Writer Kishwar Desai has inadvertently closed the ranks between her forthcoming book and the Delhi gang-rape. The winner of the Costa First Book award is writing about a high-profile gang-rape that took place in a seaside resort nearly five years ago in "Sea of Innocence" - the latest in her
Simran Singh investigative series dealing with women's issues.
Kishwar Desai at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Thursday,25th January 2013, in Jaipur,Rajasthan. Photo: M Zhazo/Hindustan Times
"Co-incidentally, 'Sea of Innocence' looks at the whole subject of rape as a crime novel. I have been working on it for a year or so," Desai told IANS in an informal chat at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival 2013.
Desai's first book in the Simran Singh series, "Witness by Night" looks at honour killing and the second, 'Origins of Love' explores surrogacy in the context of the urban-rural divide.
The 57-year-old author said India has made its women a minority. "You are supposed to be getting them educated but they are still a minority vulnerable to physical abuse," Desai said.
Probing the psyche of the Indian rapist and gender criminals, Desai said "a lot of them do not have relationship with women - they do not have a normal relationship."
"They see their family doing the same thing to a woman That is when the family becomes a mob," Desai said.
Sometime more than 40 men attack a woman because "this is what they have seen at home". "It is very frightening in our society I have dealt with all this in my new book- this particular gender crime, women's bodies, the way they are regarded, certain fixed ideas and the kind of stereotypes western world has of our women," she said.
Desai said the fixed ideas like women staying at home, not daring to cross the lakshman rekha (sacred line), women draped demurely in their 'dupattas' and lifestyle codes, worry her.
"You need a good system of justice and an equally good delivery mechanism. We should not impose any kind of checks and balances on the society, but allow people to act positively in individual capacities. We need corrective laws," she said.
The writer is trying to force a subtle shift in the mindset of readers in India. "People like issue-based books abroad, but in our society, people are not willing to look at issue-based books," Desai said.
The writer, wife of British MP Meghnad Desai, divides her time between India and London.