Though it was coloured in black and white, it was not black and white. One year after the December 16 gangrape in Delhi was a point to stop and look back on what all has changed.
Have there been changes? And when we talk about ‘changes’, what do we mean by ‘change’?
It was so brutal and animal that it stirred not India only, but pulled the attention of the global community.
The two weeks of protests that followed the December 16 horror slapped the Indian psyche, laid it threadbare, thrashed the Indian administration, made the world worried about women safety in India (their women as well as the Indian women) and thus gave India the tag of the rape capital of the world.
And if we see the developments leading to the ‘desired’ ‘changes’ in this context, we can say nothing ‘much’ has moved.
On paper, a stronger anti-rape law was put in place. But rape cases reported have doubled since the December 16 incident, if we talk of Delhi, the national Capital of India. True, it may be that the increased attention and a tougher anti-rape law have led to the higher reporting of such cases. But it also tells us about the uncomfortable truth about us, the central reason behind crime against women, a truth that we all know but do want to realize to work on.
The truth behind increased reporting of such cases tells us how deep the murk is. If an anti-rape law can result in over two-fold increase in reporting of the rape cases from Delhi alone, imagine the horror at the pan-India level where most of the cases are still not reported!
It is good more cases are being reported. It is bad the accompanying legal machinery is still not responding to it in a satisfactory way. Some special courts were made to handle rape cases only, six in Delhi, the Chief Justice of India had inaugurated. All are trailing with unimpressive outcomes.
Again, that is for Delhi only. Think of the problem at the pan-India level and link it with the flood of rape cases being reported from across the country and you would feel ‘nothing’ has changed.
It cannot, until the mindset changes. It cannot, until the male-dominated Indian psyche remains skewed.
We are a country of the men who still kill their five minor daughters in cold blood, shooting them in the head, to get rid of them, as happened last week in the Gaya district in Bihar where the father was the killer.
We are a country of the men who kill millions of girls even before they see the world. Last year, the Indian government said the country had nearly 3 million girls less (‘missing’) in 2011 (75.84 million) than their count in 2001 (78.83 million). In a country, facing the acute crisis of a skewed sex ratio, female foeticide and female infanticide continue shamelessly.
We are a country of the men who still brand women as witches to exploit them, to settle scores with them. We are a country of the men who still marry their daughters in an age when they can’t realize what marriage is. UNICEF statistics say 18 per cent of the Indian girls are married by the age of 15 and the share gets disturbingly higher with 47 per cent of the girls getting married by the age of 18. The October 2013 report published in the Times of India puts the number of child brides in India at 24 million out of the global count of 60 million.
We are a country of the men who still treat women as secondary, lesser counterparts professionally as well as socially. Dowry is social menace deeply rooted. Dowry murders still happen. Girls form the larger chunk of ‘forced’ illiterates and dropouts. Glass Ceiling is common.
How can there be a change of gravity until this borrowed mentality of male domination changes, a borrowed mentality anointed for ages?
One year after, and it was to be coloured in black and white, all across. But, the undercurrents remain in the realm of grey!
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/