The horror of the mundane

Published: Dec 23, 2012, 03:04 IST | Dr Marie-Lou Fernandes |

When civilisations deteriorate, the first victims are their women, their poor, their elderly, and their minorities � those on the margins of political and economic power.

The Delhi gangrape is undoubtedly a horrific incident, but the greater horroris in the mundane, not in the sensational.

College-goers held a protest rally against the gang rape in Delhi, from Gateway of India to CST yesterday. PIC/Bipin Kokate

The daily molestations and assaults that women face, “petty” crimes often burked by law enforcers, powerless victims regularly turned away at the police station, routine injustices that fall through the cracks of the criminal justice system “non-cognizable” offences that mask the true nature of an increasingly violent society — this is the real horror since it conditions our tolerance. We normalise these daily horrors into acceptable social patterns, and we as a society deteriorate.

As a one-time police officer and the occasional social scientist, it has been challenging to witness this change, as it has been challenging, on a personal level, to be a victim of it. In my recent face-off with land-grabbers in Dombivli, the horror lay not in the crimes of the land-grabbers, but in the complicity of the local police. And if this could happen with me, what then of those with less recourse to power and fewer options?

If society is enraged today over the Delhi gang rape, it needs to use that rage constructively. There is urgent need for reforms to counter the deterioration — electoral (to democratise political candidature) and police (to give professional policing a chance).

These reforms need to be right on top of any manifesto of any political candidate professing good governance. They will become manifesto priorities only when an enraged public demanding death to rapists, becomes an empowered public demanding reform. Those within government and the police, who are still fighting to deliver justice, urgently need this of society, and expect nothing less.

The author was 1991 batch IPS officer (Maharashtra) 

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