It’s been a year since that fateful night when 23-year old Nirbhaya was brutally raped and killed by five men. Her family and the nation is not completely satisfied by the justice meted out by court as one of the accused, who was a juvenile at that time by a few short months, has just been imprisoned for three years, though the others are to be hanged.
This was not the first rape in India; women are molested every day in this country. Nirbhaya’s case triggered anger that was seething for decades in the minds of Indian women and progressive men. On her first death anniversary, her father said that India would never be safe for women until the society changes its attitudes.
He did not say men, he said society – it includes the men and women of this society. Although women are worshipped as goddesses in temples and festivals, they are treated as a liability and sons are supposed to open the doors of heaven. Even today voices are raised more for crime against women in metros and prominent cities, but no one has paid attention to what is happening all over India, the way women from every strata of the society are being treated.
In the Mumbai gang rape case, it was later revealed by the accused that they had raped women in same spot earlier. The case went unnoticed and unheard of and the police could not trace the unfortunate woman.
In old Indian movies, it was often shown that if a woman was raped her dignity could be salvaged only if she married the rapist. This sounds incredulous, but it is what many of our politicians, god-men, police and even Panchayats believe. In fact, many cases of molestation, eve teasing and rape go unnoticed, because the girl’s family also blames her for what happened. There was an incident in Rajasthan where an eight year old girl was raped by a man and the Panchayat’s judgement was to marry the girl to the rapist’s son. Fortunately her parents had better sensibilities and refused to accept this judgement.
If a woman is eve teased on the roads in India, men snigger and women stare, but no one stands up to her. Women are asked to change the way they dress, their behavior and themselves, but no one tells the man that he is wrong. If there were no women, there would be no men and ergo, no society, India needs to reconsider its attitude towards women.