In keeping with the tradition of retrospective analysis, yesterday’s rape case too was discussed on two favourite themes – what was the lady’s score on “rapeability” – and irrelevantly, who is better (or worse) – Modi or Kejriwal (this discussion takes place irrespective of the core topic in question). In this case, the answer to the first question was easy for many ‘analysing’ the news – the lady was culpable. Returning late in the night – check. Dozed off in the taxi (ergo, she must be have been drunk, some surmised) – check. There was collective tongue clucking – women of this country will never learn.
But, there was a ‘new’ theme. Some actually saw a silver-lining in the crime, and pointed out that the lady was lucky: this was “just” a “normal rape”. Unlike Nirbhaya, this lady did not have to deal with the iron rod, or the driver calling more of his friends. The lady is lucky to be alive. So, we have finally reached this stage of desensitization. But what would you expect? In the recent ‘Mango tree’ case involving the three hapless children, the country’s top investigating agency declared it a suicide. Yes, you fools with your placards and candles. The girls woke up in the middle of the night, marched to the mango tree, climbed it, selected their respective branches, tied one end of their dupattas to their neck, the other end to the branch, and hung themselves. The spokesman for this agency also fulfilled the mandatory rule when dealing with cases of a girl’s death under mysterious circumstances – question her character. The case has now been turned against these dead children’s families – firstly, for filing a “false” case and then perhaps, they’ll be prosecuted for ‘honour killing’. So, don’t you see this urban lady raped by the taxi driver is lucky? Hell, he even dropped her back. Lucky, lucky, lucky.
So, we are done with the “lucky” victim analysis. I thought at least now someone is going to focus on the perpetrator. But no. The second entity responsible for this rape is Uber (the first being the victim). Don’t miss the undertone in many esteemed comments on the news report – Uber is an American company (very, very WESTERN) getting funding to expand in India...hmm...CIA conspiracy perhaps? To do what? No one knows. But better to be suspicious, no?) Forget your stoopid GPS aps, the newspapers say with much anger. Did you do background checks on the driver? The news folks are stern, I tell you. Even so, excuse me while I double up and laugh at this question. What background check are you talking about? How do you do this check? You must be checking up on the non-existent centralised criminal database, yes? That comprehensive query output on sexual offenders of India? What are you matching it against? Fingerprints? DNA? Oh must be PAN Number...or perhaps Aadhar card? No? Ration card? Passport? Okay, sorry about the sarcasm. I guess by background check you meant hiring a third party to conduct the basic address-proof, criminal record verification. I have to laugh again. Sorry about that.
In any case, in a macabre twist, the Nirbhaya case seems to have inspired the rapists to a larger extent rather than shake the concrete-like apathy of policy-makers. You’d think a crime so horrific would set a furious pace to initiate changes. I mean this crime exposed the dregs of psychopathy crawling on our very streets. So when the previous government set up the Nirbhaya fund, I actually thought they will use it to modernise the police force. Set up a separate special victims unit. For a country dishing out IT services to the world, I thought the government will call for tenders to develop a centralised offender’s database. Bring in more forensic psychiatrists, analysts, detectives. Adopt investigative and crime prevention techniques employed by many countries all over the world. Upgrade training to our police force. (Are you calling me an idiot? I bow my head; I asked for it.) This is what happened ...
The Nirbhaya fund was allotted 1000 crores. There were three important proposals placed forward for the use of this fund (http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=101789)
- Enable mobile phones with SOS buttons. It’s not elaborated who will get these SOS messages, how quickly they’ll be able to track the location – especially in cases where the assault takes place in a moving vehicle. But yes, the key point here is – you, yes, you woman-about-to-be-raped – it is your responsibility to fish out your mobile phone and press that SOS button before the rapist beats the crap out of you.
- GPS tracker in every public transport, and CCTV. You can also lodge complaints through IVR, email, SMS. This is going to be implemented in 32 towns initially. So good luck listening to ‘Press 1 for Hindi; Press 2 for English’ as someone unzips.
- That SOS thingie is going to be available in trains too.
Let’s be honest – rape can never be eliminated from society completely – it is the truth all over the world. But the difference lies in how swiftly and sensitively the crime is handled, protection and dignity to the victim, early prosecution. I mean – did you know that in an identification parade, a victim of rape has to identify the rapist by actually touching his elbow?
We have to completely overhaul the system and it has to be done through a comprehensive public-government participation. For a start, we can send our ideas/proposals directly to the PMO. If not anything, I want to tell the government to stop wasting funds. I mean, this was one of the projects cleared in 2013 - "'Design and Development of an affordable Electronic Personal Safety Device' is being implemented by IIT, Delhi for development of personal security device in the form of a wrist watch.” Unless one can taser the bastards using the wristwatch, it’s money down the potty.
Like I said, there is a provision to interact directly with the PMO. I will be doing it – and I’ll keep you posted. Will it count...I don’t know. If not anything, I will feel a little...just a teensy little better about myself: less of a loser – another useless armchair activist with a broadband connection.
© Sumana Khan – 2014
Title © - Peter Sarstedt - 1969