New Delhi, April 16: In December 2012, India for the first time took a firm stand to publicly denounce the culture of rape embedded in our society for so long. The nationwide protest rallies in the aftermath of the gruesome rape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedic student inside a moving bus by a group of men and a juvenile in Delhi for the first time questioned the inefficiency and silence of our political class to address daily rape, brutalisation and killing of women/girls.
The angry reactions of protesters on streets also did one more thing. It broke our studied silence surrounding patriarchy and ugly nature of hypermasculinity that the Indian society has almost started worshipping. The candlelight marches highlighted the deplorable ways in which women and girls are treated in every walk of their lives in a patriarchial society where the birth of a male child is always a matter of celebrations. Unfortunately, the same sort of happy welcome is not accorded to a newborn girl.
Till, Indians did not rally behind Nirbhaya, rape victims and their families were mostly fighting a lonely and ugly battle. The overwhelming outpour of support for Nirbhaya's family to fight for her justice gave some amount of hope to thousands of rape victims that they are not yet abandoned by society. The protests hosted in the country for several weeks, demanding exemplary punishment for the rapists, also to a great extent fought against the culture of victim shaming, a psychological tool which the police and politicians too use to cover up their own inefficiencies.
More than five years later after the Nirbhaya incident, India is once again screaming on roads to stop rapes. Public anger against the horrific Kathua and Unnao rape cases is unlikely to die down soon. If in 2012, public anger was mostly directed towards the brutal nature of the crime, in 2018, it is the open political patronage enjoyed by the accused in both the rape cases that have resulted in a tsunami of dissent that we are witnessing in the last few days from Delhi to Goa.
Thanks to the Narendra Modi regime, first for maintaining an eerie silence over the rape cases, and then failing to arrest several of its own people who are either directly part of the crimes or are found guilty of helping and supporting the accused--posters outside Kerala houses are warning BJP men not to come near them as girls and women stay there.
The reaction on the part of Kerala residents is a testimony to the fear every parent of girl children in the country is experiencing today, especially when the ruling class has washed its hands of the responsibility to protect the female population. Imagine, a day when all women and girls would be put inside a 'cage' so that men can't come near them. This will give rise to another jungle raj.
A few days ago, finally, Prime Minister Modi spoke on the horrific rape cases of minors, the details of which are enough to numb our senses. He said that guilty won't be spared, but it was "too little, too late" as even his women party colleagues like Meenakashi Lekhi and Smriti Irani pathetically engaged themselves in
Either the culprits involved in the Uttar Pradesh's Unnao and Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua incidents are punished at the earliest or the Modi government abdicates its throne, if India is really serious to protect its women. As they say desperate times call for desperate measures.