Friday, February 13, 2015

Public shaming

Here is an article I got to read thanks to @beastoftraal.

It is, as he says, a very compelling read and something that makes one introspect, i.e. if he has the tendency to.

Please read the remaining of this blog after you have read the article. 

What I took away from the article most was this line "Social media is so perfectly designed to manipulate our desire for approval, and that is what led to her undoing. Her tormentors were instantly congratulated as they took Sacco down, bit by bit, and so they continued to do so"

There have been various studies that have been published on online troll behavior. They are said to be mix of sadists, narcissists and psychopaths. 

In our attempt to bring about 'justice', using social media as a tool for public shaming, in a situation where we believe a person has erred, are we, the ones who believe ourselves to be sane and compassionate/empathetic (add any positive adjective that you would love to describe yourself) exhibiting troll tendency at some level ourselves? Especially the sadistic aspect? Or are we all closet bullies? 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Whose fault is it anyway?

Following news on Twitter is at times the most depressing thing. You'd much rather be happy following comedic handles, cute puppy photos, tweets of friends who RT cute, baby animal GIFs.. well you get the drift. 

Ever since the Nirbhaya case, it seems like there is an avalanche on reportage of rape cases. Victims are of all ages. Babies, old women. Nirbhaya was a horrific incident. Shortly after, when I visited Delhi, enroute Maha Kumbh Mela, I remember the driver justifying what 'prompted' the rapists to rape. Something about the couple making out in the bus. There are people who I heard agreeing to, oh, yes. How could they behave like that in public? She put herself out there and asked for the rape. The issue here is, how the justification for rape swiftly happened while sympathetic cluck-clucking continued.  

On another note, I attended talks, which crunched numbers on violence against women in developed countries as against those in India. And how we aren't even 1/84th as bad as the media claims us to be. We are *not* a rape nation. At least, the speakers vociferously claimed, we are not as bad as the Americas of the world, where the number of violent crimes against women were (a certain number I don't remember now) as against India's numbers of *just* (another certain number I don't remember now).

Yesterday morning, tweet-news was about the rape of an 8 year old. Today the Rohtak incident comes to light. I'd daresay there are thousands of cases that go unreported. Some don't even know that they are being raped. Forget even discussing marital rape. Forget coercion. On this topic, I have heard some doctors tell me about the worrying number of women/girls that come for abortion that work in construction sites. Abortion after abortion after abortion where they are used by the 'maestri' or the contractor, or any other 'higher official' who fancies them. Of course, she is a woman. Why bother about protection. Let her get another abortion and come right back to work at the construction site. Look around the developing India. You'll find enough and more spaces where a woman is coerced. She is unwilling. But she does it anyway. Because she is told. She is told to obey. For 'her own good'.  This, of course, cannot be rape.

We Indians will outrage if we talk about safe sex. About sex education in schools. Why tell them what is right and wrong? Between forced and not? This information will make the woman choose. Oh no!! We cant do THAT!! 

A Japanese tourist gets raped and a gentleman's tweet is primarily concerned about India's 'image getting dented abroad'. 

The problem is in our celebrated Indian culture. As much as we have celebrated Goddesses (guilty as charged for typing down a cliche typed down a gazillion times over, right from school essays to newspaper OP-Eds) we don't care for the girl child. The girl child's primary business is to be married off and produce male progeny. Thats all her space is in India. She is a liability. I know of a neighbor who said she'd like to marry at 20 because she didn't want to be a 'burden' to her father. This is an 'educated', forward thinking household. Or so I thought. They didn't fail in inculcating the values of life in their daughter including the concept that she was a burden that was unfortunately placed on the unwilling shoulders of the parents who will later be transferred to the willing/unwilling shoulders of the inlaws/husband. The parents, poor things, need to earn and save to eternity to marry off their daughter in a certain manner, or else the groom and his egotistic family would have a problem. 

Eventually that is all there is. We watch it in movies. We watch it in our families. We watch. We love watching. We love watching serials. Watching outrage tweets. Watching Op Eds. Watching people discuss issues which we'll also participate in because, in our mind's eye we are watching ourselves being very intelligent and a participant in the thought process of our country. We watch the news. We watch our daughters with a hawk's eye. But don't care a damn what our son does. He is a son after all. The society will accept and forgive/forget every behavioral anomaly of the man. He is, after all, a gift. The daughter is the curse.   

Those who work for change, have done so silently. How many of us could claim to know Kailash Satyarthi till he was awarded the Nobel Prize? How many claim to know Sunita Krishnan? There are many, many more, I am sure, working in villages and Panchayats and even the Khaps we love to hate, working for the safety of the women and the people of their own small communities. 

Rapes have been happening for ages. It is the easiest method men and societies have used for subjugation against a woman who is proving to be powerful. What else can a worthless man do? It has been used in war. Religions talk about keeping the children and women safe. But no. At this point the religious will forget their Gods. Children will be killed. Women will be raped and killed and mutilated. And there are others who will take to social media and tweet about wanting to rape/have sex with/ molest/ attack a woman to silence her voice.

Now, on Twitter, it is about "if Congress were ruling during this rape case, such-and-such would have happened". "AAP wouldn't want to fast and do a dharna because election is over". "Where are the BJP's promises about safety for women? They can install cameras for Obama but not for the women". 
As much as I abhor the sanctimonious holier-than-thou bullshit solely directed at women alone, I abhor those who give the issue of rape, and for that matter, any serious issue that has plagued our society for ages, a political angle. This party, that party. Every party, for most part has truly raped this country. The minds of the people. It seems impossible to weed out corruption from the minds of the average Indian who just wants his job done, go home and live his life. 

It will take quite a while to work at the grassroots level to change the collective minds of all the men and women who think a woman's business is to be subjugated. Parade her naked. Rape her. Beat her in front of a panchayat. Disrobe her to teach her a lesson. Rape of the tribal woman / dalit woman has been happening for aeons. No one really seemed to care. It was all hushed up. In rural India, the higher 'caste' man can subjugate/erase/taint a woman or an entire family by using rape as a tool to show his power. Sadly, there is no Krishna to prevent this woman from the Dushasanas of the world. Then there are those who say it is in her karma/ destiny/ horoscope. Oh lord, Oh lord. 

The men and the women of the country hate the women in this country. That has to change. But will it? Is it going to be education that will change minds? Is it going to be God? TV Serials that dole out even more subjugation bullshit? Religious bodies? Lets not even get there because their sole aim will be to take offense and file a case against films or anything in the mainstream media. I don't see religious bodies sitting on a dharna when a rape happens, coz, lets face it, there is neither money nor publicity to be made in championing a cause. Only films are worth their while to file a case on, and be in the news. 

And when will that change happen? When will the women in this country be safe? I wish I had a darn clue. 

Some ask is it enough if you outrage on social media? I don't think so. I wish for a vigilante. For instant justice. For preventing the crime before it is done. What does one do to *prevent* eliminate rape? It is not like Polio, is it? Where a vaccine can be administered? Every solution seems long drawn. Changing the mindset, especially. Then there is the age-old, thirudane thirundhaa vittaal... Adhan avan thirundhi tholaya maattengarane?! 

And how many more women will have to be brutalized? I, like most others wait, seemingly in vain, for the solution. And more than anything else, political parties using 'rape' for tu-tu-main-main is the rape of us all together. Leave the woman in India alone and help her if you can, dear political parties. The country is getting jacked anyway.