Like all of India, I woke up today to the news from Telangana of the death of 4 men who gangraped and murdered a 26-year-old veterinarian only 10 days ago. My first response was “Good! The bastards deserved it!” After living a life of perpetual fear of being raped and murdered or of that happening to a dear one, I think every woman tends to wish for this news after every horrific rape and murder that happens in our country, almost on a daily basis. This perpetual fear started settling in after the Delhi gangrape case of 2012, the first one that shook the entire country to the core on such a level and put India permanently on the map as a country unsafe for women. It is so completely settled in now that there is no going back. I am scared. Period. Every strong, independent woman you see around you is, whether they accept it or not. It varies from mild uneasiness to a strong fear; but there is no denying that it is most definitely there inside every woman. The simplest reasons being:
a) we can get out of the house (or even stay inside for that matter, when you look at the news pieces of sexual attacks within the four walls of the house) without a single piece of valuable or money with us and we are still at risk because we are ourselves a “widely-sought-out” valuable due to our gender
b) being killed is bad in itself, but being violated to the most unimaginable limits, tortured and then being killed (or even left to die or survive) is definitely worse
I sat up and read through countless posts, from celebrities and common man alike, celebrating the poetic justice in it all. The encounter, fake or otherwise, for us has been the good news we have been waiting for. And that is when a feeling of deep distress tugged at my heart. Oh no! Definitely nothing to do with the human rights of rapists, murderers and terrorists, the way Arundhati Roy and her likes fought for Kasab after the Mumbai terror attacks. I have always believed in the human rights of victims and their families to be of utmost importance. If they didn’t get it, the culprits definitely do not deserve it. My distress had to do with the pathetic condition that my country is in that we are left with no choice but to celebrate anarchy. No offense to the police officers who killed off those guys, not at all. But every day I see a new #JusticeFor… hashtag, I see the very same demand – just kill them off. And I am not proud to say that I feel the same way too. In the bleakest of moments I have tried to picture what I would do if I was put in a similar position and every time my trail of thought has been about how I should do something about it myself, even if it gets me killed or arrested in the process, because ultimately, our law enforcement agencies and judiciary does squat to ensure true justice to a rape victim and family.
I kept shaking my head not wanting to believe that this is what it has come to. A country where we are not scared that today’s events are not a conclusion to something, but a double-edged sword. We have to agree that it is not all black and white. It has a grey area that has to be addressed. I am more than happy that my sister, Priyanka Reddy will rest in peace and this will hopefully be a warning to anyone who thinks that he can rape and murder a woman and get out of it in the easiest way, as everyone else has. But I am also aware of the implications this has for the future. That this could become an unsaid norm, that this could give people the feeling it is okay to resort to the same means if they feel someone is guilty, that this could in some other case end up taking the life of a person framed for a crime he hasn’t committed, that this could ease the way for the bad apples in the police force to eliminate the enemies of the rich and the powerful – in short, that this could lead to anarchy, something that will take us far from the civilized society that we believe we are. And what an atrocious state is it for a country to be in when its citizens know there is no use in resorting to the very powers that should ideally serve them justice and instead think it is okay to just kill off the accused without even a trial!
So who is to blame for this? Don’t say that it is the mindset of the people in our patriarchal society – that is a true, but cliched and irrelevant answer to my question. Who is really to be blamed for leading our country to a point where our people will happily choose anarchy that could very well kill them too tomorrow over the judicial system? All the law enforcers and lawyers who are talking about our “strong judicial system” and “how the law should always take its course” should introspect their role in leaving the citizens exasperated and distrustful of the system you have turned into a joke. Not that all of you are bad, but as members of that system you have an equal role as every other one.
Starting with slut-shaming the victim, the ones who are supposed to uphold justice will do anything in their power to break the victim even more and if possible, push her into ending whatever life is left in her. We have seen enough of namesake trials where in the name of collecting and analysing evidence, decades go by and sometimes the victim, the accused and two generations after them have passed on before a verdict is pronounced. We have seen times when convicted rapists got out on bail and attacked the victim yet again, like the most recent incident from Unnao where the girl still fights for her life after being set ablaze by her rapists. We have seen times when rapists were sentenced to prison and then got out after some years only to rape and murder the next woman they came across. We have seen times when rapists were gifted sewing machines and money to start their life afresh, apparently after the “trauma” they went through in playing with the intestines of a young girl they raped in the most brutal ways possible. We have seen times when rapists who got a death sentence were represented by the best and in my opinion, the cruellest lawyers who got the death sentence reduced to a meagre 7 years, so that we could feed them biriyani in prison with our tax money and make sure they are healthy and happy.
I sincerely hope the dark days of anarchy that loom on us do not come down in full force and engulf the very fabric of civilization. And for that, like you and I know, there is only one solution – total overhaul of the entire judicial system and its working. One that will give the tiniest ray of hope to people that justice won’t take a lifetime to be served, at least in cases like these. But will that ever happen? I don’t know.