another rape

another rape

A young woman was raped in Delhi by the driver of the cab she had rented to drive her back from a party. To be on the safe side she had chosen a cab from a supposedly reputed company. Her prudence did not pay off as the billion dollar company failed to meet the basic safety requirements it promised. The driver in question was found to be a repeat offender! In the US the company boasts of a three-step screening we’ve developed across the United States, which includes county, federal and multi-state checks, has set a new standard. These checks go back 7 years. We apply this comprehensive and new industry standard consistently across all Uber products. Seems like they failed to state that the screening was not of the same standard for third world countries.

A petition has been started and has over 5000 signatures already. Good for them but I cannot but compare the situation to our petition that was started a few days ago, after the heinous rape of a six month baby. As I write these words our petition only has 143 supporters.

Children do not matter, and six months old matter even less.

Such is our world.

You have to be their voice

You have to be their voice

I have been very disturbed since I hard of the rape of a six month old baby in Gujarat last week. A friend and I started a petition that has till date only got ONLY 138 signatures. This in spite of our efforts to try and mobilise as many people as possible. I shared my pain and anger hoping that it would garner support. For me it was a sure shot as WHO would not be outraged at a six month old baby being so brutally raped. I guess there are some out there who are inured to such aberrations. I tried again to find out what had happened to that little soul. But my efforts were in vain as there is no news update about that little baby. Is she is alive? Is she gone to a safer place? I do not know. A little baby girl from a deprived family belonging to a remote village does not make good copy. Even the media who normally thrives on shocking news is silent. The life of a tiny child does not make a difference to any one. It does not create the slighted ripple in our society or our collective conscience.

Since that day many more children have been abused. A 60 year old predator raped a 6 year old in our capital city, a 50 year old sodomised a 10 year old again in our capital city. Children continue to be raped and no one cares. Children continue to be abused with impunity and this will not change unless we do something now!

Children need to be protected and need to be taught as early as possible ways to protect themselves. We, as a society, have to shed our moralistic garb and accept the fact that sex education is a must as it can be true first line of defines that can give result immediately. A child who is taught about ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ can save herself from abuse as she is made aware of her body and of the parts that are not to be violated. A child that is taught to say NO and raise her/his voice can raise an alarm in case the ‘good’ uncle/neighbour/friend touches her/him in an inappropriate manner. And I would request the cynics and the Cassandras  to keep quiet as yes it may not always work but even if it does on one case, one child would have been saved. More so sex education is a must in  a society that is highly confused and needs to learn to set boundaries. It is definitely one of the many tools at our disposal. But unless the authorities understand and accept it and introduce age appropriate sex education in all schools, nothing will happen.

Education has to be responsive to the prevalent realities. Something that seems to have been forgotten.

I hope more people will come forward and sign this petition. Once we have a sufficient number then we plan to send it to opinion and decision makers in the hope that it reaches the right destination.

Please forward this petition to all the people you know. Think of that little baby who was violated and who suffers in silence. Please be her voice.

The first lesson

The first lesson

I am still trying to come to terms with the horrific rape of the six month old baby in Gujarat, if come to terms you can. Quite frankly only a very sick society can come to terms with sic horror. I had expressed my immediate reaction in a short blog yesterday while I was still under shock and seething in anger. Some friends reacted to the post asking, quite rightly, what could be done as I had urged all of us to become her voice. One friend suggested a petition. Great idea but we soon realised that it was easier said than done. Who do we petition and what do we ask for. Perhaps one needs to try and decipher, if one can, the whole situation.

My friend wrote in answer to my comment asking the deafening why: many reasons…women and children and second rate citizens, perps go scott free and even brag. There is no fear in the minds and hearts of the monsters. Everything she says is right. But there is more. If such incidents were isolated one would qualify the perpetrator as ‘monsters’; but rapes of toddlers in safe places like schools happens with sickening regularity. And in spite of the outrage, the anger, the lip service promises, nothing changes. So have we become a land of monsters and beasts. The statistics of child sexual abuse seems to point in that direction. Or are we a land of cowards who are able to hurt children because they know that their own kith and kin will protect them in the name of a misplaced code of honour. It is revolting to see how in a patriarchal society like ours, it is the women who shield their menfolk even if it means goings against their daughter! What better champion than your very own wife or mother. Maybe that is where the seed of the habitual ‘ it is her fault’ is planted and add hubris to it and you get the aberrations of your moral brigade and the cause of rape being what we wear, where we go etc. Worth a thought.

But let us get back to the little baby. I was appalled to see that she is no more news. I wanted to know whether she was still alive and listened to all news bulletins and googled like mad but there was no update. The life of a six month old mutilated baby does not make good copy and is not a vote bank either. Whether she lives or dies makes no ripple in our society.

But let us get back to the petition and define the what and who. Every minute lost is the risk of one child too many getting abused. The first thing that comes to mind is how we can protect potential victims. Sadly not much can be done for a six month old but something can be done for 3 years old and those older.

You may wonder why I have put this apparently plain drawing of a pair of scissors. This is what a 3 year old drew after she was raped and being interrogated by a psychologist. I do not think I need to  say more. I just wonder whether our little baby would have drawn the same picture had she been older. After seeing this drawing I could not sleep. It is imperative children are taught to protect themselves and the first lesson is ‘good touch, bad touch’. The next one is to scream NO. This is what an age appropriate sex education teaches to young children and we have to do it urgently. Every nursery school, every primary school has to teach this. But there is a huge problem. In India sex education is taboo. Even our last health minister feels it should be banned! Many across the board feel the same way, be they parents, teachers or policy makers.

So why not petition our Prime Minister, as the baby is from his state, to include age appropriate sex education in all schools!

Please be her voice

Please be her voice

A six month old baby is fighting for her life in a hospital in a small town in India. Want to know why? She was RAPED by an acquaintance of her family in whose care she had been left. When I heard this news my blood ran called and my heart stopped. I could not begin to imagine what that baby girl went through. Better not go there as its is true gruesome and abhorrent. Six month old! How can anyone do such a monstrous crime. I cannot envision how such a horrific can act can be committed. A six month old is a little bundle of joy that trusts you implicitly and  needs to be loved, cared for and kept safe. May God be kind to that child and take her away from the barbarity of this world that she sadly encountered so early inner tiny life.

Too many questions come to mind. First of all the sickening realisation that if the man is given the minimum punishment under the existing laws it would be just even years. The perpetrator of course is  claiming his innocence and his family as always the case in child sexual abuse in India, is threatening the victim’s family with dire consequences. In this case the victim is voiceless even if she survives and totally and utterly voiceless. I ask each one of us to become her voice.

I would also like to ask all the guardians of morality who revel in finding outrageous causes for rape such as the ways girl dress, or the fact that they carry mobile phones what this baby did wrong. Did she wear the wrong diaper or was playing with the wrong rattle. Maybe they will find something in order to protect the man: boys will be boys was what a politician said!

I am totally lost.

There they go again…

There they go again…

Can one ever become inured to the preposterous so called diktat of self styled religious organisation targeting as always: women! What is infuriating is the ease with which they trivialise a horrific crime like rape. Version 2014 emanates yet again from Haryana states: “if women dress up skimpily, men will be attracted and mistakes may happen. It is better to look into the way you dress up. Rapes will not decrease if you wear such clothes. So, wear decent clothes.” May I remind you that 2 years ago the same kind of people said that eating chowmein increases the incidence of rape. We have just voted in a Government who promised to ensure safety to all women. This is not what one expected.

Women who form or should form 50% of the population enjoy the same constitutional and civil rights as the other 50% namely: men! These are enshrined in Article 19. All citizens have freedom of speech and expression and thus the right to chose what they wear. But it is not the right to dress in a certain way that is the moot question. The question is the linking of rape to a dress or lifestyle code. It would make us believe that all men are potential rapists and what stands between they becoming a rapist or not is the dress of the woman.

As if that was not enough, the UP police responding to an RTI query stated that western culture, mobile phones and lack of entertainment as reasons for rape. The article mentioned a bizarre medley of reasons for rape coming from all over the state.

This is nothing short of shocking and outrageous as it treats the horrific crime as a trivial reaction to external factors. That a small self styled religious outfit says so is bad enough, but when the police of a large state where rape is rampant takes the same road it is unacceptable, disturbing and reeks of patriarchy. If the ones that are meant to prevent crimes, in the occurrence rape, feel that these are due to a pair of jeans worn by a girl or to her having a mobile phone, then God help us all.

In both cases it is patriarchy at its worst. It is so easy to put the blame on the woman and white wash the man. From day one the girl is an unwanted burden. The boy is feted and spoilt and all his misdemeanours are covered up. One can understand a parent doing so but when institutions get in the act it is terrifying.

Rape is a terrible crime and cannot be forgiven or even watered down. It is the worst form of abuse imaginable and a  power trip. The victim, should she survive, bears the scars forever and her entire life is ruined because of that one rape. She can never forget. A rapist is a criminal with a sick mind that needs to be attended to.

The new breed of moral guardians want to underplay the rape issue by linking it to lifestyle. But then what about the 2 year old and 3 years old and eighty years old who are raped. Where did they go wrong.

Things will not and cannot change unless mindsets are changed. How can a proper gender equation be arrived at when the girl child begins her race with a huge handicap. As long as girls are not wanted in the same manner as boys; unless men understand and accept that they determine the gender of a child and not their wives; unless healthy and age appropriate sex education is taught in schools and homes and the word sex is considered just as another word; unless Godmen and social institutions start preaching the right values and expose social ills like dowry and child marriage, NOTHING will change in this country.

No S.. please we are Indians

No S.. please we are Indians

An article by a namesake in a leading magazine begins with these words: The first test tube baby was born in India, 7,600 years ago, and he was called Dronacharya. Ancient sages divined a long time back the leaps in technology we see today, such as stem cell research. This is part of the new credo unleashed by a band Hindu zealots wanting to prove that everything we have now has its origin in Ancient India:planes, televisions cars, missiles and even hold your great test tube babies and stem technology. This is not a joke. The science textbook for class IX: Discussion on assisted reproductive systems names Dronacharya as the first test tube baby:“One day Bharadwaja went to the Ganges for a bath and saw a beautiful apsara named Gritachi. He was overcome with desire, causing him ejaculate. Bhardwaj captured the fluid in an earthen pot (Drone) from which Drona was born and took his name.”! You could easily laugh it away but it is far more dangerous than it looks. Just bear with me a little as this has to be addressed at several levels.

Sex education in schools is a big NO NO. Even our latest heath minister wants it banned. Actually sex education has been opposed by political parties off and on and makes it look like a pornographic experience. On the other hand girls and babies are raped, a 70 years old molests a 7 year old, a teacher assaults his 6 year old pupil and a 20 year old rapes a 80 year old before killing her. I guess in India vaginae are ageless!  None of these innocent victims can protect themselves because sex education is not part of their ‘education’. If they had been told about good touch, bad touch and told to scream, maybe these babies would have been spared a life lime trauma.

I am sure that none of these bigots have had their babies assaulted or raped. If that were the case they would have been the first ones to demand sex education. Let me tell you the truth and I speak of experience even inappropriate fondling by someone you trust scars you for ever and alters your life in more ways than one. The perpetrator may get away with a rap on the knuckles and be ready for his next assault  but the survivor never heals.

So no S.. please we are Indians.

Now in the light of this imagine how a young class IX student feels when he reads the above passage. Today’s youth are all fuelled by macho Bollywood heroes who are the only role models these kids have. The picture above is that of one of our kids taken during a photography workshop held a couple of years back. You can see the attitude and the body language and guess who he wants to emulate. But this kid knows nothing about hormone, urges etc. Imagine if he reads the passage that has been presented to him as Gospel truth and that makes it acceptable to be overcome by desire when you see a woman and the to  ‘ejaculate’ – btw is this world acceptable in the new moral lexicon in the making – then what do you think he will do next time he sees a pretty girl. Gosh. What messages are we sending to our kids and whether we realise or not were are opening the door to more rapes and even giving it the stamp of approval.

Everything is skewed in this country. For the labour law you are no more a child at 14. To vote you need to be 18. To marry you have to be 21 and to drink 25! This equation dos not work for me. You can vote but not drink at your own wedding!

Ejaculate is now kosher but then so should masturbation as it works in tandem. But the S word is not, you have to say values and for the P and V there are ridiculous sobriquets all lace with some notion of shame.

Time to put all this in order.