Friday, 13 March 2015

Are India's daughters really safe ?

Yesterday there was an incident in Bengaluru where a police officer from Madurai beat up his adult daughter brutally in broad daylight for allegedly having an affair with a person who the parents didn’t deem fit for the daughter. Bystanders, among who was the girl’s mother, a school teacher herself, looked on. The girl was finally saved by two women who were passing by and the incident reported to the police. Today the papers reported that the police let the father go because the girl did not file a complaint against her father. The fact that there were so many witnesses to the incident doesn’t matter, I guess.

A few days ago, a woman in one of the groups on a popular social networking site mentioned that whenever she comes to India (she lives in the US), she is pitied on by all her relatives & neighbours because she has two daughters. Recently one of her mom’s friends, a school Principal, told her that since she had her child in the US & there you get to know the sex of the foetus in advance, she should’ve aborted the second child when she came to know that it was a girl.

These are just two incidents that show that India’s daughters are indeed not safe !!!

It is not just the poverty stricken, uneducated, angry youth whom she should be scared of. She should be very scared of her own parents and neighbours too, both men and women, who see her as nothing but a liability.

All the furore on the documentary by Leslee Udwin titled India’s daughter got me thinking. All those who condemned the documentary were saying things like, “why name it as India’s daughter ? Rape is not a problem unique to India. It is a global phenomenon” or “this documentary is a ploy to shame India” or “not all men in India are like these men who were accused of the rape”.

I agree, rape is not a phenomenon unique to India, it happens all over the World. But in which other civilized society have we heard politicians and general public find fault with the victim because of the way she dressed or because she was alone at a nightclub? One may not approve of a way a woman/girl has dressed or the way she behaves but that DOES NOT give anyone the right to physically violate her. Rape is RAPE. PERIOD.

I got online to see if it (blaming the victim) happens in the Western world too. Yes, it sometimes does especially by the lawyers who are defending the accused. But I also found that in the US and Canada there are “rape shield laws” that prohibit cross-examination of the accuser (alleged victim) with respect to certain issues, such as his or her prior sexual history, or the manner in which he or she was dressed at the time of the rape.

It is also true that all men in India are not brutal pigs but as the incident with which I begin here is anything to go by, many men are. I’m sure some will say, but there are such men in the Western world too. I agree, there must be but would he be spared by the authorities after beating up his daughter in public?
It is so unfortunate that instead of self-introspection, we turn to pointing fingers. Even when my 5 year old tells me, after doing something naughty, “s/he told me to do, so I did it” or “s/he did it too”…I tell him, that’s not an acceptable excuse for his bad behavior. So why does a country get away with saying, “they do too”?

It is with anguish that I say that more, a lot more needs to be done by Indians, by the people in power to make India a safer place for her daughters.

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