A Moment of Self-Reflection After Kathua and Unnao

The Kathua and Unnao rape cases have cast light on the way women are treated in India. Only 5-6% of the rape cases are reported in India, and those who do report it have to face humiliation and harassment from those in power. However it is not the crime itself that stops women from reporting it to the police.

It’s the consequences which are placed on the victims shoulders- character assault, and lack of empathy towards these crimes by the policemen themselves.

As we saw in the case of Unnao, police officers refused to file an FIR against the BJP MLA who had been accused of the heinous rape of a 17 year old girl. He later gave an interview, where he tried to imply that he was being falsely implicated, despite there being evidence that he had actually committed the crime.

Soon after the details of this horrific case came out, another rape case made the headlines- that of 8 year old Asifa Bano. Asia was a simple nomadic girl from a Muslim Tribe protected in Jammu and Kashmir’s Constitution. She was merely grazing horses on 10th January, when a man kidnapped her and held her in a temple. Soon thereafter, many more men came and drugged her. After days of torture, she was killed by two stones to the head. Their motive? They wanted to drive out the nomadic community she was from because of a land dispute.

What should have swift justice ensured to Asifa’s family was stopped by giving the crime a communal twist. After all, there were 8 Hindu men who had been arrested after an investigation which Hindu nationalists claim, was biased. Biased, because they were conducted by Muslim men.

In the fray of the protests organised by Jammu Bar Association against filing the chargesheet, Asifa has been forgotten. A senseless protest was attended by members of the ruling Party. Followed by the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, outrage began to reach it’s heights, and then more protests across India were planned.

Soon, after pressure, the BJP ministers who attended the protest resigned. Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence in a conference where he inaugurated a statue of Dr. BR Ambedkar- a staunch supporter of minority rights. The same minority rights were denied to the Bakkarwals, the 60,000 strong community which saw Asifa Bano being raped.

On Sunday, 15th April, I attended a protest in support of Asifa and the woman who was raped in Unnao. The protest raised many demands, although some were dreams at best.

The Women and Children minister also tweeted about the death penalty, until I realised that it wasn’t going to help.

Sentencing rapists isn’t our problem. Convicting them, and making sure that these rapes are even reported to the police is our problem.

Most rapes in India are not even reported, and the ones that do report this crime have to wait for years and years to get justice, if at all there is any.

But there is little that the court can do if it is the police officers who themselves are not willing to lodge a First Incidence Report or FIR.

What then, does a person have the choice to do, other than to try and take her own life, as we saw in the case of Unnao. The problem is that people in power have had too much much to do, and too little to care.

They have used their position to inflict fear into the minds of the people.

And in Kathua, those who were in positions in the government and those who were members of the ruling party were quick to organise a protest to stop the chargesheet from being filed.

The politics did not fail to disgust any of us, and the BJP faced the voices of thousands of angry citizens who were demanding to just see some morality in what the ruling party’s representatives do. Supporting rapists, of course was never morally correct.

But with the way things are going, it seems as if there is no right or wrong. There is only the left, the right, and the centre.

 

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The Role of Women in Films

 

A few months ago, I was seeing a film, which involved a guy chasing a girl (sometimes literally) and asking her for her number, address, and what not. The girl keeps on saying no, and focuses on her studies like the normal human she is. But the boy doesn’t give up. Skipping the pleasantries, the boy and the girl, in the end, get married.

Now, these films do not show the reality of life, as many of you know.

In reality, situations like these hardly ever end well.

Instead of getting married to the boy, the girl has acid thrown on her face for refusing to get married to a certified creep. Instead of leading a happy life, the girl is sold off by her parents for money.

These kind of films do promote a certain level of objectification. They teach people that it’s okay to stare at and pursue a woman endlessly if she’s dressed in shorts and crop tops (like anyone who is normal); it’s okay to randomly stalk and click pictures of a girl even if she has said ‘NO’ many times.

But it’s not. It is not a joke, and it does not end happily.

I see interviews of many film stars, and they always talk about bringing some kind of revolution to the table. But what kind of a revolution do these stars want? Do they want a revolution against women? Or for women?

Many directors and producers claim their films to be ‘real, authentic, and in keeping with reality.’ But it’s not reality to say that women are comfortable with this kind of staring.

Even in songs, the women are dressed in skimpy dresses and dance of in front of a group of men who ‘order’ her to dance. And they’re portrayed as happy. But why are they happy about being objectified?

Here, we arrive at the role of women in films.

Is the role of women only ‘dancing’ to songs which talk about their body? Is the role of women to bend to the will of men? More importantly, if the role of women is that important in these films, is it okay to subject women to objectification?

First, it’s not the films which need a revolution. It is merely the role of women. Bring me a plot where the boy stalks the girl, but instead of falling in love, the girl makes a stand for herself. Make it a thriller, or make it a horror, but don’t subject the actors who are acting to a weak character like that.

Second, there isn’t a revolution needed for singers, but there’s a revolution needed for the kind of songs they write. The kind of songs I hear are truly GHASTLY. They are so vulgar and so demeaning that it is hard to imagine how one could have written a song about the weight of a girl. Not only are you saying that girls who weigh less are more pretty, but you are also objectifying her and her body.

Third, actresses themselves must put a foot down and think about all the young children who will watch and probably learn from the films about what they are and what they are not supposed to do in an uncomfortable situation.

Fourth, if the film industry is unable to move past its obsession with skimpily dressed girls and violent men with absolutely no morals, then maybe there is a need for a revolution where we start producing contemporary films which show the stark reality that many filmmakers refuse to acknowledge.

As a milennial, it’s never okay for me to see these things going on and to see women not getting their due respect. It’s not okay to see that women are being objectified and their roles are being defined by some people who do not even understand the basic struggles of women.

So, till women get their rightful place in the world, I will not stop writing about the daily issues that concern them, and their basic rights which are still being denied to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happened To Women’s Reservation Bill In India?

When the ‘Modi Wave’ took over India three years back, it resulted in a landslide victory for BJP which formed the government in India. I admit I was also captivated by the image projected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi: A new age, a new India free from all the corruption, all the promises about no disappointment, development at a rate faster than any country had ever exhibited. But I was a mere thirteen-year-old kid, with an easily influenced mind. I saw Modi as a powerful leader, who will deliver under any circumstances or pressure. It might have been true too.

B​ut what really impressed me was BJP’s commitment to go ahead with the much delayed promise of reserving seats for women candidates in the Parliament and state assemblies. That was what had made me support BJP (not that I could vote) in the first place.

It’s been three years and nothing has been done for the countless women who want to be a part of Indian politics. There has been no action taken by the Government with regard ​to reserving seats for women. The current number of women in Parliament stands at 61​,​ which is just 11.1%​ of the total of 545​.

And there is hardly any difference in the number of women BJP MPs vis-a-vis the number of women in the previous Congress Government. While Congress had 59 women MPs, BJP has just two more at 61.

 

This is a sad state of affairs.According to BJPs Manifesto, a  ‘Comprehensive scheme to encourage positive attitude amongst families towards the girl child’ must be made. 
​The mindset towards women in politics and other field remains conservative and backward. ​

We are more than halfway into the term for a political party to be in power. The opportunity to do something good for women has almost passed. The literacy rates for girls are still low. The mindset still hasn’t changed. And Indian society is one which is still extremely patriarchal. 
The one thing that the BJP government can feel proud of is the fact that they have started the path toward development, but the pace is too slow. Gender based violence is pushing women out of the public sphere. They no longer feel safe roaming on streets in a male dominated area. 
​BJP has also launched schemes like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. ​This scheme was launched to check the steep fall in the Child Sex Ratio in the country and to promote the idea of education among families with girl children. 

 

For something revolutionary to happen, the mindset towards women must be combated directly through means of law enforcement. We must move towards a brighter and safer India, where every woman can keep her head high, and join politics to directly make a definitive change in our country.