Wednesday, March 21, 2012


The two convicts in the Pune BPO employee rape-cum-murder case, Purshottam Borate and Pradip Komokate, have been sentenced to death, reported the today.

News of sexual violence against women sends me into an overdrive.I am approaching fifty but am as angry, as touchy about this business of the second sex as I was, thirty years ago. The reason is not far to see. I had liberal parents and was raised to like myself. My ultimate moment of empowerment came from my mother. She sat me down one day, as I was leaving for my married home and told me gravely, "Adjust and respect all but do not, do not ever, take nonsense from anyone. You deserve to be happy." 

Most Indian mothers are too deeply conditioned by centuries old mores to dole out this particular brand of advice to their daughters, as they embark on their adult pathways. Fortunately for me, I knew of another. This brave lady had packed her newly married daughter off to the US with a return ticket in an envelope. Her parting words were, "Should he so much as lay an abusive finger on you, board the first flight home."

Would you call this the ugly new face of feminism? Something Indian society is not ready for, just as it is coy over the extreme western attire on common display in our public spaces today. There are voices resonating that the Indian home is being torn asunder by feminist values. That women are rushing ahead too fast for our culture to stomach their rapid advance. There is a notion that perhaps the modern woman is inviting personal violence with her progressive attitude and western clothes.

Well, the unpalatable might as well be said that the current wisdom lays the onus for her own safety, squarely with the woman. The media keeps male hormones in a perpetual state of simmer, it is believed; the women walk around in minimal clothes, strutting their stuff so to say; they challenge the male ego with their brazenly independent attitude, what is the poor man to do? He can but wreak vengeance by raping and invading the teases who anyway, are only asking for what they deserve!

The tragedy with rape is manifold. Not many can see beyond the victim blaming and "men will be men" slant to the devastating and lifelong effect it has on the body, soul and spirit of the victim. Not for nothing has life after rape been called a "living death".

What kind of a cruel and ruthless society are we, to heap more guilt on the victim of a phenomenon known to breed self-blame as the one consistent long term symptom.

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