Random conversations that made sense in December!

I love talking! ¬†May be that is why I started blogging in the first place. ūüėõ¬†There is nothing like a good conversation to open up your senses or put you into deep thinking. The¬†individual¬†perspectives on relevant or irrelevant matters help broaden your understanding of people around you. In this article, I will be sharing a few of the random conversations I had while I was on a vacation in India.

On my way to Jaipur, I met two adorable girls, a 10 year old and a 12 year old accompanied by their mother. The girls were equally¬†mischievous¬†and intelligent. So, I strike up a conversation with both of them and start asking them about the latest release- Dabangg 2. The girls were quick to say that they thoroughly enjoyed the film and wished we had more cops like Chulbul Pandey in Delhi Police. At first instance, I had a hearty laugh but when I asked them why do they think this way, both of them quoted the Delhi Rape Case. (It was definitely the last thing I wanted to hear)¬†The girls also pointed at an article published in the Times of India which described the failure of¬†Delhi¬†police to judge the molestation of a 12 year old in a moving DTC bus. I was surprised to see how quickly the kids these days can understand such situations. I shared with them an incident that happened with me four and a half years ago. It was a small case of my mobile phone being picked from my trouser’s pocket but it left a lasting impression. It was not the crime which offended me as a citizen but the attitude of the police which came as a shocker. I caught the thief the moment he stole my phone and saw him pass it on to his partner. Though I grabbed one of them by the collar, I could not get hold of the second one as he ran away too quickly. I shouted, created a scene, gathered the crowd and dragged the thief to Uttam Nagar Police station. (Honestly, I have never been so proud of my loud voice and the ability to create a mountain of a molehill. But in this incident, it was my flaws that helped me.) I handed over the culprit to the police and he was taken in custody. A police personnel then took me to the crime site and was quick to throw the case off to Janakpuri jurisdiction as the crime site was 20 centimeters away from Uttam Nagar jurisdiction. I found it absolutely ridiculous but little did I know that the worst was yet to come. When I came back to the police station, I demanded a full body search of the thief though I knew he passed over the phone to his partner. It was at this moment when I got to know that the thief had escaped from the custody. This was more than enough to make me lose my temper and forget that I have a family to worry about and its the police I am raising my voice against. I wrote an FIR report myself as the police was not ready to file one and courageously mentioned ‘The thief was handed over to the police but the police helped him escape and were negligent the whole time. I did my duty as a law abiding citizen but the policemen failed to perform their’s.’ None of the things I did changed anything about the situation. However, when I used ‘approach’, not only did I get a brand new phone, I was also dropped off to my destination in a police jeep in no time. I was asked to withdraw my FIR for obvious reasons. It was after this that I understood that one should stop hoping for protection and justice from them and be their own bodyguards without abusing the law.

As I got to know the girls better, I asked them about their school. They were absolutely elated at the question. It was quite apparent that they loved going to school. Turns out the school in Rohini, Delhi is a public school named after the first Indian religious, education and social reformer- Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Any amount of¬†honour¬†for this man shall be less. I was disappointed when I came to know that neither of the two girls knew about him. The younger one excused herself by saying that she has never seen his photograph or statue in her school, so she has no idea who he was. The only pictures or statues in her school are those of Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Shiela Dixit. (Do I need to say anything more? I am pretty sure you would’ve guessed my reaction. Since these were kids, I¬†preferred¬†to shut my mouth.)¬†I then gave them a fifteen minute talk to educate them about one of the greatest reformers India ever produced and his reforms which paved way for new and liberated India. However, amidst everything I realised, we put him on pedestal by naming him as ” The Father of Modern India” but we do not give him his due respect. That is exactly what we have been doing with everything. We have been worshipping and considering things to be sacred whereas we should be applying them in our daily life. ¬†Late Sri Raja Ram Mohan Roy had been fighting against the rotten ideologies that hold no value in present time for decades. He questioned the popular beliefs of Hindus for years and tried his best to establish gender equality in the country. If only we had followed his teachings and not considered them sacred, we would have progressed much before.

The second¬†incident¬†happened in the metro when I was on my way to New Delhi Railway Station. I was travelling in the normal coach in Delhi metro not in the one that is reserved for women when I overheard a conversation between two middle aged men. And of course the topic of the day was, “Delhi Rape Case”. No surprises there! Both the men condemned the crime and were displeased with the government’s attitude. Everything was going in their¬†favour¬†until one of them started to brag about how he has taught his daughter to stay in “her limits” and he is confident that such a thing will never happen with her. Clearly, this man had failed to understand that the plethora of angry men and women at various hotspots of¬†Delhi¬†have been fighting against the idea of keeping women in bounds. Not only that, he indirectly justified the act and stigmatised the rape survivors. If I were a boy being raised with a sister, I would be ashamed of myself if my sister was taught to guard herself because men have no self-control.

One fine evening, I was having a conversation with my mother about how suffocating Delhi has proven to be since December 16. I did not understand why one unfortunate incident was hyped so much? I understand the aggression of the¬†protesters¬†and appreciate their efforts, but I fail to understand, why are all rapes not highlighted as much. There is no question that this case was horrific, but then which rape case isn’t? I was amazed to see the uprising of people and it gave me a ray of hope too. I could see that there exists a section of the society which recognises the need for a change in the mentality of people, while there is another which demands stricter laws. The former demanded a long term solution while the latter saw short term gains. Also, what’s with the names ‘Nirbhaya’, ‘Desh ki Beti’, ‘Amanat’, ‘Damini’? Why did we suddenly feel the need to give the rape survivor a name? Have we again discriminated or have we been biased in a subtle way? These questions left me perplexed for a very long time and I still do not have concrete answers or may be I am purposely not trying to find the answers.

I was constantly following the international reports about the mishap and the coverage was particularly ironic to the recent media controversy over a rape in Ohio. I am 100% sure, more than half of those reading this article would not even be aware of the Ohio controversy. What saddened me more was that my fellow countrymen did not hesitate in sharing these reports on social media platforms. Some even included them in their blogs with additional graphical details. Ethical and unbiased journalism clearly vanished when it came to this particular case. Some websites tried to generate more hits while juvenile writers and organisations saw it as their claim to fame.

Today, I see three different kinds of people in the society.

1. Who are willing to help and be the agents of change.

2. Who shout along with the former but chicken out when it comes to implementation

3. Who laugh at the situation or try to benefit from the situation. This also includes those who are indifferent.

I don’t know who is worse, the second category or the third? ¬†But there is one thing which is very evident in the Indian middle class and that is the desire to change. I hope it does not fade quickly.

Those interested in knowing more about the ohio rape case the following link summarises a few facts http://prinniefied.com/wp/


What is wrong with RAPE?

Everything… ¬†It should be an obvious answer but not everyone is of the same opinion. In past few weeks, I have witnessed multiple uncanny statements doing rounds in the media. These statements have been rather offensive and insensitive to women and to the rape victims. The post describes my viewpoint on rape and the outrageous comments.

Defining ‘rape’.

Rape is defined as sexual contact or penetration achieved: without consent, or with use of physical force, coercion, deception, threat, and/or when the victim is: mentally incapacitated or impaired, physically impaired (due to voluntary or involuntary alcohol or drug consumption), asleep or unconscious.

For some people who can read and write but cannot comprehend the above definition, it becomes mandatory to state that:

  1. Silence doesn’t mean consent
  2. Consent under coercion (physical or emotional) is not given willingly and sex with a person under threat is still RAPE
  3. Consensual sex with a person, under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is also classified as RAPE since judgment is impaired in such individuals.

There is no such thing as ‘legitimate rape’.

The Republican representative of Missouri, Todd Akin got my blood boiling with his comments on pregnancies due to rape in an interview given to St. Louis television station as a part of the election campaign. Mr. Akin was dumb enough to say, “It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare.¬†If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
Mr. Akin’s appalling statements were subjected to massive criticism on twitter within minutes of telecast.

I personally would like to ask Mr. Akin, what is LEGITIMATE RAPE? I am confused about the interpretation of this phrase. Being a female biologist, I find it quite fascinating to know that female body is capable of ‘shutting the whole process down’. I may only be familiar with books on Human Physiology authored by Vander and Guyton, none of them ever mentioned something as supernatural as that. If female body was blessed with such capabilities, why would they depend on oral contraceptives and hysterectomy for birth control? Moreover, why would even condom be a standard requirement for safe sex? After all, we can voluntarily ‘shut the whole thing down’.

‘Abortion’ of unwanted pregnancy is an individual’s decision.

I do not understand the hypocrisy and double standards of the society when it comes to aborting the unwanted pregnancy resulting from rape. Many people will hate me for saying that I am in favour of abortion. Trust me, I couldn’t care less. A woman, who is raped, undergoes a lot of pain and trauma. In this situation, a child who reminds her of the traumatic experience time and again is the last thing she desires. Pushing women for unwanted birth is unfair to both the child and the mother as the mother can never love the child enough nor will the child be able to develop adequately. Both unintended and unwanted childbearing can have negative health, social, and psychological consequences. Put yourselves in the shoes of rape victims and try understanding their miseries. Be human, just for once and let it be the victim’s decision alone.

If Todd Akin’s insensitivity wasn’t enough, days later, Richard Mourdock, a geologist by trade made a bizarre statement that stamped unwanted pregnancies to be ‘the will of god’. The Republican candidate for the US Senate in Indiana said, “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something God intended to happen“. If republicans are so pro-life, then why did they not oppose George W. Bush’s decision to go on war with Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan? Wars were never something god intended to happen as they deprive the people of their right to live. So what is it that you support, the idea of life or the nonsensical belief? (It’s all a matter of convenience. No? )

Mr. Mitt Romney and Mr. Barack Obama earned my respect by thoroughly condemning the statements made by Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. It’s sad that Romney being a republican spent half of his time in election campaign apologising to the people on behalf of his fellow senators.

In Obama’s words,” I don’t know how these guys come up with this idea. Let me make a very simple proposition: Rape is rape. It is a crime. And so these various distinctions about rape don’t make too much sense to me — don’t make any sense to me.”

Forcing a rape victim to ‘marry’ the guilty is not the solution.

When I was a teenager, my mother often used to narrate to me the incidents of rapes, assaults and thefts that were published in the newspapers. No, she wasn’t a lunatic and I wasn’t dyslexic either, I detested newspapers for their depressing content and she was only trying her best to educate me about the world from early on. I found it very irritating when I was little, but now I thoroughly appreciate her efforts. We both resented the practice of marrying a rape victim to the attacker. When I questioned her about the origins of the practice, she coyly said, “I am unaware of its exact origins, though I do know the thought. The punishment for the guilty is to pay the victim’s father in cash or kind. If he chooses to return in kind, he must marry the daughter he raped”. I can guarantee that both of us were equally angry and I was in particular astonished. Later, I tried searching for the source and I did find the answer(now I know why she was hesitant), but what surprised me more was that even the judiciary in many countries use the same practice as punishment for the guilty.

So, how does this work then? A man rapes a woman and his punishment is to get married to the victim. Is it actually a punishment for the man or are you punishing the woman again? Indeed you killed her twice in my eyes.

And for heaven’s sake ‘Chowmein’ and ‘Age’ have nothing to do with rape.

People like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock are not the only ones in the world who love to make offensive statements. The ‘Khap Panchayats’ and former chief minister of Haryana, Mr. Om Prakash Chautala are not behind. The only difference being, they both blame ‘the western influence’ including food, clothes and the ‘marriageable age’ as causes of increase in rape cases in Haryana and not God. The ‘Khap’ strongly believes that spicy Chinese food can cause hormonal imbalance which upsets the brain circuitry and compels the brave haryanvi men to rape the women. *Claps!* (Why do we even listen to them?) To make matters worse, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader and former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala backed the view of khaps, that the marriageable age for girl be lowered to 16 to prevent the rising number of rapes in the state. Justifying his stand, Chautala said even in the Mughal era people would marry off their daughters early to save them from atrocities of the Mughals. However Mr. Chautala certainly doesn’t understand that we are out of the Mughal era and Chinese food is actually quite bland. It is the ‘Indian Chinese’ which is spicy.

Since sociology is not my major, I cannot give a detailed analysis or a report on the factors responsible for rape and the possible solutions. As a woman, based on my observation and reading, I can definitely say that RAPE is independent of caste, sex, creed, religion, age or food. It is one thing that can happen anywhere, to anyone and in any circumstance. What causes rape is debateable, what can prevent it is not. If we start respecting each other as individuals and become more sensitive to the needs of others, world would be a better place. Get rid of the beliefs which stop you from progressing and think freely.

And as for the woman in the picture above, she definitely would have abused ginormously and even kicked you in the balls if she was able to.