Saturday, 18 April 2009

Abominable Face of Indian Youth

Late teens to early twenties were the best years of my life. Those were the years which left me richer with the most cherished of all my friendships. Having selected fields which were male dominated, most of my close friends happened to be men. However, those friendships were formed on the basis of mutual respect, admiration and understanding. We had, and to-date have disagreements; but never do we question the other person’s intelligence. There have been instances of attraction within the group; but no advances have ever been made to compromise an individual’s integrity.

In fact my male friends were always protective of the women around them, whether close friends or not. I remember one particular instance quite vividly. There was an event in the college where a senior tried to act funny with me while on stage. Post the performance I was visibly upset which was noticed by a friend. On knowing what had transpired, he approached the perpetrator and confronted him. He ensured that the wrong doer got the message that he had been caught and was being watched from then on. Yes, I should have had the courage to do the same myself; but probably I was weak then. Nonetheless, my friends filled the gap and became my strength. Around them I was safe; and after all these years, to a large extent, because of them, I am a strong individual who can take care of herself and fight her own battles.

Today when I read about the 23-year old American woman who was raped by six Indian boys in Mumbai; something in my heart gave way. I was aggrieved and agitated. These boys hail from the same institutions where I made my friends. The girl studies in the same college (Tata Insititue of Social Sciences – TISS) where a close friend did her masters. The lounge bar that they went to is in the vicinity where I went to college for four years. So these youngsters hang out in the same places as I and my friends did; just that we are a decade and plus apart. Has that decade made so much of a difference that we have forgotten respect for people! Is that the youth of today – a brigade that thinks of excesses and violations as a hobby, a birthright!

While I might have highlighted my emotions, let me begin my analysis.
By the girl’s own statement (published in media), I think she was not comfortable with the guys and could have averted trouble to start with. When almost total strangers forced her to drink despite her wanting, why did she give in? That she was drunk does not make the crime of the boys less offensive, but the fact that she accompanied acquaintances to an alien place definitely makes her more vulnerable. Post the beginning of the harassment, the girl went to the bathroom and called a friend. Then why not wait till he called back rather than get out in to the lions’ den? Letting herself out of the toilet, made her position even more fragile. Yet, it is possible that in a state of intoxication, her reflexes were subdued.

What is beyond comprehension is the
admission of the boys (printed in the news dailies) that they planned this entire episode! Desperation, hunger, lust, experimentation; no adjective that comes to mind can ever justify this act. Violating a female mind and body to satisfy their momentary desires is a vile action and should be punished rigorously. Taking the facts as they were – the boys intoxicated the girl, duped her into going with them to a lonely apartment and then set the scene for group non-consensual sex; all these clearly point towards a well orchestrated act. They were sane and had a motive. On top of that (as reported by the media) they had the cheek to say that they “never expected the girl to cry rape” and hence never fled the city! Were they expecting her to thank them for the best night of her life! Or thank them for the morning pill they gave her to protect themselves! Abominable!

This is not the first time that such a ghastly act has been committed and reported. If found guilty (post a fair trial rather than media or individual opinionated views, mine included) the accused should be punished to set an example such that this becomes the last time that someone dares such an act. Violation of the female mind, body and soul cannot just be reprimanded anymore. It needs to be catered to more sensitively, seriously and severely. And this only means that the law and its guardians need to become more through and strict. I sincerely hope that Indian law makers acknowledge this need of the hour.

PS: I do hope that the media has published the girl’s statement with her consent. I am not sure if I condone the printing of the statement. However, if the girl has conceded to it then I guess my first apprehension of victim’s confidentiality and peace of mind being harmed will rest assured to the contrary.