Tuesday, 15 January 2013

From Cheer to Haran in a Vaahan

My daughter’s school recently staged the Mahabharatha. As she was rattling off how successful it was, she also talked about Draupadi’s Cheerharan, which set off a thought process in my mind. And the persistent questions that kept recurring were these- Has the situation of women changed from the ancient to the modern times? Has there been any change in the way men view them? Do men value them?

Personally I believe that not much of change has happened between then and now. The only solace for Draupadi was Krishna, who saved her modesty. But in today’s India, there is no one to save a woman, because she was, is and always will be viewed as an object of lust.

It was as usual a field day for the TV channels who were discussing how to punish the Delhi gang rapists. But the questions I wish to ask are: How many members present in the discussion panel and the members belonging to the TV channels are ready to do something to change the laws of rape in this country?  How does it matter if rapists are given death sentence or are castrated chemically, unless and until they are put to use through speedy trials and sentencing without scope for bail or further appeals?

I heard people arguing saying an eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind. Here I pause to ask-Will they say the same if their family member was gang raped and brutalized? It is easy to talk and offer platitudes, but one can feel the pain and the trauma only when one goes through it or sees their loved ones going through it.  Personally I think that barbaric laws will hold good for rapists. Lynch or publically castrate them, let them feel the pain of their victim. This would be an apt deterrent for future rapists. And for once I really don’t care what the Human Rights Panel or Amnesty International thinks about my view.

As a mother of two daughters I feel scared. I chide myself for being so paranoid, but rape has become so common in today’s India that I have a right to be paranoid about my daughters’ safety.  Whom will mothers like me turn too if God forbid! Our daughters’ are molested, abducted or gang raped? To a chief minister who says girls and women should not venture after dark?  To Khap Panchayats who say that girls and boys should be married off young so that they don’t have impure sexual thoughts? To an insensitive police force, who have the audacity to say shamelessly that the girl should not have boarded the bus at such a late hour? To an ineffective and slow justice system where the victim needs to run from pillar to post to get justice? And finally to a society who ostracizes the victim instead of the perpetrator of the crime?


We can have candle light vigils and protest marches, but these protests will bear fruit only if they result in reforms and change of laws. But will such changes occur in our country where the government and opposition have MP’s with criminal and rape records? Can we sensitize such people who are only bothered about themselves and their family’s security?  Can we like Ireland change laws to protect our women or will we continue to turn a mute, deaf and blind eye to their pleas?


I frankly don’t know if we can get concrete solutions to the above questions, but as mothers we can definitely bring about a change. We need to stand by our daughters and ensure that they have freedom to live a life without being molested or raped. Let us prepare them to be brave and teach them to defend themselves, because we can no longer trust the law enforcement agencies. Let us teach our son’s these sentences which Gandhiji said, ““To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man's injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man's superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman?”