Open Letter to Society on increasing number of rapes

IBNLive Blog - Dec 25, 2012

Dear Society,
I know you would be reading this with the recent rape incidents in the capital at the back of your mind. It has been a crazy and horrendous week, both in equal measure. As you sit here and read this, understand that there have been 24.206 rape cases in 2011 and the conviction rate is an appalling 26.6 percent, not even ¼ of the cases are being convicted in this country. 733 rapes have happened in the state of Harayana in 2011 with an average of 61 cases per month according to the National Crimes Records Bureau. Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of rape cases (3,406) accounting for 14.1 per cent of total such cases reported in the country.

So why are we infested with such a mess? Aren't we living in something called a civilized society?

Even though I am no self appointed torchbearer for women rights, I truly felt the need to vouch for women who have been abused so abysmally by rabid men who acted like animals. At the root of this repeated crime has been the abysmal conviction rate in the country for rapists. To know that ¾ of the rapists in this country do not get convicted tells you the state of accountability in the state for people who seek justice. How do you expect the criminals not to repeat their crimes if the conviction rates are so low? Doesn't it send a signal to the criminals that you could get away with anything? The offenders would get away and repeat their heinous crimes as long as they do not get punished for their horrific acts of violence. Justice delayed in these cases is more often than not justice denied. Besides the judicial laxity, there is a deeper social reason for this mess; its you who are at the heart of it.

In an era when India is growing economically with vigour, we have to a significant extent lost our moral and intellectual balance. Violence and lust have been the focus point of many entertainment channels who want to increase their viewership. Unlike the western world, where there is a strict distinction between what is for kids and what is not, in India everything is mixed up under the garb of masala entertainment channels. My 14 year old cousin could just switch on the TV site and watch gross and violent reality TV shows even though its way beyond the comprehension of his age. Should he be watching some gory channels at such a young age? Why don't we have the maturity as a democracy to recognize the need to protect the young, till they mature, from pseudo adult content? It is not surprising that most of these rapes are committed by men between around 20 years of age, just after their teens. Not only does this depict violence to the young kids, it also provides them a skewed perspective about women by and large in society.

Have you ever wondered when was the last time anyone in your household told you about a role model who is a female? How many times have you seen people being recognized for item numbers than their scholastic achievements? The social fabric of liberalized India, to put it bluntly, treats women more as commodities than role models that one should look upto. Not only does this ridicule the identity of a woman, it demeans the recognition that well respected and educated women so truly deserve. After all, a woman should be recognized not just for her body but for her achievements and recognition in life. Successful women need to be projected as role models to the future generations in order to create a sense of veneration and admiration towards them. Socially path breaking women should be extolled and their fight against social dogmas should be the point of admiration across the social divide. Unfortunately, some aspects of popular culture is contrarian to this in terms of their priorities, as such a women's success is projected to be merely about her body and nothing else. Shouldn't you be teaching your kids to appreciate and respect a women's achievements? Is this happening in today's urban India, leave alone rural India?

It is truly hopeless when some of your elected representatives have the audacity to tell you that 'most of rape is consensual'. The statements by village panchayats reflect their medieval attitude but that doesn't take away the responsibility that you have in moulding the younger generation with a sense of respect towards women. Articles and tweets condemning these rapes are more than welcome, however the root cause of all this lies in how men are brought up in households in rural or urban areas. The blame, rightfully, is to be placed on the judicial system, the violence depicted on screen and the lack of respect that women are given in society. However, as much as these are true, at the very core of this issue is our responsibility to nurture the younger generation with a social etiquette that treats women with parity, dignity and respect for what they stand for and not what they flaunt at.

After all, the mind gets raped before the crime is committed, that needs to be addressed more than anything else.

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