Lighting candles for the Delhi gang rape changes nothing

Will your maid not get raped by her father-in-law because you are protesting in India?

Anjali Ghosh January 25, 2013
I've been following, yet intentionally trying to ignore this entire circus surrounding me.

People have been demanding  justice, in terms of the death penalty, for those six rapists’ for weeks now.

Close friends, relatives, acquaintances have been debating, protesting, discussing, showing anger blah dee blah.

Amidst all of this, I fail to understand a few very simple things.

Have we been completely blind to the endless rape and assault cases that are reported in the paper every single day for decades?

Are we oblivious to the slave-like state of Indian women outside the 1% city girls?

How does the torture of one girl become more brutal than the torture of hundred others every week?

The amount of energy spent on debating, watching television broadcasts, attending protests, and discussing these issues is almost amusing.

Is this slowly becoming the latest trend with the Indian educated masses?

Is this hypocritical?

Live an empty life and then in our need to show we care, we succumb to "let's protest peacefully" in front of a government who everyone knows doesn’t really care.

Last year the same 'Halla' happened for Anna Hazare and Anti-Corruption drama.

What happened to that?

Today, (as expected) we have all forgotten about it, and moved on with our lives bribing traffic cops away to glory. Would you allow the cop to give you a challan because you skipped the red light while chatting on the phone, without bothering to buckle the seat belt?

I beg to differ.

Okay, instead of deviating on how futile the whole corruption drama last year was, let's focus on the current street show.

The same candle light vigils, the same protests, the same slogans, and the same people too perhaps. Aren't all protests at the end of the day politically motivated?

I don’t know.

Furthermore, mind you, I don't question the intentions of the Indian population, and the frustration is understandable. We all know you care! However, instead of blaming and begging the government to change things for them, how many of us have actually done something about anything?

A simple yet common example would be, we all have maids working in our homes - has anyone ever ventured to ask if they are ill treated in their households? You'd be surprised to hear their stories.

Almost all of our maids/female workers/girls on the street will share the same stories of domestic violence at the hands of drunken husbands, women earning and husbands gambling, childhood rape, education being sacrificed, dowry, early marriages and so on.

Do we have any interest in helping people who need real help?

Do we actually care?

Does your maid getting raped by her father-in-law become less traumatising than what another girl would go through?

Instead of taking a trip to India gate, why not visit the villages surrounding our rich localities where all of our workers live and actually ask poor women if they are treated right? Use our so called ‘high level’ contacts, which usually help us get out of a drunk-driving situation to instead ensure safety of helpless girls, and save them from torture. This is just one thing out of a million little things that can be done to make things better.

Changing the law is just a farce, with people trying to be part of a fancy big cause.

The real cause is all around us. The death penalty of the six men may be a symbolic gesture, but does it even remotely affect the root of the problem?

People have to start changing things around themselves, instead of shouting and begging the government to change things for them. The issue isn't the law; the issue is the Indian mindset.

Would you ever give your driver/cleaner/sabjiwala a tight slap for misbehaving with his wife? How different is he from the men who raped that girl? Aren't ordinary men roaming the streets possible of heinous crimes as culpable as done by the six?

Aren't they to understand that women are not slaves, starting right from the sati period, to villages in rural India, where one woman is shared by all the men of the household as an object, where girls sacrifice their education so the brother can study, or where girls are raped and burned because of inadequate dowry?

Instead of adopting the typical sheep mentality and shouting slogans, a small effort on our part by taking matters in our hands may go a long way. It may be successful in saving a girl's life tomorrow - from becoming a victim of molestation/assault/sexual abuse.

How difficult is it to spread education to the ones around you?

How difficult is it to make people understand the right from wrong?

Sexual abuse is ghar ghar ki kahani (every household’s story) in India, and we're all aware of that. Or are we not?

Too bad Kasab was caught before this new found trend caught up - we all missed out on another opportunity to light some candles, shout some slogans on a boring Sunday.

On the bright side, at least some poor candle makers are able to feed their family.

So maybe not all is lost!

Follow Anjali on Twitter @anjaliighosh
Anjali Ghosh A legal graduate of Cardiff University, who loves to travel and write. She tweets @anjaliighosh
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Rex Minor | 11 years ago | Reply GP65, I do not blame you defening your former country and putting forwad so many valid arguments. You are not on trial nor the whole world is being addressed in this article. This article deals with the situation in India and this blog is not registering many comments from Indian women. Take the religion out of it and pretend that India is inhabited by people who have no faith nor any culture or social laws. The name Hindu was given to the natives of India by the muslim invaders, says SAVARKAR, and Indians by the British invaders say the anglo saxons. Who are these pepole who accoring to Mr Jinnah muslms do not interdine or intermarry and in my observation do not shake hands with other humans. Yet they have suddenly exploded out of proportion and committing sadistic and crue sex orgies against their own women, and here I am not referring to their crimes in gujrat or kashmir against muslim women. No I am talking about their practice against their own folks. this has to be dealt with and will be dealt with. Rex Minor
gp65 | 11 years ago | Reply @Rex Minor: you continue to drag religion in when I am trying to keep it out since patriarchy is part of the local culture in India and Pakistan and nothing to do with the dominant religion in either country. In dhabas in Delhi, there maybe truck drivers who criticize girls for moving around in skirts and unescorted after 8:00 pm. Such criticism at least makes one thing clear i.e. women do wear skirts and do move around unescorted after 8:00 pm. How many women will you find in Pakistan metros freely moving around unescorted in skirts after 8:00 pm? In Pakistan in a school in Rawalpindi girls in their school uniform were attacked by 60 people with iron rods because they were not dressed with appropriate modesty. Meena Bazaar was bombed because women used to come to market unescorted despite warnings. 600 plus girls schools have been blown up in KP and FATA because TTP believes that girls should not be educated. As for rape the laws of your country (yes you claim to be a foreigner but clearly are a Pakistani Pashtoon) favour the oppressor rather than the victim. On top of that there are honour killings and your ministers support it, there are rapes and forcible conversion and no actions are taken, there are acid attacks which are growing by the day. All these are facts but unlike you who bring my religion into this, I have not and will not drag Islam into this because this has nothing to do with Islam and everything to with patriarchy. Yes there is underreporting of rape in India due to the shame associated with rape. But there is far greater underreporting of rape in Pakistan because apart from the social shame, the laws too are against the victim. Against 30% conviction rate for rape in India (which is also low) , Pakistan just has 1%. Sadly both in Pakistan and India women do not enjoy equal rights and women in both places need to fight for them. In India at least the laws give them equal rights and they can go to the courts to enforce their rights. In Pakistan, apart from all ground level social discrimination that women may face, the laws themselves are tilted against the women be it Hudood laws, laws of inheritance, laws of evidence, no laws against domestic violence etc. So please treat this as a humanitarian issue which should be fought by all humane people, instead of inserting religion and making it a partisan issue.
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