Two events that happened over the past two weeks could be the cause of grave concern to many; the police, the judiciary, the legislature, the executive, the media, and we all as a society.

The gang rape of a Veterinary Doctor in Telangana and the four accused being gunned down in an alleged police encounter six days later and just a couple of days later, the sad demise of the 17 year old girl raped in Unnao earlier in 2017.

Exactly seven years ago in the same month of December, another similar event had shaken the consciousness of the nation. The Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi made the society demonstrate its anger and frustration through a series of protests.

The legislature enacted some serious changes in laws relating to rape.

The Supreme Court issued several guidelines for trial of rape cases.

The executive created a Nirbhaya Fund to create infrastructure for preventing Nirbhaya-like cases in future.

The media reported numerous subsequent rape cases with much more intensity.

But it seems that not much may have changed on the ground in these seven years. Stricter law, wider media coverage, fast-track courts, public outrage, etc. have been inadequate in deterring the psychopaths from committing this heinous crime.

Our deep-rooted frustration at the way cases take ages to conclude and culprits getting away for lack of sufficient evidence has made most of us excited and believe that justice was quickly and well served as soon as we heard the news of the Telangana encounter. Many of us started demanding the same punishment for the other rape accused waiting for trial in prisons and more particularly for the accused in the Unnao case when the victim sadly succumbed to her burn injuries inflicted upon her by an accused who was out on bail.

These two events have highlighted the fact that what is needed is a much wider and deeper scrutiny at all levels. The judiciary, legislature, executive, media, and society; all need to seriously contemplate in which direction we are moving as a society.

The Telangana rape and murder was as gruesome a crime as anyone can imagine. The perpetrators of the crime must be beyond the realm of humanity and deserved to be punished with maximum punishment.

People, media and even some politicians called for public lynching of the rapists.

Then six days later the police declared that they killed all the arrested suspects in an encounter.

No one probably believes the encounter theory of the police, and neither is the police making any effort to convince anyone that it was a genuine encounter.

But almost the entire country started celebrating it as justice duly served. A few lonely voices who tried to raise the question of constitutional propriety were promptly and forcefully shut down by a barrage of guilt-inducing outbursts.

The Unnao police who was supposed to protect the victim appeared washing their hands off by claiming that the victim did not specifically request protection from them, as if the duty of the police is to protect people who seek protection from them.

Let’s have no sympathy for rapists. All acts of outraging the modesty of a woman must be strongly and expeditiously punished. But the question is whether we want the Telangana style of punishment as a template for future cases.

Most of us have largely appreciated the Singham or Simba kind of justice, because deep down we all want the truth to prevail and criminals to be punished.

However, bringing the reel life drama to the real life may not be the final aspiration of the majority.

Because we also know that in real life, the Singhams and Simbas are very few and fallible policemen are too many.

Today let us believe and agree that these were four alleged criminals. Tomorrow these could be four innocent youth.

We need to decide the template we aspire for our society and country.

However, for us as the Society to aspire otherwise than glorify the encounter, all others; the police, the judiciary, the legislature, the executive and the media; need to pull up their socks and be ready to embrace a paradigm change.

And till such a change takes place, I shall refrain from seeking any punishment for the Telangana police officers.

And if such change does not happen for the good, perhaps I would be happy to be encountering another encounter, and another.

 

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Dear Most Men,

I hope you know me. We meet every day.

I am a Woman.

I may be your mother, your sister, your wife, your daughter, your colleague, your friend, your relative.

I could be just the stranger on the street or in the bus or the train.

Seven years ago, I was Nirbhaya; today I am Priyanka.

Sorry, may I correct. Few days back, I was Priyanka; today I am no more.

That fateful day, I had stepped out of my house, like you all do. But I didn’t return home.

I couldn’t, because some men decided otherwise.

And they made my last few hours an unbearable agony.

And they made my family go through the torment since when I had called up my sister to tell her that I was scared, because of some men around me.

Next day, my family had to identify my charred body. Till then, they were just hoping against hope… that I was alive; and safe.

And they knew. They knew that I was raped and killed.

I was no more.

**********

Dear Most Men,

Are you aware that?

I have raged, occasionally in public and many times privately.

My eyes have dimmed with tears and my head has pounded with anger.

I have felt shades of fear when all I wanted was to reach safety.

Are you aware why?

The cause was the same.

That glance or that leering head-to-toe look.

That word or that unwanted touch.

Those eyes fixated on my chest as someone talks to me.

************

Dear Most Men,

Should I tell you that this is just a glimpse of the price I pay almost every day; for being a woman.

Should I tell you that your gender sees my gender as something that belongs to you and can’t accept the fact that I don’t.

Should I tell you that because you are a man, I have to be submissive and bow to your will.

And if I don’t, you will continue to humiliate me, abuse me, touch me, rape me.

If I don’t, I become a ‘thing’ that must satisfy the twisted thought in your head or surge in your pants.

***********

Dear Most Men,

So let me tell you something, something you know, but don’t acknowledge or don’t remember or conveniently forget.

Like you, I am a human being.

Today, I feel dead inside.

A little more dead than I felt yesterday, last month, last year.

Today, I am tired. I am grieving. I’m letting the tears flow.

But that’s today.

Tomorrow, I may stand once again.

Strong; ready to fight.

Ready to do whatever it may take to change your limited mindset.

Ready to show you that a world exists beyond your fixation with your penis.

Will I succeed? I don’t know.

***********

Dear fellow Women,

Stop reading this for a minute; get up, and walk to a mirror.

Look into the eyes you see there.

What do you see?

Exhaustion?

Fear?

I do hope you see determination as well.

Because unless you see determination there, this world will never change.

As women, we are deep wells of patience and fortitude.

Many times, our youth and inexperience is the factor.

Many times, there is a financial cost to reacting, a cost we can ill afford.

Many times, we are afraid.

Take a moment; and a deep breath.

Now recall every moment when you were harassed because you are a woman.

To trusted men molesting you when you were too young to know what it meant; the only thing you knew was that it was not right. But your innocent mind did not even know how to frame such evil into words, so that you could tell someone what was happening to you.

You were never told such immorality existed in the world. You didn’t know who to reach out to.

Some of us, like me and so many thousands of others, pay with their lives.

And the blame for all of this lies with us; with each and every one of us.

For the way we bring up our sons.

Most importantly, because of our silence.

So the next time, do it for any woman you see.

Stand up for yourself when someone demeans you because of your gender.

Stand up for others when they are demeaned for their gender.

Don’t back off. Stand firm. Try it.

Let’s hope to succeed.

*********

Yours fearfully,

Bhaybhit (No more a Nirbhay)

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Five wise men in black and white; Sat on a bench to decide God’s might

Should He live here or should it be there; Writing down a judgement, it could be where

God against God, they pitched in arguments; To reside on a piece of land worth a few cents

God has to live on earth, not in heaven; At their mercy to give Him a peaceful haven

Where was He born or who brought Him there; The wise men sat down to clear the air

My God against yours was what they pitched; Slowly and steadily our faiths got hitched

In black and white sat these five wise men robed; As the very fabric of secularism got robbed

Judgement in pages decided God is man made; Trying hard to let not our beliefs fade

Drawing a thin line between facts and faith; God got reduced to an insignificant wraith

Stop a moment and ask should we even care; Isn’t it in our hearts, God really lives where

Politicians and fundamentalists were quick to make hay; As the nation held its breath, this Judgement Day

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