The women in Bengaluru are not safe. The women in Delhi are not safe. Nowhere in India, are the women truly safe. On New Year’s eve in Bengaluru, amongst the protection of 1,500 policemen, women were touched, grabbed, abused without restraint. 1,500 armed policemen were not enough to stop them. Maybe 1,500 more would have done the job. Or maybe, they would have simply stalled the loathsome act for another occasion. The law, even when tightened like a noose around the neck, wouldn’t help. And Abu Azmi or G Parameshwara’s advice to wear Indian clothes would not have helped either. The latter is a tried and tested solution which never works. Its popularity among patriarchs, however, is astounding.
The police have promised to take necessary steps, as they have on numerous occasions. The ministers have spoken, expressed their opinions about why the women got molested. Karnataka’s Home Minister G Parameshwara said, “unfortunately, what is happening is as I said days like new year Brigade Road, Commercial Street, M G Road, a large number of youngsters gather. Youngsters who are almost like Westerners, they try to copy the Westerners not only in the mindset but even the dressing.” Meanwhile, another gem came out of SP’s Abu Azmi, who told CNN, “It was bound to happen. Woman call nudity fashion. They were wearing short dresses….Women must step out with family,” he added. “It won’t be right for my sister or daughter to go out at night without male members of the family.” How convenient. Let us presume to agree with these respected gentlemen and blame it on the victims.
On 31st December 2015, I went out for dinner with a group of friends to Besant Nagar, Chennai. The concerned women were all dressed “decently”, clad in “Indian wear” with male members of the family(sort off), as ‘required’ to stay safe. And yet, once the clock hit midnight, all hell broke loose. Water pouches were thrown and bodies were groped, abuses were thrown at random. By the time we had reached our hostel, we had just lived the most frightening 2 hours of our lives. Women have faced worse. They have been groped, raped and treated like livestock. For such acts are not merely sexual, they provide men with a satisfaction of validating the centuries-old tradition of owning women like livestock.
This is not about Bangalore or Delhi or burqas or skirts. Rape is about power. The sheer satisfaction of being capable of owning another person’s body without facing much of a consequence is what rape is about. Rape is bastardised slavery; if the latter could be corrupted anymore that is. This is not an issue that can be taken care of by the law. Surely the USA abolished slavery long ago, but last I checked, black people were still getting shot. And when the narrative of #BlackLivesMatter came into light, it was countered with #AllLivesMatter, which remains quite identical to #NotAllMen response to the Bangalore molestation. Law, even if properly implemented with rigorous steps would only treat the symptoms. The cure, however, remains in changing the fundamental understanding of equality, not before the law but in one’s own eyes. And a change in the fundamental understanding can only happen when children are taught the same. It is true that the laws need to be stricter and the implementation even more. But you cannot beat an evolutionary trait out of a person gained through centuries of suppressing women. Although, here is one very simple solution to avoid rapes in the short term: Don’t rape. It is quite easy actually. I am not raping anyone right now.