While public anger has ensured that her rapists are given no room for mercy, the broader campaign to ensure women’s safety on the streets is getting lost in a quagmire of illogical arguments and outlandish demands.
There is an urgent need to reassess what we want from the government in terms of immediate and specific action; here are some of the hyperbolic issues that are threatening to derail the core issue of women’s safety. These make for good points for TV but are like the 9PM news debates - all boom, no action.
Ban Yo Yo Honey Singh!
From being the nation’s most celebrated rapper, Singh suddenly found himself at the epicentre of the ‘dirty lyrics’ debate. An online campaign against his ‘rape rap’ led to his New Year concert in the capital being pulling off at the last moment. So have we found a solution to rising incidents of rape across the nation? Hand over total control to the Censor Board and delete any line that may stir the passions of a would-be-rapist?! Well if obscene lyrics cause rapes, then so do short clothes, let’s ban everything.
‘We have to look within’
The government defence strategy after the Delhi gang rape? Claim that crimes against women were not only a law and order issue, but a social issue as well. True, part of the fault lies with us; we have to cultivate an entire generation of boys who are gender sensitive. However gender sensitivity doesn’t come in a day, so till that utopic day arrives in India, the fear of the law has to be drilled into the minds of antisocial people; otherwise fathers will continue to rape daughters and girls will be molested on buses for years to come.
Give girls more guns!
Since the 23-yr-old’s case was reported, Delhi Police has received close to three hundred applications from women seeking gun licenses. Obviously these are not poor, venerable women who have to take public transport and/or work night shifts! Giving guns to rich and well-connected women (who might want to flaunt it) is not the answer, instead make that no woman needs the weapon in the first place.
Hang them/Cut them!
Much of the initial anger after the assault of the 23-year-old was focused on demanding death or castration for rapists. However the realisation seems to be sinking in that merely the provision of death for rape may be counterproductive, as the rapist would kill his victim to cover his tracks. Castration also has its legal hurdles in India. A death sentence is a far cry when we have one conviction in 635 cases of rape. Arrest molesters, eve teasers and first time offenders daily - convict the accused on a regular basis — then perhaps we have made a start.
Tell us who the victim is:
First it were the folks on Twitter/Facebook who were deriving vicarious pleasure in circulating false images of the victim (before and after she was attacked) On the first day of the new year Shashi Tharoor added to the controversy by opining that the real name of the 23-year-old victim to be revealed. Another needless distraction from the real issue at hand that would dilute this rage against rape.
Does it really matter to know who the 23-year-old victim really was? What religion did she belong to? Where she lived? What should matter is - How many eve teasers were arrested today? How many rapes did the police prevent? How many women officers were out in the streets in plainclothes? The laws are there, the basic infrastructure is available, all that is needed is the pressure to make the system work. So let’s not waste this opportunity to unite - by focusing on the lyrics of Yo Yo Honey Singh.
— The writer is the Author of ‘Tales from Shining and Sinking India’