Delhi’s new government & rape

Published: January 18, 2014
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The writer is a consulting editor with The Statesman and writes for several newspapers in India

The writer is a consulting editor with The Statesman and writes for several newspapers in India

The rape of a 51-year-old Danish tourist is yet another blot on the capital of India. Delhi has developed into this rather ugly, unhappy city where no one likes anyone else, and where rude, vulgar behaviour is not just legitimate but a hallmark of growth.

There is a gender insensitivity that is impossible to understand. Delhiites poured out on the streets following the brutal rape of the young girl last year, who eventually succumbed to the injuries, but apart from a stiffer law, were unable to influence either the police or the politicians into evolving a system of prevention and control. Only two of the men who attacked the foreigner were apprehended and somehow the manner in which the entire incident was handled does not speak well of the authorities at all.

Rape survivors are harassed, their families threatened, not by the rapists but often by the police who make the girl come to the police station over and over again in rather humiliating and traumatic circumstances. Recommendations of various committees and commissions appointed after heinous incidents are not even looked at, let alone implemented, by callous governments. Even today, women, regardless of age, feel totally insecure in Delhi with sexual assault, in some form or the other, becoming part and parcel of daily life. This is not an exaggeration, and a girl has only to use public transport to understand the truth behind this statement.

Strangely enough, the new party that has formed the government, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), does not inspire confidence amongst women. This has partly to do with its rather patriarchal name, with feminist groups openly asking what are the provisions, if any, for the aam aurat. The party, and now the new government, clearly have a position against corruption, but have still to spell out their stand on gender issues. Interestingly, AAP workers had participated in the mammoth protests against the rape of the young girl last year, but failed to cut ice with womens’ organisations which asked them to first form a women’s wing and articulate their position on issues concerning women in Delhi and across India. Nothing substantive has emerged on this till date.

In fact, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal when asked to comment on the rape of the Danish national said, “I don’t want to talk about this right now.” And AAP leader Kumar Vishwas, who is contesting the parliamentary elections from Amethi against Congress scion Rahul Gandhi, merely said that the Delhi police is not under the Delhi government, a plea that was often taken by the Congress government earlier to excuse inaction. Strange really, or perhaps not, that this corruption obsessed government promising change, has little to say about what it will do to heighten awareness and ensure the recommendations for a systemic overhaul are implemented by the centre and the state.

The Delhi police, aware of the VIP status of the national capital, is a little more responsive than the state police forces but even so, it fails to prevent such crime. This particular rape took place in daylight hours, and at a club just a few metres from the bustling Connaught Place. There have been incidents of rape, before the big rape that shook the country last year, in moving vehicles driving through populated parts of Delhi without being detected. After the crime, the police act to block the FIR from being filed by being as non-cooperative and nasty as they possibly can be to the victim and her family. Rapists are not always caught, and even if they are, many more involved in the crime get away scot-free. Policemen themselves have been accused of rape and sexual molestation.

The new government has clearly no interest in security and gender justice. The focus is so completely on financial corruption that issues of import are getting marginalised. Kejriwal, encouraging vigilante activism by asking citizens to record sting operations against corrupt officers and politicians, has no answers for the women of Delhi. Perhaps, he never will, until he and his team move to add the ‘aurat’ to the party that seems to be concerned only with the aam aadmi.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • AngryIndian
    Jan 18, 2014 - 7:48AM

    We can have endless discussions regarding the methods to prevent this dastardly act but the fact remains that unless large segments of our population receive proper gender based education such acts will only continue. Women in India face a host of issues most of which have a strong cultural bias as to why they occur in the first place. To go against centuries of such traditions in a span of few decades is next to impossible unless the society at large together with the government play a decisive role in eliminating a host of scourges that women of India face on a daily basis.

    Let me put things in perspective starting from child birth. It should be no surprise to most readers that India has one of the lowest sex ratios in the world, thanks in no small part to the rampant act of female infanticide in which the female fetus is killed while still being alive. The reason this is done is the preference for a male child as the prevailing thought is that men are better bread winners and that men do not have to pay money (dowry) during marriage. I must however add that this act is more prevalent in the conservative and backward north than in the south and west of the country.

    Secondly, right from a young age women are discouraged from receiving and availing the same benefits as men, be it in terms of accessing education, food, higher studies etc. This mindset of favoring one gender over another is transferred to the kids where men think it is their god given right to preside and rule over women perpetuating a cycle of dependence.

    I could go on about other cultural practices such as dowry but for want of time and space I wont. This scourge of female harassment be it sexual, mental or physical can only be wiped out by a change in mindset of Indians. Until that day no amount of laws, policing or Op-Eds are going to make any difference to the sad state of affairs that Indian women face.

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  • Kolsat
    Jan 18, 2014 - 9:45AM

    Such incidents occur because in India we do not have person with moral authority to instruct people. India has religious leaders some are accused of sexual crimes, some of homosexuality and some of murder. Indian politicians are no better. Currently money rules. Businessmen are only concerned with money and do not care whether they provide good service or the quality of their products. Recently the son of a very well known and rich businessman’s son killed one or two persons in a driving accident but the newspapers have not reported what action was taken which means it has been swept under the carpet and the dead persons’ families have been paid to shut up. This India of today. No wonder it has become rape capital of the world. I as an Indian am ashamed.

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  • water bottle
    Jan 18, 2014 - 10:17AM

    @Kolsat:

    Valid points.

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  • Nikki
    Jan 18, 2014 - 6:16PM

    Write the next essay on extramarital relations in India and the legislation by the new government please.Recommend

  • powvow
    Jan 19, 2014 - 4:40PM

    @Kolsat – ” Businessmen are only concerned with money and do not care whether they provide good service or the quality of their products”

    And what about us middle class folks… Surely we do share the blame here… Unbridled materialism is ruining the middle class. Everybody wants to be a MBA or engineer just for the sake of bigger package… Alcohol which was not prevalent in the older days has become a fashion statement, with most middle class folks flaunting expensive wines and scotch in their drawing rooms. The emphasis is more on celebration, merry-making rather than any meaningful contribution.. Add to that is the so-called “millenials” – punks who have this false sense of self-entitlement. Adultery and extra-marital affairs exist in large proportions across the “financially liberated” middle-class. Parties have gotten bigger…
    We have aped the West on their lifestyle, but refused to adopt their concern and best practices for environment conservation, civic sense etc…
    Unfortunately any attempt to instill education of traditional Indian values is shot down as “introducing religiosity” by the pseudo-seculars, who have failed to provide any alternative, value-based education to the earlier..

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