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Gang rapes reports daily; what to do?

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The brutality against the Hyderabad Vet has drawn the usual response from all quarters. It is so stereotyped that it evokes no emotions anymore. After a day or two, we go back to our usual ways, till another such event occurs.

This seemingly endless violence goes on unabated everyday and numerous statistics point out that every minute in this country a woman/child is being brutalized. Why is there no introspection on this? The past records show that whatever has been done in this direction has clearly not worked. As always the buck stops at the police and the government. That the government is not doing enough to ensure the safety of the women or for that matter every citizen is safeguarded. But is the answer so simple? Is it possible for the govt to provide for the safety of each woman and child for its 1.3 billion population? The answer is clearly a resounding no. In my limited opinion, the government is responsible to address the problem but certainly not the way it has done so far. The reasons for increase of such incidents need to be analysed a little before we can think of the solutions.

Extremely charged sex filled atmosphere with no one telling the youngsters what to do when they feel tormented by sexual needs and feelings. 

The heading needs no justification or examples. It’s a well documented fact that the children world over are getting more and more sexualized. The media driven lifestyle of middle class Indians is creating the same conditions of hypersexualized children in India too. Is anyone talking to these children as old as 6 or 7 years what to do with their sexual feelings or what are the consequences of sexual activity. The internet and smartphone has made access to pornography as easy as never before. Hence, we have a generation of youth who are moving around with half baked knowledge about sex, and means of obtaining sex that society and law permits. It is very easy to forget that the act of sex in itself is just one part of a sexual relationship. And like all acts sex act too has consequences. Which stage of life this knowledge is to be imparted and who is going to do it? It is not certainly not being done now and every one hopes that this knowledge will reach the intended target on its own.

Undermining of religious teachers and religious teaching

For a long time, the religious teachers had the responsibility to preach and decide societal morality. In the late twentieth century and early twenty first century, the word Guru became a dirty word. Mostly, the word Guru got construed as Sex Guru. It was the misdeeds and human failings of a miniscule of Gurus that took the wretched 24×7 media to paint the entire community of religious teachers as exploiters and sex maniacs. As a result, gradually, the entire support base created by the religious teachers has been lost in the current day. Since the profession of religious teaching took so much of beating, the field stopped attracting talented people. With nuclearising of families and women joining the work force, the religiosity and the teachings of morality related to sex are all but lost. To make matters worse, we left this job to the jurists who themselves are most arrogant but least equipped to address the matter.

Taking responsibility of own safety

Tragic as it might be, there is a failure of judgement in most cases were such brutalizations have taken place. Whether it was Nirbhaya or Priyanka, the ease with which they trusted strangers put them in the danger that hurt them so badly. There are more instances to cite where pub hopping drunk or passed out women got raped by the cab drivers. Agreed, making public spaces safe is government responsibility but isn’t making a sound judgement the responsibility of individual too

Where is the education about consent?

Lastly, but most importantly, our school education is such a failure. The course and curriculum has been created and modified repeatedly be some learned school teachers and professors in and around Delhi, hardly teaches anything of practical use to the students and future youth of this country. To make matters worse, in parts of India north of Delhi, the entire secondary schooling has been abandoned in the form of non-attending schools. The most important part of teenage life when sexual urges are extreme, we have deprived the children even the marginal support system that existed erstwhile in the form of a regular school. More importantly, when is a teenager male or female told about sexual consent, the legal age for valid consent, and that “NO” means NO and “YES” means yes? Furthermore, that the consent is a right of the woman irrespective of her marital status or age. When have we invested in building this knowledge? Let alone teenagers or young adults, even middle aged men or women in India have little care for the concept of consent.

What are the likely solutions?

Tackle gender inequality though religiosity & morality

We have to establish back the respect for religiosity and religious teachings. Easier said than done, considering the battering it has taken in the last two decades. This step has to be undertaken in a concerted effort over a couple of years in a well coordinated effort driven by the government but implemented by the religious heads of all major religions. Failing by the religious heads must be severe yet objectivised. The root of the evil lies in the gender inequities that are getting magnified with more and more women succeeding than men in all works of life. The society is not adequately prepared for this. This preparation will have to be done by the religious teachers. From every TV channel, every satsang and every pulpit, this message has to be delivered that the female gender is not inferior in any way than the other.

The masses have to be communicated that the after death rites and rituals performed by the daughters will not hinder the transition to heaven, rather facilitate it. This message will have to be delivered in a scientific manner that the self aware man of today consumes and digests well by testing the evidence himself. The arguments have to be backed by solid quotes of the scriptures and these references should be verifiable. All this will not happen in a short time.

The usual, oft repeated response to the problem is just the opposite. To say or do something that takes the mind off the long term response. Doing this will help the establishment in dual way. The problem of overproduction of children will also go away slowly. The data and statistics are a clear pointer that the wait for a male child is the only reason now days for producing more than two children amongst Hindus. Contrary to the popular perception, Hindus are equal culprits in overproducing children. The inherent gender inequality is the reason why legislation against pre-natal sex determination has failed to do what it was intended to do. Sorting this problem of gender inequality will provide dividends that cannot be achieved in any other way.

Make sex education a must at the onset of adolescence and get it delivered by religious
teachers in school

After every incident of rape that manages to reach the rooms of news channel anchors, there are pictures of placard holding women urging ‘men not to rape rather than saying women not to get raped’. Well said. But what’s the point of holding that placard when rape has already occurred? The time to teach it is when the adolescent is going to become a man. At the same time woman must be taught the elements and consequences of sexual consent, in the context of our country and society. Most of the resistance to proposals of sex education comes from the parents with the fear that imparting knowledge about sex will promote sex desire and sexual activities in the adolescents. The truth is just the opposite. The knowledge of sex act is being acquired nevertheless through easy access to porn and the acting in the videos make the sex acts as the easiest ticket to heaven while alive. In this way there is no mention of the consequences of the journey to heaven. Delivering sex education will fill this glaring gap. The delivery has to be undertaken by the trained religious teachers because that will emasculate the resistance brought in by the parents and some reluctant teachers towards imparting the right information about sex and its consequences.

Kick the freedom of expression argument
The worst behaviour after rape events is experienced in the conduct of news channel anchors. The 24×7 news channels have denigrated the word news so much that one feels much better off without them. However, their adverse impact cannot be underestimated, considering the amount of this content that is consumed by millions of traders, householders and every place where people are not continuously busy, the poison of so called news channels is spread unconsciously. There has to be strict guidelines about reporting of heinous crimes and the regulations have to be changed so that ‘views’ should not be passed off as ‘news’. The truth is that most times, through these so called news channels what is dished out actually is ‘views’ of a third grade loser that is passed off as ‘news’. Most of the news channels of indigenous origin have neither the resources nor the knowhow to run 24×7 news.

Society is better off without them till they can show that they have the means to run a round
the clock news channel. Though considered as sin to even mention it, lets face it! Internet needs to be regulated. Availability of porn on mobile devices has to be banned. There are technical difficulties in regulating the internet. In the current scenario of advanced ‘AI’, it is not difficult. The will and motivation are needed and the economic impact of the action has to be catered for. Circulation of downloaded porn through mobile phones also needs to be banned in the same manner.

Legislation needs drastic improvement
The current legislation against sexual abuse has clearly failed as it has denied justice to the victims and permitted blatant misuse against men. It is a different matter altogether that, in more cases than not, men have used women to harass other men with false rape charges. Trial of rape cases must be undertaken in special fast track courts set up for this purpose, punishment for guilty be exemplary and punishment for false charge of rape should invite the same punishment as rape itself. Definition of rape should be changed to exclude consensual sexual relations of any type or duration. Consent obtained through fraudulent means should be redefined and all grey areas giving chance for misuse eliminated. Indirectly, all these measures will improve the delivery of justice to genuine victims. Bail provisions for those accused of rape be reworked so that chances of harm to the victims when the perpetrator is out on bail is minimised if not eliminated.

Availability of alcohol and other drugs of abuse
Gang rapes, like other heinous crimes are usually committed after getting intoxicated on some substance of abuse. Sale, availability and regulation of such substances will help controlling the incidence of crimes committed under the influence. 

Exponential rise in reported rape cases in India is a very complex problem with no knee-jerk solution. It is high time that a multi pronged approach be adopted to tackle the menace. We will make no progress till we keep considering it a law and order problem and using it to browbeat every such incident as the personal failure of the prime minister. Also, as mentioned by many a wise people, to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome is foolish. If we want a different outcome, we will have to do the task in a different way.

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