A major gender discourse is rocking the country and amid this overriding semantics of the Bharat-India divide, the time to question rhetorics has arrived.
What exactly are our political leaders, keepers of Dharma and Godmen trying to propose? Such preposterous claims of a Bharat-India, alias rural-urban, divide and the arrogant diktat of adherence to 'maryaada' (status) and perfect 'sheelwan aacharan' (behaviour) points towards a decadent mindset and a perverse desire to exercise control over women.
One can simplistically argue that the genesis for this diktat lies in the very largely structured patriarchal society. However, this cannot be forwarded as an explanation in the present societal complexity of this century. Compulsorily new definitions have to be thought of, especially in the light of facts which prove that as far as crime against women is concerned, there is no major difference between rural and urban setups. On the contrary, a large number of exploitative behaviour goes unregistered and darkness looms large over the scenario. Probably it is this darkness which blinds the shenanigans of moral upkeep and they lay exposed.
Quite cut off from actual state of affairs, they continue to offer gaffes for perspectives. This could also be a ploy to confound issues and shift focus to preservation of a rather self-styled pristine archaic order through which control over women continue to be exercised. Thus the society reels under a complex dilemma of meanings pertaining to sexual freedom and social norms. An acute conflict remains between liberation, and its consequent subversion.
Very clearly, various sections of our society fear powerful images of a woman's sexuality, since it threatens to upset the existing order. Reprimands regarding free expressions of behaviour, in the garb of altruism follow. Modern expressions of dress, techno-skills, etc are compounded as to be potentially inviting trouble. The concept of purity destines a woman to hide and think of her body as a vulnerable structure which should be protected at all costs. Hence any kind of physical crime brings about a sense of pollution not only to the girl, but to a whole society associated with her. This is the most brutal kind of mindset, which punishes women for being violated, many times overtly-physically and other times mentally too. The numerous suicides of rape victims is a proof of this.
What we now need to do as citizens is to continue to register voices for justice and fair treatment of women in our society. Emphatically and truly, we must work towards a societal mindset change that will see women as equal citizens of a democratic country. Let this gender sensitization begin from our homes. For a country which claims to worship and respect its Devis, it's time to really let the Devis rise.
(The author is an eminent Hindi short story writer)