Friday, January 25, 2013

Bharat Ratna for Nirbhaya??

Will the Government of India have the guts to confer the highest civilian recognition on the Nameless Nirbhaya, who has become a symbol of courage and defiance for every woman who has ever faced violence and fought back bravely? I doubt it. The Republic Day celebrations tomorrow offer little hope for our women. The usual suspects will receive the usual national awards - the Padmas and more.  Nobody will remember or care who won what even one day after the announcements. Nirbhaya may be given some token recognition. But even that will not be without debate, considering what an embarrassment her death has been to the Dilli wallas. Shame!
I am off to the Maha Kumbh of Literature at Jaipur tomorrow. It's an annual ritual I look forward to.

                                                                         ********************
The two images above record the magical moment  just after I stepped into the icy cold, rapidly moving waters of the mighty Brahmaputra in Guwahati earlier this week. It was a dream come true! The river is indeed magnificent, as the picture reveals.This trip along the banks of the Brahmaputra was right after a wonderful 'darshan' at the centuries old Kamakhya temple close by. Another dream that became a reality! As I am sure some of you know, the Kamakhya temple is the seat of Tantric energy and thought, being a primary Shakti Peeth. I was in Guwahati to deliver a keynote address on Violence against Women. And to present the Assamese of the Year award to Olympian boxer Shiva Thapa, all of nineteen!
 More pictures coming up tomorrow!

                                             Love and self-loathing…
A few weeks ago, I was talking to dinner companions at a lively soiree hosted by a public intellectual. As is the case these days, our conversation kept coming back to the death of the 23-year-old rape victim in Delhi.The erudite husband of a beautiful lady seated at the table, wondered aloud as to what is worse – an acid attack or rape? I was startled by the comment and asked him to elaborate. He said with complete sincerity, “ An acid attack is far worse for a woman since it disfigures her.” Still startled, but not wishing to appear rude, I requested him to clarify further. He answered thoughtfully, “ A rape victim can walk down the street confidently, and nobody will know she has been raped. But what can the poor acid attack victim do? Her scars are there for the world to observe.” Later the same night, I couldn’t get the conversation out of my head. Imagine the ‘choices’ we as women have – acid Vs. rape. One , visible. The other, not. Both violent. In a bizarre context, which is the bigger trauma? If a woman is given such a sadistic choice by an oppressor… would she be in a position to select? “ Please, Sirji…. go ahead and rape me. But… but… hold the acid!” Has it really come to that? Are visible scars far more painful than internal ones? Or is it back to the same old problem faced by women down the centuries :  “Never mind what happens to me behind four walls. Beat me, rape me, throttle me, gag me – but don’t leave any evidence behind. For , if you do, the shame of that revelation  will be far harder to live with than the  lifelong sorrow of the body having been sexually violated.” A woman is an expert at keeping countless secrets. Some of these dark secrets haunt her till she dies. Sexual abuse, often by close family members, is one of them. She is expected to stay mum, or face the wrath of her family and the samaaj at large. She becomes a sullied creature. No better than used merchandise. Her family conspires to pass on the tainted woman to an unsuspecting groom. In all this, nobody bothers to find out what hell the victim herself is going through. Having spoken to several women trapped in such appalling circumstances, I can tell you, there is just one pre-dominant emotion: self- loathing. A woman who has been brutalized physically by a man, is further brutalized emotionally, generally by her own self.
This is how it has always been. Female guilt is rarely understood. It is somehow  not particularly ‘important’ to anybody. People scoff, “ Oh… you women are such whingers! Stop going on and on about your bloody guilt. Or deal with it yourself.” Quite forgetting the larger question :Why should the victim feel guilty in the first place?
We are conditioned to accept ‘our position’ in the overall scheme of things. If a woman dares to defy that assigned position, she is branded a trouble maker…. dangerous to society. She has to be suitably punished. This punishment takes several forms – some are so subtle as to be more lethal than even a harsh beating. When a woman begins to hate herself, it is the equivalent of  a slow and painful death. Day by day, she dies a little. If her family notices and does nothing about it, she herself  accelerates the process. Often, she ends up taking her own life. The family is relieved. It is considered the honourable thing to do. At the back of their minds is the sneaking suspicion that she had it coming. That she had asked for it. That she deserved to die. Rape victims are judged and condemned far more than the dastardly perpetrators of the crime. ‘Why me?” the victim keeps wondering. And the answer she receives says it all : “You obviously invited it. You must have provoked the man.”
Nirbhaya’s case is different. There were not just six penises involved. There was also the killer iron rod. It was not just rape. It is murder. And what has horrified people across the country is that ghastly detail involving her intestines being pulled out. As any student of basic biology will tell you, one cannot pull out intestines from a woman’s vagina. Let’s leave this sordid story here. It fills one with such deep anguish, that Nirbhaya’s excruciating pain during  her courageous struggle becomes ones own.
Who deserves the Bharat Ratna in 2013? There’s no contest. It has to be Nirbhaya.

21 comments:

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Ambika said...

We aren't courageous enough to accept our mistake, blunder, guilt, in dealing with Nirbhaya...
I just hope that she doesn't become another headline lost in the inside pages of the newspapers in days to come...
That would be truly shameful

obssesor said...

She's a better choice than Sachin for sure.

aditi bhide said...

She deserves justice. Hang the culprits,amend the laws and create a safe environment for every woman in India.
Bharat Ratna post this would make sense,prior to it it would just end up being news forgotten.

Sakkaram said...

heh, the names of culprits are well kn own. Why those hordes of screamers did not attack their houses and not killed their mothers, fathers and whomsoever related to? judgment by "law" will take too long a while with vague result. Blood for blood, with not a single extra word. Instead of that, screaming crowds accumulated in masses as monkeys, jumping and waving arms. PS -- the words about India to be made overall safe with that girl being a martyr icon in mind are nothing but shatter of air - India will never be safe until and unless massive executions of law-breakers are implemented with three-four crores of them being decisively sent to heaven.

Upasana Bose said...

It has been excellently stated by you! None else deserves the highest state honor than this girl, who was left to die because of multifarious societal failures, baseless patriarchy and failed security provision being two of the most conspicuous lacunae. People like you can use your pen to make a difference. And it is exhilarating to note that you suggested that, what has been in our minds ever since this ghastly crime occurred.

Jonas said...

Dear Madam, I agree with you that the girl should be given Bharat Ratna for her courage, for her fighting spirit.cant we as individual held the politicians and the system accountable for all the wrong doings that is happening in our country. also what can be done for the law and order system to be changed. do you think it is right for the defence lawyer to say that the girl is in fault which is utter nonsense and pathetic and shows the stage of our law and order. I personally think that these guys should not be given any chance to defend themselves after all that they have done. and even the case is being fought in the court they would find any loopholes and come out free.
From Jonas

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Russel Ahmed said...

Thanks !well written piece to read. Thanks for your logical and rational logics on those issue.

Divya Virmani said...

Mrs. De, yet another well written article. It is extremely sad and mournful each time any one thinks of Nirbhaya. But, that's the hard truth of life in India. Murders like these will continue, infact they already are...unless the aam junta takes the control in their hands and punish the culprits and the government and all the corrupt officials!

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fizzy said...

The fact that troubles me more is.. will that 17 year old culprit be left free in coming years to commit more such psychic crimes.

fizzy said...

The fact that troubles me more is.. will that 17 year old culprit be left free in coming years to commit more such psychic crimes.

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saurav saxena said...

hi Mem,this last piece of your writing was quite enough to shudder my soul once again!!!!...i wish don't have to come across such a bestial event at least in words...i wish such things cease to exist right now..

aadira mohan said...

nirbhaya shud be given justice that would be the bharat ratna for her!

Snehal Mulay said...

why do we think that an award is more important than justice ?

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