Can we prevent Nirbhaya and Moga kind of cases? In the Nirbhaya case, a young woman was thrown out of a bus after being gangraped. In the Moga incident, a 13-year-old girl was teased and pushed out. In both cases, the victims died.
Both cases led to massive public outrage, humbling the government of the day.
The Justice JS Verma Committee was set up to recommend changes in the law, processes and procedures. In the Moga case, the deputy chief minister (Sukhbir Badal) had to withdraw his fleet of buses plying in Punjab and even shell out around Rs 24 lakh from the transport company funds for the family of the deceased. It's perhaps a first-of-its-kind incident in recent memory.
The question I wish to pose is: are such tragedies preventable? To answer that we have to identify the root cause. And unless the root is treated, all else is reactionary, as is the case now. It comes when the damage has already occurred, as in the Nirbhaya and Moga cases.
Let me explain this. The molesting men are not born molesters. They became one. How did they become, and why did they, are the basic questions to be addressed. But not many are asking this. The incidents are getting lost more in political insinuations.
We need not be shy of asking: who was responsible for bringing up such kind of men? What kind of nurturing environment did they get? Who did not teach them respect for others and women in particular? Who did not teach them good behaviour? Which school did they go to? What did the teachers not teach them? What did they not learn from them? Did they study or just while away time? Were they serious in their studies? Or did they drop out, or fail? What did the school and parents do then? What kind of friends did they have? Were they keeping late nights? Did they start on alcohol or drugs early on? Were alcohol or intoxicants being taken in the house by the father in the presence of the boy who became a molester? Did he take to vagrancy as a teenager? What did the parents do then? Did he tease girls and were any complaints received? Was there domestic violence in his house? And was he witness to disrespect of women? Did he have sisters? If married, how is he treating his wife?
Negligence in dealing with many of these questions creates potential deviants. All men are not similar. We have very decent people who become protectors. On the other hand, we have molesters. The difference is in grooming.
Therefore, the primary responsibility of prevention is in the hands of parents and teachers. They have to stop letting loose a new generation of potential deviants. Once we create better humanity, it will not hurt and disrespect women and the vulnerable.
The answer lies in creating better quality of humanity. The real challenge is: what do we do with millions who are already on the roads, in the streets, homes and buses, as employees and co-passengers?
The answer is: we rework on them. They have a family in their homes. Let their parents and wives step in. Even their siblings and children. Let them become a strong social pressure group on them to never cross the line of decent behaviour. They also have the elders in the house. Each family must resolve not to be ever a participant in disrespect for a woman. And they begin from their own homes and families.
Then come their employers. The work place must take charge. Train them, and warn them that they never indulge in such an act. Their character verification and antecedents must be checked before employment. And refresher training is a must to keep them sensitised. Their habit of drugs or intoxicants should be kept under watch as this is a serious inciter of violent behaviour.
The Moga case was preventable if other passengers in the bus had intervened. Had they protested, they could have stopped the ongoing nonsense and the tragedy.
What is the point in daily prayers, community langar and kar sevas when we are not going to help someone in distress?
Even in the Nirbhaya case, for long period of time, the victim lay naked on the Delhi road after being gangraped. People drove past, but no one stopped.
We must learn citizenship. We are neither taught, nor do we learn it. Good citizenship, learnt at an early age, makes one a good human being who would neither hurt anyone nor will be indifferent at the time of need.
We can think in terms of enacting a Good Samaritan law which makes it legally binding on the community to help and intervene. But law is as effective as its society is willing.
I think while we do this: we also ensure all buses have GPS (global positioning system)-linked buses to capture evidence of accused as well as passengers. It will record evidence of the culprits and prevent their escape. Like in the Khanna bus case, where the driver and conductor let the molester escape. Everyone will be on a watch.
But the overall situation is pretty bad, more so in our region. It's a real shame on us all. What kind of persons we gave birth to and let them become? The onus therefore is back on us, to at least save the coming generation.
(The writer is the first woman IPS officer. Views expressed are personal)