Thursday, 20 December 2012

Rape: Not Another Online Petition

Earlier this week, a girl was brutally gang raped and left to die. Left to die makes it sound simpler than it is. An iron rod was inserted into her vagina and she was inhumanly beaten up and thrown naked onto the streets in the nation’s capital, Delhi.

I realized that this case is just what caused a furore, the tip of the ice berg so to speak. I was shocked when I read an article that called Delhi the rape capital and stated that 400 rapes were reported this year alone. There are tons of cases of victimized women that go unnoticed and unreported.

There are no words to explain what I am feeling now. I wonder how any girl is supposed to feel safe in the country. More surprising is how the chief of the National Commission for Women (which definitely is a joke now) states that women ask for it with their provocative clothes and their western behaviour. Makes me wonder if subjugation and salwar khameezes are the answers to keep our women safe. Mind you though, I am sure rapes happen even in villages where the woman only dons desi wear and don’t know a word of English.

I, for one, do think women have a massive role to play. We should stop accepting status quo. We need to reiterate that we are equal partners in both in the family setup and the society at large. Why shouldn’t we? We are now becoming financially independent and yet at the same time trying to nurture our family and take care of everyone. If anything, we seem to have more work cut out for us because we are expected to play multiple roles.

It is only we as women who can make a change. Don’t let male friends tease you. Don’t let it be if a co-worker passes comments with sexual innuendos. Basically, don’t let anyone make you uncomfortable. I might be able to laugh at something other women cannot digest. Each of us women have to know our comfort level and not stand by and let anyone push our buttons.

It is sad but it is a fact that we sometimes need to be reminded that we deserve better that what is being meted out by society. So do that! Remind yourself that you are indeed important and most often than not, you are what keeps the family going. Remember that just because you are a woman, you don’t deserve second place. You deserve to be an equal partner.

Most importantly, it is only us woman that can change anything. Not by dressing more conservatively or by learning only Indian languages, but by valuing ourselves and by educating our sons and brothers to respect all women. By making sure that they grow up in an environment where all women are treated at par with the men. By teaching them that every woman is someone’s sister, daughter and wife. By ensuring that they grow up knowing that only cowards use force on women and by teaching them that it is unacceptable to raise a hand on a woman.

It should be our most important lessons to our sons, and our most important lesson to our daughters should be to tell them that the society needs women, that without women, the world would be a sad sad place to live in. Tell them that women are not there just to reproduce, but that it is the innocence of every girl, every woman which makes the world beautiful. Teach your girls to respect themselves, and be proud of who they are. Teach them to think and be independent. Show them that they will have everything that your son would get, show them that they are not less than any boy.

On another note, I don’t understand the point of the insane number of online petitions that has sprung up. I alone got about ten invitations to sign an online petition to give the most severe punishment to the rapist. While I am all for barbaric punishment to those who commit this sin, I do hope that people realize that online petitions are not going to change what is going on around us.

In the online world, I myself am quite vocal on a number of topics. Be this this kind of atrocity that happens in my nation, or the protests that are affecting my homeland or even taboo issues like homo sexuality, I am quite vocal and I have over 20k tweets. But I am very well aware that the only thing social media can accomplish is to create awareness and to promote healthy debate, and in very rare cases spur someone into action.

As far as I am concerned, online petitions do zilch otherwise. Look at the whole Anna Hazare issue. Does anyone even have any count of how many online petitions were signed? Did it amount to anything at all? Online petitions in my humble (ok, maybe not that humble) opinion is just a waste of space. Instead, use these media to share your relevant two cents. If you can’t think of anything of value to express, stay back, and let those who know about the issue speak about it. If you really must post something, offer a prayer for those suffering.

I am not going to sign an online petition, but I will share my two cents. I pledge to ensure that any child of mine will grow up with equal opportunities and will be treated with equal amounts of love and nurture. I pledge that my son will grow up knowing that women are to be respected, not toyed with; my daughter will learn that she is no less than any man.

And I think maybe that will change things. Education and education alone will save our girls in the future. It matters not what she wears or says or how she behaves. A woman is a woman and she deserves love and respect, and the right to a dignified living.