(This article by Anang Pal Malik was first posted on his facebook page under Notes. This was written in the days following the horrible rape in Delhi.- Ed.)
Event 1: Semester over at Pantnagar University, students are at Nagla Railway station, waiting for the train home. Lumpens from the village Nagla start harassing girls. Boys accompanying them object. Lumpens get reinforcements from the village, start bashing up the boys. Train arrives on the platform in the mean time, some boys managed to board, injured and bleeding, others run all the way to the university hospital.
Q. Why the people in the village sided with the lumpens and not with the boys defending the girls?
Event 2: A group of DU students is on a train back to Delhi from an educational tour. As the train crosses Mathura, daily commuters start boarding it. Soon some commuters spot the girls in the group and start harassing them. Boys resist. Commuters get reinforcements from adjacent coaches. Boys lock the doors of the coach. Chain is pulled, train brought to a halt. Coach is surrounded on all sides by the angry commuters. Preparations are afoot to burn the coach. RPF arrives, fires in the air and prevents a Godhra.
Q. Why the other commuters sided with the molesters instead of with the girls?
Event 3: A group of students from JNU is on a train to Delhi. As the train approaches Bhagalpur, a group of local students spots the girls in the JNU group and starts harassing them. Boys object, resist and manage to repulse. The local boys phone the folks in the Bhagalpur. As the train pulls into Bhagalpur station, a mob is waiting for it. The JNU students are beaten within inches of their lives. Police arrives and saves them from getting lynched.
Q. Why the elders in Bhagalpur sided with the molesters and not with girls being harassed and boys trying to save them?
Event 4: Dombivali near Mumbai. A girl is back on her way home from work. As she approaches her housing society, lumpens from the nearby areas start harassing her. A boy from the society, also on way home, objects. He is attacked with knives. He rushes inside the society, pursuers in chase. About 35 people from society gather. Only one steps up to intervene and is promptly knifed. Boy is brutally killed. Next day those 35 people refuse to have seen anything. Now a whisper campaign is on by those 35 against the girl in the society. That she invited the whole trouble upon her because of her conduct. That boy was having an affair with her and so died defending her, we had no business to put ourselves in risk to defend such an immoral pair who have a ‘love affair’.
Q. Why those 35 people not only not defended the boy, but are blaming the girl for the whole incident, and not cooperating with law?
Molestation of women 24×7 in all public spaces in India is the best kept secret of Indian society. People never talk about, as if it will cease to exist, if not discussed. Brothers cannot walk to market with their sisters. Mothers make sure that brother never accompanies the sister anywhere, as she will be molested and he would resist and may get killed. Parents make sure that brother and sister do not study in the same college. People make sure that they do not travel on trains taken by commuters. Girls normally do not go to public events in most smaller towns. At Juhu protest yesterday, a protest held to protest molestation, a 30 year old woman was molested.
If we read our ancient literature and epics, women were free to be free. They got education. They roamed alone, chose their husbands and had a life beyond marriage. The bore arms, they fought wars, they ruled.
Invaders from the desert came and with them brought the misogyny of the desert. The women were second class citizens, not equal in law, merely a chattel of the males in the family. Women of the rival tribes were fair game, and were specially chosen as the targets to humiliate the tribe. So keeping them inside home, and keeping them covered, and marrying them off early, never letting them venture outside the home without a male relative became the norm. They had no life of their own. They could be given in marriage only by their fathers, and brothers if father was not alive. She had no future without marriage, as she needed a male to accompany her everywhere.
And if a woman was not so covered, was without a male relative, she was not only inviting trouble, she deserved it. And if she was with an unrelated male, she was certainly of questionable conduct.
This led to total sex-segregation in society: at playground, in classrooms, at work place, at social events.
Rats in a cage deprived of food are known to attack each other. Even a solitary rat in a cage deprived of food is known to start chewing its own limbs.
Males in a society deprived of normal interaction with opposite sex at each stage of life, soon start behaving like those rats deprived of food, looking at women as objects to be chewed. Deprived of interaction with girls as playmates, classmates, co-workers, they come to view them as something to be interacted with only as sex-objects.
This is the society we had when we got independence.
Trouble started to grow. With marriages compulsory, and Socialist system ensuring that boys capable of supporting a wife and a family in short supply, arranging marriages in the same social status became difficult. Marriages in which adequate dowry was not given started resulting into girl getting murdered. A huge campaign was launched against bride killings, laws were strengthened, movies, radio, TV all were commandeered to pitch in. bride killings stopped but boys’ parents started to make sure that they negotiated and obtained dowry beforehand (to save the heartburn later, as bride could no longer be burned).
Parents of girls discovered that having a daughter to marry off meant owing an unfathomable sum of money to some bum who was lucky to have a son.
What to do? They figured that having a girl child was at the root of all their troubles. Technology also helped at the right time. So girls started to be got rid of even before they were born. Society had addressed bride burning, the symptom, it never addressed the dowry, the cause. It never addressed the problem that girls were not supposed to have any life beyond marriage, the problem of misogyny. And as any doctor can tell you, treating symptom brings you only very temporary relief and disease breaks out in an even more virulent form.
The girls who somehow escaped getting killed in the womb were brought up as only a source of troubles for the family. The “court decree” as women even from very prosperous family call their daughters- court decree against the family which would be encashed by the grooms’ family.
So an average boy in India grows (average please, I hope nobody will get personal reading this, not for or against) hearing his sisters cursed for being there, mother insulted for foisting the ‘court decree’ on the family. And as he steps out of home finds a milieu in which a girl with an unrelated male is considered with a questionable character, girls not covered properly thought as inviting trouble upon themselves, girls of the rival tribe ( tribalism is a state of mind, you don’t have to be in a jungle to be a tribal. So different caste, different religion, different, language, different region, different economic strata all are tribal divisions) and girls from a different group are girls from a rival tribe- a fair game.
Police, judges, teachers, leaders all come from this stew and carry all these pathologies in their head. Women judges are known to treat rape victims very badly. Cops treat girl victims as the one who started the trouble for being errrr…outside of her home, not properly dressed, hanging out with boys.
Coming back to the events I listed at the beginning, people were siding with the molesters because they were boys from their own ‘tribe’ doing the noble task of attacking and humiliating the women from the rival tribe.
And those 35 men from Dombivali society are doing the character assassination of the girl to justify their own cowardly action of not only not defending the boy as he was being murdered, but not even supporting him with police.
In fact this is the most frequently used cop out of the society in justifying the inaction when a girl is being molested, ”why should we risk ourselves for ‘such a girl’?”
So what is the solution?
A social movement needs to be launched to cure ourselves of the misogyny of the desert of Araby.
Socialism needs to be dismantled so that economy grows and people become busy earning their livelihoods instead of living on freebies, girls find more and more jobs and thus get a life without marriage.
Society must in each and every case needs to be taught not to blame the girl, whatever be her past behaviour (in any case in all cases, her behavior does not start the trouble, it is the wolves out on prowl who are to blame). If a bank is robbed we don’t blame the bank staff for the robbery, we always blame the robbers. Then why blame woman in case of a sexual assault?
A sustained campaign by the society needs to be launched against dowry, far stronger than that launched against dowry deaths or female infanticide because dowry is what is causing the latter two.
We need to stop looking to government to cure us of our social pathologies. These are the problems of society, only society can cure them. And in any case government is born out of society, not the other way round. If we look to government to cure this disease, we neither know the problem, nor the solution, nor what a government actually is.
Comong back to the title of this piece. Chinese call those men who can’t find a woman to marry Bare Branches. (like bare, unfruitful branches of a tree.) Our current sex ratio means that about 10% the males will never a find a girl to marry ( girls having been killed in womb.)(The figure climbs to 20% in areas around Delhi.)
10 % of our males are going to be bare branches.
What the society thinks? 10 % of the males unmarried, without a family, without a mate would let rest of the society live in peace? Or live at all?