But what is most shocking and disgusting is the apathy of the general public which refuses to intervene in such incidents. This refusal is at their own peril for such apathy will only encourage such beastly behaviour and one day the women in their own families will fall victim to it.
In Indian, generally, the self-preservative instinct is very strong. If our lives or the lives of our loved ones are at stake we don’t mind dreaded terrorists walking free. Fear of death makes all of us cowards. As children, we are socialized to play it safe, get safe jobs, and lead safe lives. Risk is taboo and danger to be avoided like the plague. The world derides our sportsmen for lacking a killer instinct. Our medal tally in international sports competitions is pathetic. Our babus and diplomats are too timid to speak their minds in international fora or take bold decisions.
There are more Dhritharashtras among us than Bhimas and this is our curse as a nation. In western countries, courage is seen as a virtue but in India it is seen as a handicap. Parents warn children to stay out of trouble instead of standing up for justice and defending the weak. We need to tell our children to be bold and brave in the face of oppression and injustice even if it means putting our lives at risk. A life lived in fear is no life at all. This craven love of life diminishes us as a people.
Women should also realize that there are no shining knights in this country who will come to their rescue in such situations. Even the government will not come to their rescue. The thugs, if at all they are arrested will soon be out on the streets again. The only way to deal with such thugs is for women to arm themselves. Karate classes, pepper sprays, knives and yes, even guns, will have to be a constant fixture in women’s handbags. It is not a crime to kill someone in self-defense.
The country is going through a good deal of social churn these days. The growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots, the greater freedom and economic independence of women, violence in movies, the spread of pornography, the skewed male-female sex ratio, antediluvian khap panchayats with their Talibanic ideologies - all these form a deadly cocktail that threatens to shred the fabric of society and reverse the gains of decades of social engineering. And, in the case of women, it is not gender alone but also factors like class and caste that contribute to their oppression.
We live in a country where thousands of female foetuses are aborted every day in cities, towns and villages. If parents can hate a girl child so much, then, is it any surprise that total strangers perpetrate such violence on women? If India is to become a safe country for women then perhaps women may need to outnumber men and become the brute majority.
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