Feminism is now getting modern. The feminist movement has achieved much in the past like the right to equal pay, equal opportunities, the right to drive a car, and even the right to vote. But the job is not yet done. The right of not being treated as an object is yet to be achieved.
We have witnessed many cases of rape, domestic violence, female foeticide, bride burning, dowry and trafficking in the last many years. All have one thing in common – the exploitation of women. Sometimes women are the subject and sometimes the object. The debate on ‘why only women’ have been going on since decades, but nothing much has been done.
New Delhi saw the most hideous case of gang-rape: the December 16 gang rape ‘case’ in 2012. It shocked the nation and awakened the youth. The relentless brutality in the moving bus started a new revolution. The streets witnessed young people fighting for the innocent girl and also for a ‘big change’ in the system and society. For those moments of radical transformation, most of them turned into ‘feminists’ -- men and women together.
The Justice JS Verma Committee report made recommendations about 10 key crimes, including acid attacks, eve-teasing, gang-rapes, honour killings, marital rapes, rapes by State forces, stalking, publicly stripping a women, sexual harassment in the workplace and trafficking.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 made changes in punishments related to gang-rape, increasing the imprisonment term to 20 years. But no changes were brought in trials related to honour killings, marital rape, stalking, publicly stripping a woman, trafficking and rape and violence under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
Another ‘why’ pops out. Is the woman who ‘unfortunately’ falls in love with a person of ‘other caste’ liable to death or gang-rape? The recent case in West Bengal is a pointer. A ‘tribal kangaroo court’ ordered the gang-rape of a young woman for the ‘crime’ of having relations with a married man from another community.
One of the criminals of the gang rape case was supposedly a ‘juvenile’ as per the laws in India. A person who brutalises wilfully and collectively- can he get away because he is a juvenile? As per the law, a juvenile is under 18 years of age. This person was two months less than 18. The debate continues, should he also not be punished like the other rapists?
Change does not happen overnight. In an entrenched patriarchal and sexist society, women need to change the terms of discourse, theory and praxis. It’s time for a face off.