It has been four years since the Nirbhaya nightmare and the perversion and misogyny of India's men continue unabated. The Bangalore horror is the latest incident that shook our collective conscience. In between there have been countless other outrageous stories of women abused, exploited and dehumanised.
Strike hard at the ego and machismo of the sexual predator to help him understand concepts like limits and decency. If families don't do this, the State [must]...
There are new stories every day that defy all sense of decency and humanity. It is a depressing scenario for any right thinking individual. Obviously something is very wrong with the value system in our country. So how do we fix it?
One may argue that parents must raise their daughters to be strong, independent, and capable of fighting back. The question is would that be enough? Sadly, it is neither entirely feasible nor quite sufficient.
Parents of boys obviously aren't doing a good enough job of raising their sons to respect women. Much like other facets of our social life, boys and their parents couldn't be bothered about consideration for others and the larger good. They are driven by the principle that might is right and they will continue with their sordid ways if there is no compulsion to change.
Such men see women as meek objects with no individual identity. They believe that any woman they encounter is fair game for their depredations, so they proceed to abuse them with the same casualness with which they would toss their trash or urinate on the street. No second thoughts given.
Many of these goons also enjoy political patronage, which adds to their sense of entitlement and immunity. Periodic utterances by chauvinistic leaders, blaming women for stepping out or dressing a certain way, further embolden these predators.
What do we as a society do in this situation? If these brutes only understand fear and power, how do we dissuade them from making life hell for women?
It's time for some hard choices.
The way these attitudes and behaviours can be changed is by using the full power of the Indian State to come down hard on any transgression.
Now imagine Bangalore on the night of the 31st. Imagine a squad of tough, well-equipped law enforcement officers swooping down on the molesters and whisking them away for a few days to an "attitude readjustment camp". Imagine those beasts getting some tender ministrations in the custody of these no nonsense officers. Imagine an example being made of these men with a good measure of public humiliation and punishment. Imagine the power of dissuasion this would have over other perverts contemplating similar acts across the country.
Imagine a squad of tough, well-equipped law enforcement officers swooping down on the molesters and whisking them away for a few days to an "attitude readjustment camp"...
I honestly believe that meting out swift and exemplary punishment is the only way that the tide can be turned quickly in this battle. Strike hard at the ego and machismo of the sexual predator to help him understand concepts like limits and decency. If families don't do this, the State has no option but to step in and ensure balance. The uncivilized brutes that indulge in such actions understand and respect no other language.
But are we as a nation ready to make this hard choice?
The moment any stringent action is taken by the government, there will be uproar. And we all know the quarters from where the loudest noise will emerge.
The will wail and cry. "Oh the government is targeting the poor youth. Oh, minority youth are being persecuted. Oh our liberties are being curtailed. Oh, the government has imposed emergency."
The reality is that all these horrific incidents are happening in this country because we aren't prepared to be tough. We are truly a soft state and there is simply too much freedom and tolerance, including the freedom to molest and harass.
That is why large swathes of the public spaces in the country are no go zones for women, especially after dark. We have fostered a culture of misogyny, keeping half our population subjugated and disadvantaged. In this environment, how can there be any sustained and meaningful progress?
So the big question is, will you support severe corrective action or will you run crying about the human rights of these beasts?
Rich, poor, low caste, upper caste, minister's son or sweeper's son, majority community, minority community, respect for women must be non negotiable and the law must come down harshly and ferociously on any man who violates these values. The moment a man dehumanises a woman, he should stand to lose his fundamental human rights too.
So the big question is, will you support severe corrective action or will you run crying about the human rights of these beasts? If you're not willing to support any hard decisions, then I suggest you hold off on the anger and outrage when the next incident takes place, because guess what, you are part of the problem.