31 Dec 2012. New Year Eve!! While most of us partied and celebrated to welcome 2013, on the streets of New Delhi a large number of people protested (see link) against December 16 rape of a 23 years old girl. December 16 marked a black day in the history of modern India. The girl is raped multiple times by six powerful males and thrown out of a moving bus.
I feel ashamed to call myself an Indian.
Women organizations and protestors are asking for tougher laws in India. Public is asking a speedy trial and death penalty for culprits. Indian Bar association has barred lawyers to represent the alleged rapists and murderers. Public, print media, social media and internet are urging government to act now and make India safe for WOMEN.
But this was not the first time a woman is a raped. Per Wikipedia, in 2010 around 22000 rapes occurred in India. The State of World Population Report says that in India
· Rape is committed every 54 minutes
· Molestation every 26 minutes
· Kidnapping or abduction every 43 minutes
· Eve-teasing every 51 minutes
· Dowry death every 1 hour 42 minutes
· Criminal offense against women every 7 minutes
This problem is not new and is not limited to India, cities or common men. At times even military is blamed for committing this crime. In October 2012, press reported a demonstration against US troops in a sexual assault case in Japan. Okinawa Military Rape Arrests: Japan Decries U.S. Troops In Sexual Assault Allegations provides details of this case. Rollback 10 years, on October 10, 1992 an army unit raped nine women that included an eleven year old and a 60 year old woman. An excerpt from Human Right report
“On the night of October 10, 1992, an army unit of the 22nd Grenadiers22 entered the village of Chak Saidapora, about four kilometers south of the town of Shopian, district Pulwama, on a search operation for suspected militants. During the operation, at least six and probably nine women, including an eleven-year-old girl and a 60-year-old woman, were gang-raped by several of the army soldiers.”
The big question is why. Is our society sexually deprived? Really? I don’t think so.
It is the power. It is the abuse of power. It is to control the other human beings. It is about suppressing and oppressing the people. In Delhi Rape case, it was the physical power of six men. In some cases it is the political or financial power. Not too long ago, Manu Sharma, son of a powerful politician killed Jessica Lall, a barmaid on 30 April 1999 in front of dozens of people. But his powerful father got him out on bail and initially he was acquitted in 2006 after 7 years of lengthy trial. Public outcry and demonstrations for several days forced government to reopen the case and finally he was put behind bars.
Indian society is plagued. A wealthy mistreats poor using power of money. Officers in administration use their authority to gain bribe. Road authority clerk uses his/her power to get some bucks for issuing driving licenses. Military uses its power to rape women considering it a legitimate consequence of war. Police in India use its power to extract money from people instead of protecting them.
Demonstration for tougher law against rapist would help. But we should demand tougher laws to balance accountability and power. We need tougher laws to stop the abuse of power. We need tougher laws to clean up the society where law and justice are equal for every one regardless of class, gender, financial and political status. We need laws to ensure criminals don’t get in the government. 162 MPs out of 552 are facing criminal charges and yet running the country. Since 2005 a petition was filed to remove MPs with criminal charges but of course it does not have any support. (See link)
On an individual level, people need to understand the difference between use and abuse of the power. A layman can take specific steps to stop the abuse of power by
· Casting vote to responsible candidates who are unlikely to misuse power
· Use merit and not illegitimate means. Stop asking for favors from friends and family for which they have to exploit authority.
· If in a position of authority, let ethics and values prevail.
· Respect all humans regardless of religion, class and gender.
What do you think?
PS: - Sorry it is relatively long article. Thanks for reading and I always welcome your comments.