Thursday, April 25, 2013

Don't let this be my India.

A five year old girl was raped in my country.  

Each word is drenched in so much pain, shame, anger and misery. I usually steer clear of politics and the like on my personal space – it’s never been my thing. But now..I am raising my voice.
Because I feel I must and because I know I can. And because if we don’t do it now, each and every time this happens… things may never change.

I raise my voice as a woman. In my country, the government campaigns to save the girl child. It is against the law to find out the gender of an unborn child. Bravo.
But in my country, women are raped every day. The parents of a raped five year old girl, were offered money to keep quiet about the horror their child had been put through. By the police.  It plays like a dreadful horror story, some documentary that you watch and never believe could happen so close to home.
The same government that fights to protect the unborn girl child, cannot keep her safe when she comes into the world – after the initial hullabaloo, the government seems to feign a practiced ignorance. More ‘important’ things happen and the atrocities are swept under the rug.

Women are raped. Girls are raped. A child – raped. Women deserve more. They deserve justice and rights, without news channels playing painful footage and angry debates all day long. Without protests, marches, candlelit vigils. Women deserve more, without having to shout from the rooftops about it.  To be treated with respect from the beginning, to the end. This cannot be immediate, but it is definitely not impossible. Accord them the protection they deserve.

I raise my voice as a mother. Any female who goes through this nightmare , is someone’s daughter. A mother somewhere, feels the indescribable pain of her heart breaking inside her. Anguish at being able to do nothing to protect her child. Anger that the government, seems to be playing too stupid to understand.

Violated at five. Raped, beaten, defiled.

Five. FIVE. Good Lord, five is a baby. Five is innocent and pure. Five is a little angel who still marvels at rain on a school morning and secretly wants a chocolate before going to bed. Five is cruel, wrong, sick. It is complete and unadulterated evil.  

I have read that we must condition our children from a young age, regarding living with equal rights and equal respect. Sure. I am more than ready to start at home. To teach our boys that women are not to be ogled at and teach our girls their worth, not to mention quite possibly jujitsu.  That right from the playground, girls are not to be bullied. I can try and handle the tomorrows.
But is my government ready to take a stand on the crimes against women today? Impose a deserving punishment, given the hideous crime? As my government, this is what I expect you to do. You are the law, are you not? Do these cases not deserve precedence over a film star slated to spend a few years in jail? Do not make a joke out of these horrific events. When we cannot save and protect our children, DO NOT waste my time showing me a plea from members of the film fraternity and the public to lessen or do away with a court verdict. Do not insult my intelligence and mock my sentiments.  

I raise my voice as an Indian. This is not the country I have defended countless times.  This cannot possibly be the government I elected, hoping for a better tomorrow. These cannot be the law enforcement representatives whom we trust to make a shining India for our children. This is not the country I call my own. It can’t be.

The constitution speaks of my rights as a citizen. A right to equality, freedom, my right against exploitation.  Do  you constantly need to be reminded of this? सत्यमेव जयते. Truth alone triumphs.  The truth is staring you in the face.  Now what?

If the government does not feel the urge to go out and fight for the rights of these women – know that as a government, you have failed. We as a country, have failed. Repeatedly, miserably, shamelessly.  Your nuclear power and your armies are worth tosh, if you can’t protect your people from the evil that lies within. Get back to the basics. Honor your people, protect them.  

To everyone in the Indian government who can make a difference in this mess we seem to be drowning in, but is perhaps waiting for some sort of divine intervention  – here is food for thought. This woman has been to hell and back. Iron rods, candles, hair oil bottles – you’ve heard these words again and again. In a country as big as ours, there is probably much more happening. Our monsters are slowing crawling out from under our beds. The woman will believe she is cursed, unloved and of no consequence to anyone. She will understand that this is the life she and her daughters will be condemned to live, with no one to champion their cause. She will never be able to love and she will never be accepted, thanks to society. She will rot on the inside and she will die.

Now imagine that this woman is your blood. Your mother, who gave you life. Your sister, who laughed and played with you, tied a rakhi around your wrist. Your daughter, whom you held and vowed to take care of forever when you first held her in your arms.

Harsh? Perhaps. True? Undoubtedly. Do not live in denial.

Take a stand and act. We expect it of you, it is your duty. Because if you wait for too long, it will happen again, make no mistake. And it will keep getting worse.

Let your people know that they are in safe hands. Put actual justice on the table, not compromises. Impose a punishment strong enough to deter these animals out there. Work on a better tomorrow. But for God’s sake, protect your people today.

Don’t mess this up.  There is simply too much at stake. 

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