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Just society? Delhi rape has people questioning victims again

Just days before the second anniversary of the fatal gangrape of a Delhi girl on a moving bus, yet another sexual assault has jolted the national capital. Yet we continue to question the victim. In the current scenario, women have been forced to ask what will it take to allow them a life of dignity.

ht view Updated: Dec 12, 2014 19:46 IST
Sweta Kaushal
Sweta Kaushal
Hindustan Times
Uber rape,Shiv Kumar Yadav,Uber ban

A 27-year-old woman was raped by the driver of app-based taxi service Uber last Friday as she travelled home from a party. While the attacker, Shiv Kumar Yadav, was arrested and sent to police custody till December 11, Uber is also under fire for flouting security norms. Uber has been barred from operating in Delhi as well as other cities in the country and an FIR has also been lodged against the company.

Reacting to the incident, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said, "We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs." He seemed to hint that it was the Delhi government that faltered on the background check policies and not his company.

Sadly, we, as a society, have not changed much even after two years of the horrifying gangrape of the girl by six men aboard a moving bus on December 16, 2012. The society continues to question the victim. People then had posed questions like 'why did she have to go out so late in the night' and 'why did she board an empty bus'. And now, she is told: 'How dare she fall asleep when she knew she was in a car with a strange man in the dead of the night'. Such an attitude is the consequence of the anti-women mentality of our society.

In large parts of our country, if a girl is allowed to be born, she does not have an access to basic requirements like nutrition and education - not even within the financial parameters of her own family. The brother and the father get a preference because, unlike them, she does not need to go out and work. If she is lucky enough, she might be sent to school and college but she will not be allowed to work.

Women rarely seem to have any say in the major or minor decisions in their lives - be it her clothes, education, job or marriage. For every Farhan Akhtar (and his Mard campaign), there are at least a hundred Yadavs. We, the women, will be safer with a better mindset and not just pretentious Facebook posts and tweets.

Raped in public transport
In December 2012, when the Delhi bus gangrape case came to light, I had several heated discussions with my friends and family members. One of my cousins and a few other people told me, "Why was she travelling in an empty bus? Why was she even travelling at such a late hour? She should have been at home." And these included women.

Sexually assaulted or harassed at work
Four years ago, when a colleague was harassed at work, as a 'kid' in the office I sought to know what exactly could be done. Shockingly, I was told, "Why does she need to dress provocatively at work? Office is no place to flaunt your wardrobe. Why was she friendly with him if she didn't want sex?" Right, because men may flash all their Armanis in office, women do not have the right to dress as they want or behave like a normal human being and be friends with people around.

Raped at home
Almost a decade ago, a friend told me about being sexually assaulted by an uncle. When I tried talking to her relatives, her character was questioned and a conclusion drawn that she did not know her 'culture' and was 'asking' for it.

And now, raped in a fancy cab
Travelling in the ladies' coach of Delhi metro, I overheard a conversation where women were questioning the girl's 'ethics' and how being drunk and out on the streets on a winter night, the victim of the recent rape incident couldn't have expected anything else.

So, a woman shouldn't be educated and doesn't have the right to her share in the family--food or her father's property. And she does not have the assurance of safety even when she conforms to all norms of the society dictating her conduct and life. So, I guess, killing them even before they are born might be far better than not allowing them the freedom to live.

Unless we establish that the blame lies not with the victim but the attacker, the situation is not going to change. The question, raised yet again with the latest incident of rape, is not 'where was the police when the rape occurred', but 'where were we when the rapists were being brought up'? What are we doing to change the psychologies of men and women so violent crimes against women like rape do not happen over and over again?

First Published: Dec 12, 2014 18:42 IST