In total contrast to a post I did 3 years ago about what makes me a proud Indian in 2011, I am not longer filled with pride now. Today, on 26th January, India celebrates the official end of British rule. However, I can’t bring myself to send wishes on this occasion. Knowing that the UK Government is giving travel advice specifically for women travelling to India to be cautious because of the rising cases of sexual assault and rape makes me feel angry. When the Delhi gangrape case of December 2012 was brought to light, I wrote a blog questioning the ideology of Indian men. Over a year later, has much really changed? Have lessons been learnt? Has the Indian Government and have the Indian people protested or done something enough for things to change? The answer to me, an Indian in London is no. I find that very hard to comprehend.
Just a few days ago, I came across a report on the BBC regarding a ‘Kangaroo court’ ordering men in their village to gangrape a 20-year-old lady. Why? Because she was asked to pay a fine due to falling in love with a man from a different tribe. Her family were not able to pay the fine and therefore the most just punishment was deemed by the elders – by the village panchaayat – was that she get raped by the men from her village. 13 men raped her and she was in such a bad way that she had to be taken to hospital. My understanding is that the case is still being investigated. However, I ask… what action, what decision and in what circumstances is rape justified as a punishment or otherwise?
Today, on Republic Day, two other reports have come my way about rape. The first about a 12-year-old boy who tried to rape a 7-year-old girl and the other about a woman who was raped by a male friend in front of two friends. The fact that these stories came to light today has no real significance because since the 2012 case there have been so many others that have come to light and that continue to do so. Yes, cases are being fast-tracked now, one hears that there are also more women in the police force but what of those cases where the police have been the abusers? How does one explain them?
As an NRI, I was hoping and praying that this kind of thing would prove as a wake-up call to India. I now wonder whether it ever will be. Will we ever, with a clean conscience and a cleaner heart, be able to celebrate the independence of the nation in the same way? More than 60 years on, I feel India is going backwards and is on a reverse journey that noone can stop. I commend the work of Farhan Akhtar for his MARD initiative and also, more recently, Bipasha Basu for releasing a self defence DVD to help ladies (and men) to try and defend themselves in a compromising or difficult situation. I feel like the celebrities can be seen to be doing a LOT more than they are to be honest and this year I just can’t bring myself to say I am a proud Indian.
I have no end thought apart from that that saying it’s a woman’s (or girl’s) fault is perhaps one of the weakest, most ill-informed and backward thoughts possible wherever rape is concerned. I have a thousand questions and i’m not getting any answers or actions in reply.