Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Does Only A "Nirbhaya" Deserve Justice?

Nirbhaya's case has been fast tracked... the "juvenile" among the culprits has been let away with a mild sentence. The fury raged again, but died down soon. I guess, we all knew this was to happen. 

The fury has also died down over the Mumbai gang rape. All the men have been held, and judicious process begins. 

Meanwhile, yesterday's newspaper reports death of a rape victim, who tried committing suicide after the attack and finally succumbed. No, she wasn't a fighter! She lived in a small town in UP, she gave up all hope and was undoubtedly burdened by "guilt"--nothing remarkable about her--she's definitely no "Nirbhaya"! 

And so her story doesn't deserve more than three sentences tucked somewhere deep inside the newspaper, nor is anybody going to shout for justice for her. The online news has some details. It even makes a mention that "This is the third ghastly incident of crime against women in the past 72 hours."

You can easily note the difference in the tone of reporting: The Nirbhaya and Mumbai gang rape reports shouted their lungs out, blaming whomever they could blame, trying to creating that "impact" which they could proudly claim later. This, on the other hand, is as simple a news report as it can get--stating bare facts obtained on the regular crime beat. 

And you thought India has really woken up to rapes and such crimes against its women?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mumbai Gang Rape and Our Selective Awakening

Last Friday, we in India woke up to another horror.

A young female photojournalist, who was out on an assignment to take pictures of one of the once-lively-but-now-dead-and-deserted textile mill complexes in Mumbai, was raped by a group of five men; her male colleague was bound and left helpless just a few feet away! It was a ghastly crime, one that reminded us all of an equally brutal crime that had happened in New Delhi not many months ago.

Just like "last time," Indian media has a "story" again! A gang rape--that too of a young woman from the journalism fraternity! It's definitely time to shout their lungs out, spill anger through their pens, and demand "strict punishment (read "death penalty)."

Just like, "last time" Women young and not-so-young are outraged. They are scared once again ("tomorrow, it can be me!"), but they don't like this feeling of being scared... and they are furious. They are out on the streets in protest--some with their mouths covered with black bands, others shouting slogans--demanding safety for women and justice for the victim (or should we call her the survivor?).

Yes, we in Mumbai are all shaken by this horrific incident, and it seems that everyone is woken up to the crimes committed against women.

But is it really so? What we choose to not see is that between the Delhi gang rape and the Mumbai gang rape, there have been many more rapes and there have been many even before "last time." Pick up any of our daily newspapers any day, and somewhere on the inner pages, tucked inside those tiny "crime" columns, you can find news of rape--coming from small towns and villages and slums of big cities. But no one comes out in solidarity of these victims (survivors?), no one seeks justice, no one feels the anger, no one wants the perpetrators to be hanged. We don't see such agitation in media or the public.

In a shocking development lately, the main accused of the Mumbai gang rape case has confessed of having raped four other women at the same place... only those were the poorest of the poor--rag-pickers--of whom no one takes any notice.

These are the most vulnerable group of women... no one bothers about them, and definitely not the police! They don't have the courage to walk up to a police station and file a complaint because chances are high that they will be abused even by the police.

The truth, though hard to face, is that even the citizen of Mumbai, who are all out in solidarity with the young photo-journalist--shouting slogans, asking the accused to be hanged, venting their anger--won't bat an eyelid for these other victims.

It is this selective awakening that makes me hang my head in shame. It is this bitter truth that stops me from joining the uproar, going out shouting slogans, lighting candles. It leaves me wondering... will we, as a nation, ever really care about our women--without first looking at their social and financial backgrounds?  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Vote for Regina Zoneziwoh

Cameroonian activist Regina Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo defines herself as “a writer, social networker, digital storyteller, gender professional, and citizen journalist.”
Her work covers issues on young people’s sexuality and sexual rights, personal development, and violence in their communities. She has also produced documentaries on women in post-conflict Cameroon, and of tea-workers leading the flight for social justice.
Zoneziwoh is the founder of Women for A Change (WFAC) Buea,  Safe World Field Partner in Cameroon.
Help Zoneziwoh win $1000 to support a project to tell the stories of grassroots women leaders involved in community mobilization, HIV/AIDs, peace building, social justice, and human rights advocacy in Cameroon.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

World Water Day 2012

I just realized what day it is today! It's World Water Day! A day dedicated to one of the most precious things in the world--water!

It's a day to remind us that we are lucky to have that running all the day--there are millions around the world who live their lives by the bucket... literally. They walk miles to fetch that pail of water. Many others stand in long queues every morning and fight for that bucket of water before the tap runs dry for the day. And what do they get after all this toil?

"The pond water I was forced to get water from was very dirty and had a bad smell. Due to my distant walks to collect water, sometimes I was late to work. My daughters and I would also suffer from diarrhea, jaundice, dysentery and skin diseases because of the dirty pond water. We are able to get safe water much more quickly and we don't have waterborne diseases anymore!" So says Banu, a Bangladeshi mother of two daughters. (Read more of this story here.)

So do count it as a blessing that you have enough clean water to keep that tap running while brushing your teeth or to take a nice long shower. You are definitely the lucky one!