Yet another attack on a woman, yet another round of outrage on social media. Yes, ‘yet another.’ Terribly cliched but terribly true. Make your own time frames regarding this phase and sit back. Me? No, don’t worry, I’m far from qualified to be part of any worthwhile protest or show of anger – offline and online (well, almost). The most I do is message my female friends in the concerned city, just like last time, to ‘stay safe.’ How will they manage to do so – is something they know best. Take that as a helpless statement or whatever, but some things need not be analysed to great degrees I guess. Having said all this, there’s the usual spurt of angry tweets demanding all sorts of justice for the rapists, seeking changes in the broader scenario and so on. The anger is justified, yes. But, does online discussion turn into anything concrete? Does it need to? Maybe yes, given that such things can affect us the moment we start thinking we’re immune to them. But honestly, much as the online crowd will like to point towards a negative answer, I will still say the jury is out on this, given the complexities of our society and all that jazz. And no, I’m not getting into why the inter-city debate is pointless as well, because there are more tweets saying so rather than the Delhi vs Mumbai thoughts they seem to negate. Neither am I qualified enough to talk about the causes and circumstances leading to crimes against women – in and outside their home. So let me just say I’m pointing out some things I noticed from an overcrowded drawing room discussion to you, with my own two cents added:
1. Don’t treat rape as crime against women but as a crime and act of violence only. Rather, as just another law and order problem. I am sorry, but a thief doesn’t exactly “rape” your jewellery or cash when he robs you. You may think I’m oversimplifying my observation but trust me I’m not. Though I get where these arguments come from, mainly to get clearer on the implementation bit, I’m not sure that works entirely. On the other side, there is the constant argument as well that a crime against women is something more serious in nature and stems from deep-rooted misogyny in society. I tend to agree with that. But at the same time. I’m against generalisation or absolutisation of any kind. Many will advocate some sort of vigilante treatment or the other for rapists. But trust me, that can only be a knee-jerk reaction. Hence, we could look at it as a law and order but not just another crime, perhaps? Just wondering.
2. Women need to be armed/protected. Well, yes they do, given what keeps on happening. But then, apart from the fact that it reflects such a sorry state of affairs we seem to be living in, what about the women facing domestic violence? Do you ask them to carry a can of pepper spray at home as well constantly so they can get back at their violators within the family as well? Yes, I know that’s a stupid thought but then, is divorce also that easy an option. From the many personal instances I know if my female friends, I don’t think it is. So, when some or a lot of women say no, I will not take extra steps to defend myself. I need to feel free in my own city and roads wearing whatever I want to, I would tend to say yes, why not. Otherwise, doesn’t the notion of equality, as utopian as it may sound, get defeated entirely? So why not at least aim to get there, while keeping the men (since all of them are not rapists) as well as women vigilant till then? Again, just wondering.
3. Paid media shields the names of Muslim rapists. These rapists must be from the heartlands as well. Since social media is not without its share of bizarre, so there.
4. Rape jokes need to stop. Much as I support this, given again how funny social media can be, it’s really difficult to impose disciplinary norms on adults expressing themselves in online fora. Moreover, who do we blame here? Men, or women as well? Given how recently one “influencer” used the “rape” analogy for a totally unrelated episode (while proclaiming to be a chivalrous gent all this while), who exactly decides where to draw the line? Or, is there any line at all or is it something we do to feel good about ourselves during such times? This is probably the trickiest ground to tread. And a lot more could be said on this, in an entirely different blog post maybe.
These are my thoughts, and surely not all of it. I’ve tried to jot down as much as I could. And will continue thinking aloud on this in 140 characters for a few more days maybe.