I know what you people are thinking after reading the title of this post. The Glossy Tulips is a makeup and skincare blog, commonly known as a ‘Beauty blog’ but the title of the post seems off the niche. But this being a ‘women oriented blog‘ I believe it imposes a moral obligation on me to pen down a few of my thoughts on the topic, or more appropriately the tragedy, that shook the nation, triggered massive protests from all sections of society, resurfaced an already existing communal rift and reverberated around the world.
Yes, I am talking about Kathua Gang Rape Case. For the unacquainted, in January 2018, an 8-year-old girl Asifa Bano was abducted, drugged, gang raped and murdered in Rasana village near Kathua in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, India. After the story surfaced, there has been a lot of speculation around it. Hindus blaming Muslims, Muslims blaming Hindus and some intellectual ones blaming the system and society.
The case is under adjudication and Court is yet to pronounce the verdict. Whatever be the outcome, there is no denying of the fact that there are some people who did unspeakable things to an 8-year-old child who belonged to a nomadic community. These nomadic communities have no or very little access to basic amenities like – proper housing, healthcare, education etc.
Article 21 of The Constitution of India ensures the ‘Right to Life’ to every person, whether be a citizen or a foreigner. But the system has practically failed in ensuring this fundamental right even after 70 years of Independence.
After the Nirbhaya case in 2012 there had been an uproar about the safety of women in India. This even resulted in implementation of some measures to ensure safety of women and girls. These measures include GPS enabled vehicles, CCTV cameras and a few changes in laws like Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. But all these measures have their limitations and one of those limitations is their applicability only on urban population. Despite these laws and measures the rural population / remote locations / nomadic communities are left vulnerable to heinous crimes.
A phrase ‘अपनी सुरक्षा अपने हाथ’ (English: our safety is in our own hands) is many times used in India. If System and Society do not function properly then we can’t let ourselves and our children be left on their pity. Here, I want to talk about only one prospect….
Could Kathua (2018) or Nirbhaya (2012) have been prevented before happening? If yes, then how? If not, then why not?
By raising this question, I do not mean to blame the victims in any ways. The intention is just to figure out the ways by which we can keep ourselves and our loved ones protected.
1. Women’s Education
Women’s education can prove to be an excellent tool to prevent atrocities, domestic violence, rape, marital rape and other crimes. By education I mean not only institutional education but moral, physical, intellectual, aesthetic and practical education. Education is complete only when the person gets exposure of the real world. This is where the awareness comes from. All round education can really help women in getting to know the true character of the world and their own rights and also to find the ways and courage to fight for them.
2. Sex Education
Sex education is that aspect of getting educated which should be started even before the formal education. This is the type of awareness which should be created in both male and female child. But the point here is that it should create the mentality of equality and respect for opposite sex and not the mindset of sexism. Children should be taught about their body, the private parts and what is and is not appropriate. This awareness can help a lot in avoiding any untoward incidents even much later on in life.
3. Self defense training
Self defense moves should be taught to children and women so that they would be able to defend themselves and their loved ones if someone physically attacks them. These trainings also help create an extra sense of awareness in that person. Girls should also be given general safety tips by their parents and teachers like, being aware of your surroundings, only walking and parking in well-lit areas and a general sense of awareness towards actions of others.
4. Rural development and social upliftment
It is easier to incorporate all the above things in urban society and lifestyle. But in rural areas it’s not that easy. Many orthodox and obsolete customs, lack of education, poverty and social backwardness become hurdles in creating a sense of independence and safety in rural women. Measures for rural development and social upliftment should be taken to eradicate these hurdles. These ways may sound like a government agenda. But I assure you that these are achievable by the efforts of us citizens only.
We are seeing enough development in urban society but if we could achieve the similar standards in the rural society too, that will truly be in accordance to Prime Minister Modi’s poll slogan ‘सबका साथ सबका विकास’ (English: together with all, development for all).
5. Change in the mindset of society
Today the most needed thing is the ‘change in the mindset of society’. Be it construction of toilets in villages, social acceptance of rape victims, filing of police report in sexual harassment cases….India is changing. But are these changes enough? We don’t file police reports in majority of motor vehicle accidents. Bribe is a necessary evil in our society. By not taking action we encourage the criminal mentality in a way. Even once when I had an accident, I was told by the policemen themselves “क्यों लफड़े में पड़ते हो, रिपोर्ट मत करो” (why getting into the trouble, you should not file the report). Don’t all these tactics to avoid getting into trouble encourage the criminal mentality? Won’t they commit bigger crimes if not punished for their mischief.
6. Law breakers should not be the law makers
In India, if you have any past criminal record you become ineligible for most of the jobs. If somehow you commit a crime while you are in a job, you will be suspended or terminated from your job. A person who has been involved in any type of criminal activity is not considered appropriate to manage an organisation, do any clerical work or to make decisions for a small section of people. Fair enough. But this is not the scenario in politics. Criminals are considered totally appropriate for making decisions and run the country. They are allowed to contest elections and even becoming Ministers.
What do you think a person who is a law breaker or a habitual offender would do when he becomes a law maker? They will mold the law making process and laws for their own benefit, to save themselves from getting punished. This in turn, saves all other people from responsibility. Although there is an ongoing debate on this topic, I believe that any person who is a convicted criminal must be barred from taking part in politics.
7. Communal unity and harmony
In Kathua case many media houses are investigating the possibility of any foul play or political agenda to create an unrest in an already volatile region. The dispute related to the state of Jammu & Kashmir is not unknown to anybody. There is a speculation that some alien powers may be trying manipulate public emotions to get control of the political scenario of the region for the accomplishment of their separatist agenda. These speculation may or may not be true but there is no denying that they have a substance.
Communal unity and harmony are the ways by which our people and specially our women can feel safe and we could be proud of our motherland. If a person is a true nationalist, he would make an effort to unite the communities, not to divide them.
The things that I discussed above are only a few of the many steps that we need to take to make our country safer place for women and citizens. There could be many more too. I am leaving this thread open for you to suggest the other ways.
- Shalini Agrawal (Author) (www.theglossytulips.com)
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Thanks for reading.