India's Shame: Why we need to end violence against women

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"Man should learn to give place to woman and a country or community in which women are not honoured can not be considered as civilised," famously said by Mahatma Gandhi. So, going by Mahatma's words and prevailing current scenario, we are forced to conjure up some disturbing images of Indian civilisation, which is as old as 74,000 years.

I fear, but I am forced to say, Indian civilisation is yet to give due regard to women. In a way, Indian civilisation is not civilised enough to respect womenfolk. Since ages, she has been pushed to the corner. And every time she makes a comeback, her efforts are thwarted.

The brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old girl in the heart of India's capital city Delhi is a shameful testimony to our pervert perception towards women. The 23-year-old brave girl is giving her best to fight and survive the horrendous attack on her in Delhi's Safdarjung hospital. Doctors attending her said, "She continues to be in stable condition." "She is alert, conscious. She is making an attempt to breathe on her own."

AIDWA activists stage a protest

Impressed by her fighting spirits, doctors called her a "brave girl" as she had withstood a lot of suffering in the last few days and had undergone five surgeries since her admission on Sunday night.

Hope she survives the crisis. But do any girl/woman deserves to undergo such pain? Absolutely not. Nobody deserves such frightening experiences for travelling late in the night. What does it tell us? That women/girls should avoid travelling late in the night? No, Indian women, who are widely visible in public spaces and reclaiming their position in every spheres of life (including economy), should be free to travel 24X7 without any fear.

She has all the rights to stake her claim as a bona-fide citizen, at a time when India is aspiring to become the world's most powerful country, surpassing US and China. But such high aspirations will merely remain a dream if India does not allow women, which constitutes 50 per cent of country's population, to be bold and brave.

In metropolitan cities of India, women form a huge chunk of workforce. Right from a garment factory worker to an IT professional in India's tech-hub Bangalore, women holding their head high and walking proudly on its streets is a regular sight. But if on a regular basis women will be raped, harassed and abused, then fear will replace pride. She would be forced to keep herself locked in her home. But is it acceptable in the 21st century?

Doesn't it make a mockery of a system where women are not allowed to feel free from all fears? This is perhaps the biggest setback for any government. Since Congress-led UPA government is at the helm of affairs, they should take the responsibility. Taking responsibility is not enough. They have to take action now. Immediate action. Enough of rhetoric has been done. Television, Facebook, Twitter... all are venting their anger. Anger won't solve our problems. Action from authorities which ensures "retributive justice" against all offenders will set an example.

What action to be taken against the criminals should be best decided by the authorities? But action needs to taken; otherwise, sexual offenders would assume that they can carry on with their utterly wicked motives without any restrictions.

As the entire nation is shocked and numbed by the suffering of the 23-year-old victim whose condition still remains "critical", several ways are being suggested as how should rapists be punished? Suggestions are galore. Right from life imprisonment, capital punishment, chemical castration to public flogging and killing of culprits. There are several ways to punish the offenders.

But after punishment what? Will punishment of offenders end rapes in India? Probably to a certain extent as criminals will be forced to think twice before committing any wrongdoings. But punishment has to be delivered at the quickest possible time. However, there are many offenders who are not at all afraid of the consequences and neither remorseful about their acts. In such a case, we need to bring a change in our attitude. Yes, here I am referring to our attitudes towards women. And bringing change in attitude should start from home and school.

If a child (especially, a boy) is made to understand that women are equal and should be respected, such small steps can bring huge change. Now, it is the time to bring a change and hope we can start it right from our homes.

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