To love and to respect women?

Dr Alok Bajpai traces the root cause of repeated rapes in Uttar Pradesh to fear

This summer Uttar Pradesh simmers in another kind of heat as violence against women continues unabated. There is a surge in crimes against women all over the country yet UP leads.

An ineffective state government bolsters criminals. Irresponsible patriarchal statements by those in power and an archaic thought process expressed even by a youthful, modern and well educated chief minister is adding fuel to fire.

The result is that there seems no end to repeated incidents of indignation, shame and insensitivity towards the female population of the state.

For long rapid urbanisation and the frustration of young men living in metros was blamed for sexual violence against women but now more and more cases of kidnapping, rape and murder of even young girls in semi urban parts of the state and in villages too have been exposed.

The perpetrators range from policeman to petty criminals and sex no more remains a plain simple crime for gratification. It is sexual violence, an act intended to destroy the body too as if ravaging the souls is not enough.

The administration and politicians engage themselves in analysis even as no real solution seems in sight.

Medieval Maleness

The UP male still lives in some medieval concept of ‘maleness’ and the shifting power balance between men and women in society is the cause of increased violence. Couple it with psychopathology and perversions and the audacity of getting away without reprisal of any misdeed has turned some menfolk turns into unbridled animals.

Where atonement fails punishment is required, where punishment fails to deter, incapacitation may be required. On some occasions Mahatma Gandhi actually advised resorting to himsa.

The bigger question now is not the psychological or social analysis into the cause of rapes but its prevention.

Does the failure of political powers in preventing and failure of judiciary in exhibiting a deterrent punishment indicate a lack of fear at least in UP? What is the way out then? Do we want a real class war, a war between the two sexes? Do females have to resort to violence or a large-scale agitation to protect themselves in UP? Why do those who have daughters keep silent? Why doesn’t a mass revolt happen in UP against indignities suffered by women? Is the yoke of power and the pseudo dignity that we associate with female sexuality instill fear?

These are only some questions that each one of us who love and respect women have to answer. And answer them now!

Stop the Rapes

The gang-rape of two Dalit sisters in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh is only the most recent example of the never ending atrocities committed against women. The rapists, belonging to the local dominant caste, hung the body of two girls from a tree after raping them as a public display of their power.

What is also true is a concerted attack by the muscle power on the meek in society. Attacks against people belonging to scheduled castes is also routine and a reminder of what Dr. BR Ambedkar said many decades ago that democracy in India is only a top dressing in a country which is essentially undemocratic. This seems to hold true even decades later.

The people of India participated recently in the largest-ever election in a largely free and fair process, simultaneously revealing the shallowness of our democracy and the tyrannical side of our society and polity.

From the rural hinterland to our industrial cities, from poverty-stricken villagers to trained professionals, from minor girls to men in the prime of their youth, Indian citizens belonging to certain castes and religious groups in India do not yet enjoy a secure right to life.

Essentially Undemocratic

The concern is that people are killed not by an authoritarian state power, but by groups that appear to be growing naturally in a society Dr Ambedkar characterized as ‘essentially undemocratic’, saying that a constitution can provide only the institutional framework of a polity – the working of which depends upon the quick and fair application by those in charge of law and order in the country.

Instead the criminal justice system in the country is quick to arrest helpless youth on trumped up charges of terrorism; many of whom are acquitted by courts after languishing in jails for years while organizations that terrorise people in the name of patriotism and god are left free to spread hate.

In the Badaun rape and murder case the accused include two police men. The police station in charge refused to file an FIR when informed about the missing girls by the father of one of them, a casual wage-labourer.

So what if the accused belong to the core caste base of the ruling party in UP? In a country that is truly democratic, just and fair, whoever the accused is must be tried and punished in full public view if found to be guilty.

Not the first time

The Badaun rapes are not the first time such incidents have occurred. According to data collected between 2001 and 2012 cases of murder, rape, kidnapping and abduction, dacoity, robbery and arson have been on the rise in Uttar Pradesh.

The data for rape cases is up by 20 percent to 1,576 cases in 2012 from 1,316 cases in 2001.

Rape cases against scheduled castes in 2012 accounted for 4.7 percent of total crimes. Kidnapping and abduction and other crimes against scheduled castes have increased 23 percent and 16 percent respectively within a decade.

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