A let­ter to the ladies of UPA

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - SECOND - KNOWN TURF

Dear ladies of the rul­ing coali­tion, What was that about? The water- can­nons and un­nec­es­sary beat­ing up of ci­ti­zens in Delhi. You were all act­ing like fright­ened rab­bits cow­er­ing in a hutch. Maybe you too were think­ing — what is this about?

Clearly, this gang- rape had no politi­cian in­volved, nor cops. And once the rapists’ bru­tal­ity had jolted them into ac­tion, the po­lice did ar­rest the ac­cused. You can say the po­lice did its job. Then why the howls of protest? Here, let me of­fer some an­swers.

are feel­ing help­less. Each time that hap­pens — in any con­text — they will turn to the state for so­lu­tions. Your vot­ers de­mand that rape be pre­vented. I know you’re think­ing: “How?” How, when you know that the rapists are also ci­ti­zens, per­haps from the same de­mo­graphic throng­ing Raisina Hill? It is not like the pro­tes­tors know the an­swer. It’s your job to of­fer an­swers, fast. If you’re not up for the job, quit.

is not about one gan­grape. It is a life­time of out­rage. It is the fear and rage one feels af­ter be­ing as­saulted, or when one sees a loved one suf­fer, and the crim­i­nal is free. Per­haps one can­not find the crim­i­nal, or even recog­nise him. Per­haps the po­lice didn’t take the in­ves­ti­ga­tion se­ri­ously. Mainly, we are an­gry be­cause we know some­thing like this might hap­pen again. This is the rage of as­saults past, present and fu­ture.

are daily re­ports of gan­grape from ev­ery state. To­day I read about three cases in one pa­per. One report was about a girl who drank poi­son be­cause she was be­ing stalked and ha­rassed by her rapists. The po­lice had re­leased them. When we read of such cases, we lose faith in the po­lice and the ju­di­ciary. You can pre­vent in­jus­tice be­ing heaped upon in­jus­tice by en­sur­ing that the rape- ac­cused do not get bail so eas­ily.

po­lice force — both, male and fe­male cops — is no­to­ri­ously in­sen­si­tive. The force ur­gently needs a train­ing mod­ule on how to deal with sex­ual crimes, start­ing from beat con­sta­bles and go­ing up to In­spec­tor Gen­er­als.

ur­gently need a wit­ness pro­tec­tion and rape sur­vivor pro­tec­tion pro­grammes. Make it hap­pen.

to women — in­clud­ing girl stu­dents — about their fears and de­sires. It has been a long time since you lived like or­di­nary ci­ti­zens and so, you come off as in­dif­fer­ent or clue­less. If you had a clue, you’d know that time of night, lo­ca­tion, dress or pro­fes­sion has noth­ing to do with sex­ual as­sault. Ex­cept, per­haps, in iden­ti­fy­ing the poor­est women to po­ten­tial rapists. Leave your laal- batti gaadi at home. See for your­self how we ex­pe­ri­ence pub­lic spa­ces.

need to stop look­ing for ways to blame a vic­tim. You need to stop re­strict­ing women as a way of con­trol­ling crime. If any­one terms the as­sault a ‘ po­lit­i­cal con­spir­acy’, you need to smack them down ( non- vi­o­lently). You need to tell your col­leagues to shut up, pub­licly.

are an­gry about ev­ery­thing else. Cor­rup­tion and filth and traf­fic jams ( even if they them­selves are re­spon- sible). But fix street lights. And take away all power from the cor­rupt. Rapists of­ten go un­pun­ished be­cause they bribe the po­lice.

part of so­cial ed­u­ca­tion in schools and col­leges, let young boys be taught about cor­rect, re­spect­ful, hu­mane ways of ap­proach­ing girls. Teach them to dance. Teach them to ex­press their feel­ings.

all kinds of rapists. Pun­ish army­men. Pun­ish cops. Pun­ish the rapists of 1984. Pun­ish the rapists of 1992. And 2002.

Show us that you’re in charge. Talk to ur­ban plan­ners. Talk to psy­chol­o­gists. Talk to women’s groups. Fix this.

in­box@ dnain­dia. net



An­nie Zaidi writes po­etry, sto­ries, es­says, scripts ( and in a dark, dis­tant past, recipes she never ac­tu­ally tried)

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