Lately, our newspapers, television and online media seem to be doing nothing else but lament the plight of women in India today.
The latest buzz was of the not-so-holy Asaram Bapu (calling him 'Bapu' is an utmost disrespect to the Father of the Nation). The tickers on every news channel were about him. One in particular made me sit up. ‘Conspiracy against saints?' it asked.
I didn't know whether it was meant to provoke the followers of this so-called saint, or just a mindless use of punctuation on national television. To make it worse, there were people protesting against the arrest of this impostor. Faith, they say, is blind. I didn't have a reason to disagree.
In a world of Hindu beliefs, the last of yugas is the Kali-yuga where man drowns in his own sins. It is expected to end with an apocalypse. If I didn't believe in it already, I do so now.
There seems to be a rape every minute across our nation. Even little children aren't spared the lust of these monsters. But all we do is grieve, rage, and then move on – to economic development, wars and of course, the lives of celebrities!
The juvenile accused in the Delhi gang-rape and murder was awarded (yes, you read it right) a three-year sentence, inclusive of the eight months that he has already served, in a 'safe' prison.
"Safe prison deciphered is a personal hotel room, with TV installed and biryani on the weekends," snorted one of my friends. That is supposed to be justice.
As my boss once rightly remarked, "If he's old enough to rape, he's old enough for the punishment!"
If only his thoughts echoed with those bringing (in)justice to Nirbhaya.
We are bent on benchmarking India as the 'worst country for women to live in'. Is this the path that we want to tread? By sentencing that young rapist and murderer to a mere three years in a reform home, are we not encouraging more rapes?
Has rape become a crime spicy enough to be seen as a trend? Have we not been shaken enough after Nirbhaya? Or are we waiting for another life to be ruined so we can blame it on someone else?
It's way beyond time for us to wake up, to get off our collective behinds and change this. At least for the sake of all the women we need thank for making our lives better- as mothers, sisters, friends, wives, daughters, lovers...
If indeed there is right to equality, it must begin at home.
Young boys need to grow up knowing that they are not superior or more privileged than girls. They should be taught that no man has the "right" to molest, leave alone rape, a woman. Not even if she's his wife.
Men - and even women for that matter - who say things like "she invited the rape by wearing those clothes" or "she should have called him bhaiyya", must be publicly humiliated and stripped of whatever post they hold. Would they say the same things if their daughters were the victims?
There should be separate special courts to deal with issues like this, with fixed deadlines to deliver verdicts and hand out exemplary punishment.
The trauma that a rape victim has to go through is unimaginable. It's quite easy for us to pray that she were dead, because it's a scar that will never heal – a nightmare she has to live every day for the rest of her life.
But why should we look at her with pitiful eyes? Why should she be punished for being a victim? We must, as a society learn to accept her and treat her with just as much respect and love, as anyone else. Not shun and disown her. She has a right to live. With dignity. It was never her fault.
Our media, which keeps crying itself hoarse over the plight of Indian women, needs to come up with ideas to check this menace. Instead of just telecasting coverage on various kinds of rapes, they should press for justice to those who've been wronged. Let there be a 'Janta ki Adalat' to deal with these rapists, juvenile or otherwise.
Serving a mere 4-7 years in jail is not going to change such beasts. Once a rapist, always a rapist.
We should also be willing to Name and Shame. Predators who commit this sin should be exposed in public, instead of blurring out or covering their heads.
Unmask them. Show their faces to the world. Let them be shamed in open.
In Saudi Arabia, a rapist is sentenced to public execution. Every man – juvenile or not - convicted of rape should face the same punishment: death.
And it should be carried out within weeks of the sentence, not years later. Because there is no other sentence that will reform or induce fear in the minds of prospective rapists. There is no other sentence that serves them right.
Despite every change that a woman wants to see in the world around her, she can't help but crouch into her little shell, petrified by the dark cloud of fear that is fast engulfing her safe little world.
(Vaishnavi Shenoy is a young aspiring writer/photographer, who recently graduated with a masters in communication)