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O TODAY what you would do tomorrow. As for what you will do today, do it now.’ This injunction was never truer than it will be in 2013, as the world moves into the teenage years of the century. The corporate world is already familiar with the acronym asap (as soon as possible), which displaced the earlier catchphrase ‘I want it done yesterday.’ Following popular protests and blanket media coverage of the heroic struggle and tragic death of the 23-year-old rape victim, it is the turn of the government to understand that other truism: Justice delayed is justice denied. Public expectation is high that the government will fast-track justice, enact new laws and pull out of the mothballs old laws such as the Women’s Reservation Bill to show that it cares about the status and security of women. Everybody knows by now that it is government litigation, mostly department vs department, ministry vs ministry, that has led to such a huge backlog in the courts. Instead of taking a decision themselves, file-pushing bureaucrats pass the back onto judges, asking them to decide on matters where there is the slightest confusion about interpretation of the law. Procrastination being the thief of time, this means that administrative matters, instead of being decided here and now, get postponed to some future date, sometimes 10 years ahead. So if there is one new year resolution that needs to be made today, it is to act decisively and surely rather than let things slide. The government should jettison its policy of pushing issues on the backburner, like it did with the Lokpal Bill, and show that it can get cracking. Or let younger, more impatient leaders take over.
JIBE AT DEMOCRACY
As I read your brilliant editorial, what flashed in my mind were two people — Narendra Modi and Ajit Pawar. Whilst the former encouraged direct violence, the latter engages in violence indirectly, causing deaths of many farmers. Only their methodologies were different. The intentions were the same — greed, for power and money. They have spat on the face of Indian democracy. Yet they keep rising! KK Verma on email If the pilot, the hostess and the passengers in a plane are partying, it c annot be termed as being morally corrupt. It is irresponsible by the book. The plurality of the Indian society is such that nothing stays up forever, like the laws of nature. Your analysis of the situation in Maharashtra was good. Manish Phulre on email
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To remove the reasons of rape
HE ENTIRE country is disturbed by the brutal rape of an innocent woman in a running bus in Delhi. An investigation has been ordered into the lapses by police that led to the tragic incident. The investigation must be welcomed. It is the responsibility of the society to provide security to its women. But I doubt if strengthening of the police mechanism will be of any help. A medical student was similarly raped in Delhi in 2000. The police could not prevent that, it could not prevent this and it will not be able to prevent similar events from happening in the future because the problem has become all pervasive. It is impossible to have a policeman in every bus. The problem of rodents cannot be managed by placing traps in every corner of the field. The solution comes from removing the food that attracts the rats. Similarly it is necessary to remove the causes that lead to rapes. Radical feminist anthropologist Evelyn Reed says that the female is the initiator of sexual activity: “When the female is in heat… she give the sexual ‘signal’ which inaugurates a new estrus season for the species…” She quotes Phyllis Jay: The female “is the sole initiator of sexual activity…” Thus women are genetically oriented to solicit. They wear bright clothes and ornaments, put on scents and walk provocatively. This system of female soliciting and the male responding was suitable for the animal kingdom because role of the male ended after impregnation. This was unsuitable for the human society where male and female have to make a unit to nurture children for 15-20 long years before the child can stand on his own. The problem is that this genetic attraction goes beyond the husband and attracts unwanted persons leading to incidents of rape. It is not necessary that the woman who is raped has worn attractive clothes. The attraction is spread through advertisements, tv and cinema. The woman is presented as a sex object by the capitalist system looking for profits. The agitated male rapes the woman accessible to him. The movie stars add fuel to this fire by giving provocative scenes. There is no need to display a provocatively dressed woman in an advertisement of soap or while launching a new model of a car. Such display of women fuels a desire among men to get women — if necessary by rape. Eldrige Cleaver touched on this in his classic Soul on Ice: “All our lives we’ve had the white woman dangled before our eyes like a carrot on a stick before a donkey: look but don’t touch.” Expressing his torment, he concluded, “I became a rapist.” We must make a strict advertisement policy to manage this problem. The Muslim society has found a solution to this in the burqa. Modern girls often wear a scarf around their face.
rate seating places for men and women. Idea is to reduce unnecessary contact between them. We need to devise a system to honour and respect in-house motherhood. This is not to deny opportunities of work to women for their development and economic needs but there is no need to push every woman into the labour market.
We need to develop a social consensus on how to restrict male-female attraction within the marital space. A strict law must prohibit indecent exposure in movies. Second factor leading to incidence of rape is the demand for cheap labour by the capitalist system. The modern economy wants a large supply of labour to keep wages low. It encourages women to ‘work’. Bringing up own children in the home is denigrated while bringing up children of another as a housemaid is encouraged. Reason is that work done through the market enables businesses to make a profit. The agency providing maid services and the bus ferrying the maid from her house to work can make profit only if women bring up children after entering the marketplace. Thus capitalism tries to destroy all human relationships that are not mediated through the market. This has led to an increase in the area of contact between the male and female. Solicitation was previously undertaken at specific locations such as parichay sammelans. Now it takes place all day long. Once the restraint in solicitation has been broken, rape is only the next step. All religions segregate men and women in religious ceremonies. Churches, mosques and temples — all have sepa-
NOTHER FACTOR providing encouragement to rape is the low sex ratio. India has about 940 women for 1,000 men. This means that 60 men do not have access to women for marriage or sex. They have to satisfy their desires in some other way — including rape. Rod Van Mechelen writes in an article titled ‘Causes of Rape’: “During the past several years, women’s expectations have risen in step with advertisements. When female expectations rise to the point where a significant number of men cannot afford the ticket to women’s hearts, incidences of rape increase.” He tells that there had been two famous mass outbreaks of rape in Gusiiland (Kenya), once in 1937 and once in 1950. Robert LeVine, an anthropologist from Northwestern University, investigated and discovered that in both years the price of a bride had soared beyond the reach of Gusii young men. The point is that rapes will increase if large numbers of men are deprived of legitimate sex. This problem is difficult to handle. Ideal solution is to increase the sex ratio but we are clueless how to go about achieving this. Some communities give sanction to sexual intercourse with brother’s wife. Another possible solution is to legitimise prostitution. We have to find a solution to release the pent-up sexual tension among men who do not have access to women. The outrage that has followed the rape in Delhi is entirely justified and welcome. The demand for death penalty for the rapists and more police protection is also justified. These should be considered. But these will not beget a solution. We will have to remove the root causes of rape. In this direction we need to develop a social consensus on how to restrict male-female attraction within the marital space. We need to devise a system to honour and respect in-house motherhood and reduce the unnecessary ‘forced’ entry of women into the market. We must make a strict advertisement policy to prohibit objectification of women. We must give legitimacy to prostitution or find some other method of providing legitimate sex to men who do not have an opportunity to marry. The problem cannot be solved by increasing police protection. The pressure in the kettle cannot be managed by putting a heavier lid. The fire beneath has to be removed. Bharat Jhunjhunwala is a former economics professor at IIM Bengaluru. Reach him @ firstname.lastname@example.org
SHAFEEQ RAHMAN SAYS MORE THAN LAW & ORDER, CRIME AGAINST WOMEN ARE SOCIO-ECONOMIC WORRIES
Refer to ‘Pawar’s brazen reinstatement..’ by Shoma Chaudhury. You expressed my outrage and disgust at Ajit Pawar’s reinstatement in your editorial. Apart from the research, I love your command of language. Dolly Thakore on email
BHARAT JHUNJHUNWALA ADVOCATES STRICTER ADVERTISING NORMS AND RESPECT FOR HOMEMAKERS
By Vikram Nongmaithem
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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Need sustained, multi-pronged remedy
HE DEATH of the Delhi gangrape victims has triggered a wave of protests across the country. That people are coming out in such large numbers to talk about a safer society for women is a healthy sign. It is estimated that every 20 minutes a women is raped somewhere in India. However, most such cases go unnoticed. In rural areas most such cases go unreported as the victims and their families are hesitant to lodge a police complaint fearing isolation or loss of family honour. The police too is reluctant to file an fir and try to forfeit the victim’s complaint. When it is reported, people justify the crime by blaming the victim itself. Questions are raised about her character and her dressing. Therefore the response to the Delhi incident is quite optimistic and raises hope for a change in attitude. Ordinary citizens are raising their voice against such heinous crimes. Since the incidence, the city has seen massive demonstrations demanding swift justice and severe punishment to the culprits. Had it not been for the vigilant media and women’s rights activists, this case too would have been lost in police files like many such cases. Security agencies such as the police and paramilitary forces are the worst perpretrators of sexual crime in Kashmir and the Northeast most of which go unreported. Since the past many years, we have witnessed sharp growths of such crimes in
Dither not, speed is the dire need
EDITORIAL & OPINION
THE FINANCIAL WORLD—DELHI
MONDAY • 31 DECEMBER 2012
country. An astounding 2,28,650 cases of crimes against women such as abduction, molestation, harassment, immoral trafficking and dowry deaths were reported in 2011 growing at a rate of 18.9 percent. Of course, tougher enforcement of laws, lengthy judicial process and little fear of law among citizens are among the key fac-
tors for recurrence of such incidents, but our socio-economic structure and peoples’ attitude too are no less responsible for such crimes against women. Heightened security and tougher laws only prevent the small number of such cases. In rape cases alone, most victims are humiliated by their relatives and enforcement agencies have minimal intervention in that. Alongside the better law and orders, positive behavioral changes would ensure long-lasting and effective outcomes. Rapid growth of market based economy and rapid urbanisation has altered our lifestyle. Larger work participation has empowered the women and lessened their dependence on male members of the family leading to a growing preference for live-ins rather than marriages. While late marriages are becoming the norm, the media and the pop culture is pushing the children to mature way too early. All these factors create an environment where a large number of people in metropolitan cities face unfulfilled sexual desire. Gratification of these sexual needs without marriage is often through unfair means and leads to sexual crimes. Legalisation of prostitution, a demand often raised by liberals in the society, could be a short-term solution for the fulfillment of sexual needs of unmarried guys and widows but it can never be justified as a long-term policy in an ethic based country like ours. The large gap in our socio-economic structuring is also a big reason for such
The judiciary must stand up to public scrutiny, says new book
S INDIA’S slow justice system occupies national attention, author Dilip D’Souza says the working of the judiciary must stand up to public scrutiny from people. D’Souza’s new book, The Curious Case of Binayak Sen, examines the questionable life term for sedition awarded to the doctor and human rights activist from Chhattisgarh despite doubts being cast on the evidence against him. “I didn’t set out to build a case defending Sen. My idea was just to examine the case that was built against him and see what I could learn. I firmly believe the working of our judiciary can and must stand public scrutiny from lay people like us; and in fact the
greatest respect we can offer our judiciary is such scrutiny. It’s in that spirit I started writing this The Curious book,” said D’Souza, a 52-yearold writer from Mumbai. Case of Sen, 62, was arrested in May Binayak Sen Dilip D’Souza 14, 2007, in Raipur and sentenced Harper Collins to life imprisonment by a Chhattisgarh court on December 24, 192 pages, 2010, for allegedly supporting `250 with Maoists. On April 15, 2011, the Supreme Court released him on bail. The book delves into Sen’s life-altering training in rural healthcare at Vellore’s Christian Medical College, his years The book tries to treating the poor at a mining area show how lack of hospital, his commitment to ending malnutrition and the writer’s dedicated doctors several meetings with him. It in rural areas is then examines the charge-sheet and evidence against Sen, highkilling the poor
incidents as very often sexual offenders belong to socially and economically deprived section. Whether it was the Maulana Azad Medical College rape case or the recent one, the offenders in both were slum dwellers. It often the frustration of these illiterate and economically deprived sections that leads them to behave this way. An imprisonment is no punishment for a slum dweller if he gets food and shelter there without any sense of losing dignity, but for a well settled, literate person it would be the end of a career.
O APART from tightening law and order situation, perhaps what needs some serious attention is — minimising the socio-economic gap in the society. Instead of considering death as punishment for the culprits, focus should be to root out the behavioral problems that lead to such abuses. Education and awareness can be the remedy here. Justice delay is justice denied, therefore speedy trials in cases of crimes against women will increase the faith of victims in the Indian judicial system. Rape is the most heinous crime against women which scars her whole life. It requires a longtime strategy and a sustained campaign for wiping out this malaise from our society as is being done in cases of ragging over the past few years. Shafeeq Rahman is a researcher on India-centric socio-economic a and political databases
SOURABH GUPTA lighting the anomalies. He also writes on sedition and dissects the judgment. Asked if he wanted the weaknesses of evidences as pointed out in the book to help in Sen’s case, D’Souza said: “Of course! It surprises me that these weaknesses — and there are more, not in the book — did not figure in his case. It is this weakness of evidence that is the greatest criticism of the case against Sen.” But D’Souza said he does not exactly know the reason behind Sen’s arrest. “I can only offer conjectures: his work and criticism stepped on too many toes.” Throughout the book, D’Souza also tries to show how lack of dedicated doctors in rural areas is killing the poor. “To me, concerns of community or rural healthcare are a fundamental part of Sen’s story. They are what made him what he is; they are also part of the process by which Naxalites have come to find such a lot of popular support.”
EN, WHO heads the Chhattisgarh unit of rights group People’s Union for Civil Liberties, was branded a Maoist courier for passing on three letters by jailed Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal to businessman Piyush Guha. In the book, Sen says sedition is misunderstood in India, referring to the Kedarnath vs State of Bihar case. How? “With sedition, there is the whole issue of freedom of speech, and what is the place for a law like that in a democracy. But Kedarnath made it very clear: to establish a case of sedition under the law, there must be a direct incitement to violence. That is, someone accused of sedition under Section 124 A must be subjected to this test: did they incite violence? If they don’t pass it, it’s not sedition. It’s that simple. I don’t believe Sen (and many others accused of sedition) pass that test,” explains the doctor. —IANS
12/30/2012 7:55:12 PM