? Also try reading some of the comments below on the page, do you find them offensive?
This video- campaign recently went viral in social media, it features a prominent actress and a popular VJ and is a satire on the current climate regarding Rape and other sexual offences in India. It is a reactionary piece, done in a clever way to show that as certain public figures in India opine, violence against women being "fault of the victim" is utter rubbish!
If you are not familiar with the social milieu of the Subcontinent, let me explain, there are those, generally ignorant public figures, oily, self serving politicians, self- styled godmen/ community leaders and other blithering idiots who believe that the victim of violence/ rape/ acid- attacks and other brutality must have done something to suffer such a fate.
After every incident (especially high profile ones like the Dec-16 Delhi Gang Rape Case) they rush to release statements about how they deplore the incident, Yet how, somehow, the victim- that poor unfortunate girl, could have escaped such a fate, if she had only followed the 'RULES'...Oh how they wish the poor....... unfortunate....girl....should have done this....or done that... Basically shifting the blame to the Victim!
Oh yes! the fault was her's you see, she was out late at night, or she was with a man, or why was she not with a man?...unprotected, or she was wearing obscene clothes, makeup etc etc...so basically she was asking for it...What could the rapist do, but oblige?
Some examples of this are especially bizarre, Asaram- a self styled godman, and himself a multiple times sexual offender and child molester, 'genuinely prayed for the Dec 16 victim' yet opined that 'when they came to rape her (instead of defending herself) she should have called them BHAIIYA ( hindi word for brother) and they would have backed off, after all why would a brother brutally rape and then shove a rod up your vagina?'
Yes my dear reader! your eyes do not deceive you, want another example? Well prepare to be amazed, Khap Panchayats illegal community collective courts (they are not sanctioned by law) say that rapes happen because the ' young people eat foreign food like chowmein! Or talk on cellphones, or wear jeans, or are educated!' In fact they are of the opinion that girls should be married at a young age before 'they get corrupted by all these UN-INDIAN trappings, then they will be leashed by their husbands whose work is to keep their women-folk under control and if they abuse, rape, torture etc, they have the right because women are their property!'
Shocking isn't it? But oh I am coming to the really good one...brace yourself... Ahem... Every time an incident is reported some of us, the principled bastion of morality- The Common Man- believe, that surely the perpetrators are not one of us...that they are, migrants, uneducated, of a different religion, caste/class, state etc etc....
The above falderal is only a fraction of the insanity that one is subjected to after every incident, the sheer callousness of public figures has left many disgusted at the behaviour of these ' honourable men' . Vote hungry politicians rush in to placate their constituencies, publicity hungry bollywood actors (indeed, some especially removed from reality), delusional community leaders, dogmatic godmen all try to vociferously make their unwanted, ignorant and idiotic opinions heard in various news channels, who in turn milk a heinous incident for all it's worth. The resulting cacophony is so unbearable for some that they switch off their TV's to avoid being disgusted, throwing up and in my case smash the screen into pieces (as if that would stop them)!
If this isn't enough then there are the so called 'crusaders for justice'. In a previous post- the Rape of Innocence, I had expressed my anger at " various activists and women's groups (some of whom are publicity hungering opportunists) " . There are also the well meaning, yet misguided media campaigns that end up doing more harm than good. Some of which like the MARD ( Men Against Rape & Discrimination) just miss the point entirely. They mean to say that a real MARD (macho- man in Hindi), has a duty protect women.This noble yet misguided campaign, supported by many celebrities, perpetrated patriarchy in it's own way. Many celebrities (especially male) from bollywood, TV, sports etc spoke out in support, but somehow it smacked more of self publicity and the magnanimous support of influential men to the women's movement, than a genuine attempt to redress social evils.
And then there were some women's group themselves, that perpetrated norms of patriarchy and unknowingly, kowtowed to regressive social dogma by campaigns like ' ABUSED GODDESSES' a campaign that went viral. While the images of abused Hindu goddesses, worshipped for strength, wisdom and prosperity were shocking, appalling and disturbing; in their own way, it unwittingly encouraged the goddess vs slut myth.
Or this one below, the image of a woman with a anguished eyes one of which is bruised visible behind a burqa.
Many practical and sensible advocates and supporters of these campaigns say, that they are meant for the consumption of the masses, who don't understand or have no interest in the sexual politics and debate about the regressive standards and stagnation of the society. I think, that they do have a valid point, however I must in turn, point out that social change can only be brought about if the the regressiveness of patriarchy is addressed, and efforts are made to abolish it.
There should be a debate about healthy masculinity, basically try and teach our male children to respect women and encourage them to be themselves- free of any pressure to conform to an image, especially what boys and girls should or shouldn't do.
Efforts must also be made to address the mentality, that blames the victim of violence and abuse for her plight. This is a serious one my dear reader. Women are not images or types, who are we as a society to decide whether a woman should be venerated like a goddess or reviled like a slut? Women who dress and behave in a demure manner are equally at risk, as are the women who do not conform. If a woman is a rule- breaker or a free thinker, she is not 'asking for it'. I would like to see this Rule Book and who made these so called Rules anyway?
When a woman is raped, molested, attacked or is subjected to brutality,let us not raise questions about her dress, or why she was out late or why was she in the company of other men or even her girl-friends? By going into such tangents, we are guilty of making excuses for her tormentors. IT IS NOT HER FAULT! SHE DID NOT DO ANYTHING! SHE DID NOT ASK FOR IT!
I end this post with a request, please click on the above link. It is about an initiative called "Project Unbreakable". These incredibly brave women should be the ones to be venerated, they are not helpless victims but survivors. They have taken control and they deserve respect, for what they've done. I am a firm believer in the basic human right of free speech and expression. However,those individuals who defy humanity, by subjecting another human being to any form of abuse (verbal, physical/mental), do not have the right to spread their venom amongst society through this free speech.Such creatures, such misogynistic animals should hold their tongues, they have no right to make excuses for their brutality. They gave up their rights, when they deliberately hurt an innocent. And lastly to all those blithering idiots who think they know right from wrong-Shut up!