By Rajiv Punj
So we call ourselves one of the oldest and greatest civilizations of the world! Right?
So we say that we worship Durga and Kali. Right?
So we say that Indian culture gives special place to women. Right?
Wrong. Absolutely wrong and rubbish.
We Indians have become the world’s most hypocrite people because recent incidents such as the Delhi gangrape only expose the hollowness of our so-called “RICH INDIAN CULTURE” and our much hyped ‘Mera Bharat Mahan.’ Don’t we have any shame left?
When it comes to women, we have become the world’s most exploitative society. The most unfortunate Delhi gangrape represented just the blip of violence against women. But the only good to come out of it was that this incident became a rallying cry for the cause of women’s safety – something which never shook our collective conscience. The nation’s grief over the tragic event unleashed an upsurge of anger and soul-searching – where a rapidly modernizing India presents opportunities and problems for women’s safety. Frankly, the incident cannot be described only as an Indian phenomenon, because studies show that one in three women are beaten or raped in her lifetime in this world.
Whether the rape and murder of the Delhi student, the episodes in Steubenville in Ohio, events in Congo, or even what is happening on the streets and towns in Britain, speak volumes about the atrocities being committed on women. The scale of violence against women and girls is overwhelming. In fact, it is no solace that it is equally worse across the world. But we need to be ashamed that it is worse here, it is estimated that a rape takes place every 21 minutes in India.
Rape is not about sex; it’s about power, anger, violence and domination. The sick minds like the Delhi hooligans are mystified by the violent masculinity glorified in our films. Powerful men will always have consensual sex. Powerless men will never have it.
Rape is the monstrous face of ordinary domestic injustices. It creeps into such people when they see disrespect towards women which originates at conception, with female embryos being frequently aborted. And what begins at home spills into the burn wards of hospitals, full of young women set on fire for dowry, and on to the streets where men harass and rape women with impunity.
The so-called “fathers, husbands, brothers and sons” need to look in the mirror and take responsibility for the ways in which they practice or justify discrimination and violence against women. After all, men who rape are also related to women. And women deserve human rights not because they are connected to men, but because they are human too. We all collectively have to pledge that we have to support women and ensure that each and every woman is given their due by making them STRONG and giving them equal opportunities of growth and education. We all know that if we educate a man, we educate a person; but when we educate a woman, we educate a generation.
Our national strength is not how many missiles we deploy on borders, but it is about how safe and respected our women on the street feel. Make no mistake, strength is measured by the weakest link.
(Rajiv Punj is a senior corporate executive with a multinational)