Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Implications of an Indian Gang-rape

My opinion piece in the Asia Sentinel today:

The moment I heard that the Delhi gang-rape victim was being flown into Singapore, I knew what was going on. That unfortunate woman, whom we will call Amanat, was the victim of a horrible gang rape and mutilation at the hands of a bunch of hoodlums in Delhi. She was clinging to her life. Doctors had removed parts of her intestines at Safdarjung Medical Hospital and she was surviving on life support. It was difficult to imagine that she would be able to live.

As has been reported across the world, generating spreading outrage, the victim, a paramedical student, was brutally raped and assaulted in a moving bus in Delhi on the night of Dec 16. Moving her to Singapore was clearly a political decision. If she had died in Delhi, the public outrage, which was already bursting out of control (a constable, Subhash Tomar, had died during the violent demonstrations at India Gate in Delhi), would get even more fierce. News of her death coming from Singapore would be much more manageable for the establishment. This is exactly what happened. 

Right after the news of the victim being moved to Singapore flashed across TV channels, I tweeted about the same from my Twitter account. So far, I had avoided saying anything about the girl or the tragedy that had rightly incensed Indians across the world; not that my saying anything on this issue mattered-I am hardly Sonia or Rahul Gandhi. 

My response was mute because for years I had been reading about crimes against women in India, including rape, mutilation, murder and communal humiliation (being paraded naked on the streets or in villages by men). In 1994, Shekhar Kapur had made a stunning film on this subject-Bandit Queen. The film was based on the life of Phoolan Devi, a poor girl who turns into a dreaded dacoit after high-caste men in her village gang-rape her. 

Over the years, I have read too many reports to count of girls being kidnapped and raped in Delhi and the national capital region (NCR), including many of such crimes being committed on buses (I personally dreaded living in Delhi for the lack of safety and also worried about my family members when they were out on the streets). Every time I read such hideous stories, I would be filled with anger and revulsion. And it was not just Delhi where such crimes were rampant. It had been happening all over the country. 

Read the full story here at Asia Sentinel.