Even as the country rejoices in the dawn of a new era in the sphere of ensuring security and dignity for all citizens of the nation, it is inevitable that a society dominated by patriarchy for so long would not easily overcome its qualms of empowering women and respecting their right to life and free will by the mere passing of a law.
No doubt, partial abolishment of the controversial Section 377 by the Supreme Court of India recently does augur well for the collective health of the nation and its individuals as a whole, yet there is another stark reality waiting to be addressed in a scale that carries as much urgency as the issue of the life and existence of homosexual people.
India, as a home to a lot many courageous women and deitified goddesses, would be expected to be particularly protective of its women folk and accepting of their dignity and worth. But what emerges as a glaring fault in the nation’s march to ‘development’ and modernity lies in its inability to accord women the same status and freedom as their male counterparts.
Instances of rape, dowry, witch hunting, female foeticide and infanticide are issues that have become so commonplace in the public domain of the country’s social life that as women ourselves, it sometimes becomes difficult for us to admit our worth and value in a land where our very life and identity perhaps bears no significance. But what is even more appalling is the fact that despite ‘stringent’ laws and protective measures in place, we, as a people, have particularly failed to ensure our nation as a component of civilized society.
The recent incident of Nagaon district in Assam is a case in point. An eleven year old girl was raped and brutally murdered by three youths when the victim was alone in her house in Dhaniabheti Lalung Gaon in Nagaon district on March 23. And what shook the nation in what can be termed as a gruesome crime was the fact that the minor was set to fire and left to die by the three youths after they had already gang raped her.
In a ‘positive’ development, however, the main accused in the inhuman act, 19 year old Zakir Hussain was sentenced to death after he was found guilty by District and Sessions Judge Rita Kar under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act, while the other two accused were sent to juvenile home, as they are still minors and cannot be tried in the court of law.
The judgement indeed is laudable and maybe also sets a positive precedent in containing such crimes against women, but the irony in the trial itself is palpable all throughout. For how much will the death sentence deter further crimes of the same or even intensified nature against women, remains a question that is terrifyingly becoming the norm.
Even when it is very much ingrained in the Indian mainland, the North eastern region of the country has always particularly celebrated women and accorded them much of the respect and freedom they deserve as human beings. But crimes of the aforementioned nature in recent times even in this relatively ‘peaceful’ part of the country has raised serious questions about the emerging mentality of a certain section of the population.
Assam has been a land that has celebrated the fairer sex and to think that such a gruesome incident was only one among the many that has stained the state in recent times, calls for some serious retrospection.
Have we, as a community, in our quest for the riches and the like, compromised with our values so much so that we could not even inculcate basic human ideals and compassion in the minds of our fellow humans? Have we become this indifferent to sufferings? Or have we just degraded so much so that rapes and murders are the norm and not a rarity?
Whatsoever the case may be, even Assam seems to be a case of lost pride now. This north eastern state had the distinction of being one of the safest places for women in the country, even as much of mainland India were already reeling under burning issues related to women exploitation and crime. But in a pathetic turn of events, what should have been a precedent for other states to follow courtesy Assam’s relatively clean human rights record, the tables has turned. And now Assam finds itself in the same vortex of women exploitation that has been plaguing the Indian mainland for so long now.
It’s a matter of great sorrow that Assam, the land where the birth of a girl child is celebrated and not frowned upon, where girls are considered assets rather than burdens and where it is the daughters who are the adored lot of households, is fast transforming into just another land of prejudice and discrimination, where women are viewed as mere objects of play.
Perhaps the explanation of the pathos lies in an increasingly detached world view whereby it is much more natural to crave for gains, rather than to uphold the spirit and soul of humanity. And in any case, just because you are born a man does not entitle you to the body of a woman, if and when it is not under her free will.
Undoubtedly, crimes of this nature persists even against men, albeit in a lesser scale. And as rational human beings, we condemn torture and violence in any form, irrespective of race and sex. However, in the ambit of discussion that we are following currently, the matter is much grave for the females out there. The issue is universal, the matter complex, but the motto should be uniform, all the same- Live and let live.
Merely awarding a death sentence or life imprisonment will do nothing to curb the menace of rapes and molestations, perhaps because we have far exceeded the mental rationale that will prohibit us from engaging in such crimes. If it’s not the mentality of the people we seek to change, no amount of laws and punishment can herald a new beginning. And while it might sound too subversive of the greater law in place, the fact remains that no trial can gauge the emotional and physical trauma the victim had encountered in the first place. We talk about justice, but does justice merely consist of punishing the guilty? Maybe, but not entirely. For me, justice is rooting for the safety of all people, letting them lead a life of their own choice and bearings, and not being forever fretful of the doom that might befall them. In all that we choose to achieve as happy, carefree and conscious individuals, let it be our minds which do all the talking and let our bodies be a mere medium of granting us a Rest, In Peace!