Women safety: The community needs to do more

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A veterinary doctor was gang-raped and murdered by four persons (2 truck drivers and 2 cleaners) near the Outer Ring Road at Shamshabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad on the night of November 27, 2019. According to the police, the accused (aged between 20 and 26) had trapped the victim by puncturing the rear tyre of the doctor’s two-wheeler after she parked it at around 6:15 P.M. On the pretense of offering help they dragged her to a secluded spot close to the toll plaza, gang-raped, and set her body ablaze. The culprits were reportedly under the influence of alcohol before attacking the woman.

They were arrested on November 29 for the gangrape and murdering of the woman by dousing her in petrol and burning her alive. In the wee morning hours of 06 December, the breaking news was that the four accused of the Hyderabad veterinary doctor rape and murder case were shot dead at the crime spot in a police encounter when they tried to flee. The cops were given a floral shower for their actions and the slogan “JAI POLICE” was reverberated in the area. There are also reports stating that people performed Paalabhishekam (milk bath) to the flex boards of the encounter specialist in the city and various parts of Telangana.

In the limelight of this incident, I happened to read a Facebook post by a filmmaker from the south-Indian film industry. It was shared in my social circles. His valuable suggestion was that women should offer condoms/contraceptives to rapists and cooperate with their rapists to not get killed during the rape/rape attempt. Seriously? 

I happened to discuss this with my family members because somehow the write-up did bother me about the cynical mentality of such influential people. My sibling posed a very valid thought – so what about the reports of 10 months, 3-year-old and 10-year-old girl children being raped and killed. Is he suggesting that these “kids” should have gone along with the rape or ‘offered condoms’ to their perpetrators?

If the victim needs to give consent to her rapists why would we even call it rape? Rape doesn’t come with prior notice to be ready with condoms to offer to the monsters. At one end we have movies that empower women and at the other end, people like these make such offensive comments that degrade the integrity of women. I cringe at the attitude of these people. Homicide is heinous but not rape. Insane! 

Shout out to all those women activists out there. Where are you, ladies? Are you not going to be out there fighting for women’s rights? Would you be considerate enough to participate in the traditional candlelight vigils for the rape victim? Probably not. Why would you anyway? It wouldn’t fetch you any publicity right, then why would you even bother? But a few weeks back or rather a year ago I could see the media statement as a part of stressing on gender equality you were all set to enter one of the holiest temples in Kerala. Not just the Hyderabad case, when umpteen number of rape cases (Involving minors too) keep popping up from all parts of the country, where was your outrage? Seriously, I never get to hear from you during such incidents. Why is that?

It’s the 21st century and nothing seems to have changed. This morning too as a routine regime I thought twice before choosing my clothes to work. These days in spite of dressing moderately according to society standards the stares of men followed by their sneers are not something I would be comfortable with. In the recent Hyderabad case the doctor was not dressed in provocative clothes and yet what remained were her scalded remains. You could consider me skeptical but even then I would be hesitant to travel at night or take a cab alone. I am a woman who leaves for work every morning and frankly speaking, I have no assurance as to whether or not I would reach back home safe and sound. To date, I haven’t promised that I would be back home to my folks after work because I am not sure if I can keep my word. Sadly, women are just a piece of meat to be violated. 

Forget women, even animals are not safe these days. Haven’t we heard of cases where animals were being used for unnatural sex? I vaguely remember reading an article about a female orangutan being kept in captivity for long to perform sexual acts.

A stringent legal system is the need of the hour to cure the rape norm. Lifetime imprisonment or hang-till-death never serve their purpose. That is evident from the repeated cases of molestation and rapes from various parts of the country. According to statistics, a woman is raped every 20 minutes. Sad but the blatant truth. A judicial system that punishes the offender in such a way that he remains a live example for the society is the dire need for now. We ought to have all-women police stations throughout the country. Reports state that most survivors do not report such incidents because they don’t feel comfortable with the male police. In a recent case of rape, a survivor was asked by the investigating officer “who gave you the most pleasure?” If people who are supposed to enforce the law work this way then none of the cases would come out in the open. 

Yet, another article claims the most trending video searches on porn sites were that of Hyderabad rape victim. Has humanity stooped that low? Can we call ourselves civilized anymore? With the government initiative, we now have all-women patrolling squads, women helpline numbers and apps to help us in times of need. But how accessible are these? What’s the assurance they will reach us on time? 

Some days back I happened to see the video of a woman that had gone viral on the net. It showed her holding a placard with a cross-mark against ‘She got raped’ vs a tick-mark against ‘He raped her’. She suggested that men stay at home so that girls are safe. I don’t agree. Not all men are monsters. How can we generalize just like that? 

Then again, why focus on what women should do to ensure her safety? Why not throw light on what the community at large can do to protect her? Isn’t that equally important? How many cases have we heard of people being silent spectators when women are eve-teased right in front of their eyes. Let’s all pledge to be vigilant (this goes for men too !) and intervene if we spot such offenses. It can work wonders if we need to change our patriarchal society that normalizes rape.

Like Elsa Marie D’Silva said, “If each of us did our bit, we would be able to end the horrific violence against women and girls, and make the world a happier, more equal and inclusive space for all.”

Featured Image Credits: Flickr

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