India has an intense nationalism, is a greatest country on earth! India is multi cultural, pluralistic Nation. She has to arrive in economic, agriculture, social, educational, health and hygiene next to China. But, in reality corruption, religious chauvinism, pseudo politics, ignored minorities, industries employing not even one percent of the population is disturbing. Amity India strives to expose India’s anti secularist force , being detrimental to India’s progress and to the social justice.
The death of the Delhi gang
rape victim in Singapore (Dec 28, 2012) has created a massive wave of anger and
protest. As such after this ghastly act, which took place nearly two weeks ago,
the anger and protest of the people came to the streets and one witnessed the
unfortunate police action. This gang rape was so horrific that the attention of
the people from all the sectors of society was drawn to it, and the rage
amongst people was limitless. One cannot describe enough the brutality of this
act, which took place in the moving bus in Delhi. The first object of people’s
wrath was the Government and the police for their failure to prevent such acts,
their inability to prevent such acts and lack of strong laws and for inability
to put in place the mechanism for early punishment of the guilty, which can act
as the deterrent to such heinous crimes in future. The first demand of
protesters was that the guilty should be hanged.
Surely this massive unrest
will force the authorities and society to initiate moves which should lead to
the better and stronger laws and better norms for policing. One hopes this
alone will not be the end of the social and political response to the protest
of the people. One has to recognize that punishing the guilty, making stronger
laws will merely be addressing the symptoms. The better path will be that in
due course the grief of the event should be channelized to look at the
phenomenon of rape and sexual violence against women at deeper level. In turn
this should lead to efforts to create better social values and atmosphere where
women can enjoy equal status and overcome the present chains of patriarchy. It
is this prevalent patriarchy which is at the root of looking at women as
subordinate secondary beings, who should submit to the wishes of stronger sex.
The patriarchal mind set is at the root violence against women.
Today the whole response to
the violence against women has to face the obstacle of biased processes,
starting from the attitude society, apathetic and sometimes hostile response of
the police and the attitude of a large section of judiciary. It goes without
saying that all those who have to deal with the crimes against women need to be
gender sensitized. Rape as such is a part of the attitude which regards women
as secondary beings or worse the property of men. This is what was structural
in feudal society. The transition from feudal society to the democratic society
is half way arrested in India and during last three decades or so this
transition for equality of both sexes has taken a beating with the rise of
politics in the name of religion. This ascendance of politics in the name of
religion has an all out impact on our system, the culture, the values and
social thinking. This ascendance of ideology which, treats women as secondary
beings has many negative aspects inbuilt into it.
At global level Islam has
been demonized by US for the goals of control on oil wells, America’s promotion
of obscurantist versions of Islam and ultraconservatism in Islam, its propping
up of Al Qaeda and coining of the word ‘Islamic terrorism’ has boosted the
retrograde forces in Muslim societies. The arrested secularization process
supplemented by this political process has promoted patriarchy in many Islamic
Last tearful homage.
On similar grounds the
bringing in of religion in political space in India, the coming up Ram temple
movement and consequent politics in the name of Hindu religion has also
triggered the pushing back of struggles related to gender justice and equality
of sexes. As such in India, the rape of Mathura, an Adivasi girl in police
custody in late 1970s gave an impetus to the women’s movement which came up as
a strong phenomenon raising the issues related to women’s equality, their
yearning for half the sky, their aspirations for a world where they are not
just confined to Kitchen, Church and Children but are also a part of the full
social space in its entirety, the arena of production and creativity. Later
women’s movement also engaged itself with the issue of rape of Manorama by army
In the transition phase
from feudal set up to struggle for democratic society many an ideologues who
were opposed to this transition did put forward their ideas which regarded
women as the property of men. While those for democratic values encouraged
women’s equality, those stuck to feudal values, presented their norms under the
wrap of religion and opposed the values of gender equality in various forms.
The communal politics which developed in India had a great appreciation of
norms from Manusmriti or for those Islamic traditions which gave a secondary
status to women. One of the ideologues of Hindutva, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
went on to criticize Shivaji’s act of benevolence in which he shows respect for
the daughter in law of Subhedar of Kalyan. Shivaji and returns her back to her
home with full honors. His army had brought her to him as a part of plunder and
as a ‘gift’ for him. The Taliban mindset is not hidden from us, the types of
dictates they gave, which led to girls like Malala to stand up against them.
The BJP MP B.L.Sharma Prem expressed his ideology when he termed the act of
rape of nuns in Jhabua as an act of Nationalism. One recalls George Fernandez,
the BJP ally in later part of his life, had gone on to infamously state that
‘what is new about rape’ and refused to take this crime seriously. This he
stated in the context of Gujarat carnage where unthinkable sexual crimes took
place against Muslim women.
Communal violence is again
a site of contestation which also takes place on women’s bodies. Not only are
the bodies of minority women targeted, the rumors regarding cutting of the breasts
of ‘our women’ by the others has been a standard rumor used to instigate the
people to attack the others. The matters have gone to such horrific extent that
women themselves have helped ‘their’ men folk to commit such atrocities on the
women from other religion. This has been the experience of Mumbai 1992-93
Mumbai violence and 2002 Gujarat carnage. Rape has also been used as a weapon
against the weaker sections of society where Dalit or Adivasi women are
subjected to this ignominy to punish that community; Khairlanji will always be
etched in memory as an example of this.
The association of rape
with clothes of women has been propped up by various police officials and
communalists at times. The Khap psychology of controlling the lives of women in
the name of Gotra is another aspect which we need to eradicate from our
society. Many of these things have become stronger during last few decades and
some contribution to patriarchal thinking has been promoted by the serials like
the Saas bhi Kabhi… or films belonging to this genre of values. The cultural
and religious space is also dominated various expressions, which promote the
same. This is an outcome of retrograde politics and in turn further corrupts
the political-cultural space to promote the obscurantist gender equations.
All this emerges from the
patriarchal value system, which is an accompaniment of sectarian politics.
While demanding for strong punishment against the criminals, one hopes the
issues raised by this upsurge will be channelized to go to the deeper causes of
this phenomenon and will also come to challenge the politics which is based on
caste and gender hierarchy, the communal politics. This politics, which can
come in the garb of any religion, is detrimental to the rights and status of women.
The need is not to look at women as someone who need protection and respect as
the subordinate being, but to work towards a society where women have control
over their lives, where women are not the weaker sex, but one amongst the two
equal sexes. One wishes the infinite pain and anguish of this upsurge will come
to challenge the deep set norms of patriarchy in our society. Lets hope we
don’t have to hang our head in shame again.