A five-year-old girl was raped in my country. Each word is drenched in pain, shame, anger and misery. I usually steer clear of politics and the like – it’s never been my thing. But this, along with the ongoing violence against women… I now choose to raise my voice. Because I feel I must and because I know I can. And because if we don’t do it now, each and every time this happens… things may never change. We speak of equality and women’s rights. Yet, Sati is still practiced in parts of India. We are proud of our working, educated daughters, able to stand tall next to any man. Yet we entertain the concept of dowry.
Violated at five.Raped, beaten, defiled. Five is innocent and pure. Five is cruel, wrong, and sick. An Indian raises her voices as she ponders, “This is not the country I have defended countless times. this cannot possibly be the government I elected, hoping for a better tomorrow. These cannot be the law enforcement representatives whom we trust to make a shining India for our children. This is not the country I call my own. It can’t be.”
We honour India’s many goddesses. But we are unable to protect our women from the evil that meets them at every turn. India is fantastic. We have the brains that the world pays millions for, and the beauty that the world covets. Art, culture, food, travel, entertainment, literature – you’ll see a little bit of India everywhere. Given the tremendous exposure that our country, its people and our government enjoys – is it wrong to expect more for the Indian woman? Like our men, our women too, have dreams, career aspirations and life goals. Why then, is it all right to expect her to forego all of that, just because she becomes a wife and a mother? Sadly, more often than not, it’s not only an expectation; it’s a demand. A requirement, the supposed appropriate behaviour for the bahu of the house. To keep her tone low and serve herself last at any meal; once everyone else is done with their hot chapattis. To bring income into the home, educate her children, manage a house and care for her family. She may work, but she is, after all, a mother. The daughter of the house. Otherwise, who will believe she came from a good family, has good values, knows her place in the house and in society? Really, now.
There is a lot to be said for the illogical approach taken to the women in our country. However, in recent times, it isn’t about logic anymore. There is no logic in violence. Or murder. Or rape. I raise my voice as a woman. In my country, the government campaigns to save the girl child. It is against the law to determine the gender of an unborn child. Bravo.
But in my country, women are raped every day. The parents of a five-year-old girl, were offered money to keep quiet about the horror their child had been put through. By the police, no less. It plays like a dreadful horror story, a documentary that you watch and never believed could happen so close to home. The same government that fights to protect the unborn girl child cannot keep her safe when she comes into the world – after the initial hullabaloo, the government seems to feign a practiced ignorance. More ‘important’ things happen and atrocities are swept under the rug. Women – raped. Girls – raped. A child – raped. Women deserve more. They deserve justice and rights, without news channels playing painful footage and angry debates all day long. Without protests, marches, candlelight vigils. Women deserve more, without having to shout from the rooftops about it.
To be treated with respect and dignity, from the day they are born and throughout their lives. This cannot be immediate, but it is definitely not impossible. Accord them the protection they deserve. I raise my voice as a mother. Any female who goes through this nightmare, is someone’s daughter. A mother somewhere, feels the indescribable pain of her heart breaking inside her. Anguish at being able to do nothing to protect her child. Anger that the government seems to be playing too stupid to understand.
Violated at five. Raped, beaten, defiled. Five. FIVE. Good lord, five is a baby. Five is innocent and pure. Five is a little angel who still marvels at rain on a school morning and secretly wants a chocolate before going to bed. Five is cruel, wrong, sick. It is complete and unadulterated evil. I read somewhere that we must condition our children from a young age, with regard to living with equal rights. Sure. I’m more than ready to start at home. To teach our boys that women are not to be ogled at and teach our girls their worth, not to mention martial arts. Teach them that right from the playground, girls are not to be bullied. Yes, I can try and handle the tomorrows.
But is my government ready to take a stand on the violence against women today? Impose a deserving punishment, given the hideous crime? As my government, this is what I expect you to do. You are the law, are you not? Do these cases not deserve precedence over a film star slated to spend a few years in jail? Do not make a joke out of these horrific events. When we cannot save and protect our children, DO NOT waste my time showing me a plea from members of the film fraternity and the public, to lessen or do away with a court verdict.
Do not insult my intelligence and mock my sentiments.
I raise my voice as an Indian. This is not the country I have defended countless times. This cannot possibly be the government I elected, hoping for a better tomorrow. These cannot be the law enforcement representatives whom we trust to make a shining India for our children. This is not the country I call my own. It can’t be.
The constitution speaks of my rights as a citizen. A right to equality, freedom, my right against exploitation. Do the ruling powers constantly need to be reminded of this? … Truth alone triumphs. The truth is staring you in the face. Now what? If the government does not feel the urge to go out and fight for the rights of these women – know that as a government, you have failed.
We as a country have failed. Repeatedly, miserably, shamelessly. Your nuclear power and your armies are worth tosh, if you can’t protect your people from the evil that lies within. Get back to the basics. Honour your people, protect them. To our women… you are worth so much more than you know. More than you believe.
Know it. Trust it, hold on to it, nurture it. Do what makes you happy and don’t constantly choose the back seat as your comfort zone. With self appreciation comes strength. Do not wait for society to applaud you. You are strong enough not to need it. Look around. Reach out to other women and allow yourself to learn and harness your own greatness. Fight for yourself, the girl standing next to you and your unborn daughters.
Dream. Don’t give up. Laugh. Live, really LIVE. Do not settle. You deserve more. And if you don’t go after what is yours, don’t expect someone else to do it for you.
To everyone in the Indian government who can make a difference in this mess we seem to be drowning in, but is perhaps waiting for some sort of divine intervention – here is food for thought. This woman has been to hell and back. Iron rods, candles, hair oil bottles – you’ve heard these words again and again. In a country as big as ours, there is probably much more happening. Our monsters are slowing crawling out from under our beds. The woman will believe she is cursed, unloved and of no consequence to anyone. She will understand that this is the life she and her daughters will be condemned to live, with no one to champion their cause. She will never be able to love and she will never be accepted, thanks to society. She will rot on the inside and she will die. Now imagine that this woman is your blood. Your mother, who gave you life. Your sister, who laughed with you, tied a rakhi around your wrist. Your daughter, whom you held and vowed to take care of forever when you first held her in your arms. Harsh? Perhaps. True? Undoubtedly.
Do not live in denial. To our government… take a stand and act. We expect it of you, it is your duty. Because if you wait for too long, it will happen again, make no mistake. And it will keep getting worse. Let your people know that they are in safe hands. Put actual justice on the table, not compromises. Impose a punishment strong enough to deter these animals out there. Work on a better tomorrow. But for god’s sake, protect your people today. Don’t mess this up. There is simply too much at stake.
Keep blowing the Trumpet! This & many more stories await in the pages!