Mon | Apr 23, 2018

'Enough is enough'

Published:Sunday | August 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Students shout slogans and protest against the alleged rape of five mentally ill girls staying at a home run by a non-governmental organisation in Jammu, India, last year. - AP

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

"Enough is enough," declared the attractive, petite Indian woman. "It's time that the government does all it can to send a message to the culprits," she added in reference to the violent rapes in that country.

She was one of a group of women I was speaking to on a recent visit to the country about the three recent cases of alleged rapes, two of which involved murders described in graphic, disturbing details on television.

These days, these young woman are not shy about being numbered among leading agitators - ordinary women - mothers mostly - to parade their images on the television screen as symbols of the fight against rampaging rapists.

The assault on two sisters, dubbed the 'Baduan Rape Murder case', who were allegedly gang-raped and murdered, is highlighted repeatedly in graphic detail.

There is a public spat over a second exhumation of the bodies of the two teenage victims after their graves were unearthed by rains.

With police under pressure from a demanding public, the rape of a six-year-old girl at a school in Bangalore, allegedly by a skating instructor, has added more fuel to the fire, with parents protesting.

Another case called the 'Lucknow rape and murder probe' involving a 32-year-old mother of two whose pelvic area was reportedly 'mutilated' elicited more questions than answers.

A woman's public vow that her peers will not cease their agitation until perpetrators of violence against women is a thing of the past, signalled that the essence of female residents of India is rapidly changing.

Some visiting journalists are of the view that this critical component of the equation is largely being overlooked.

Instead of focusing on the heinous nature of the crimes through graphic depictions, some believe that the changing attitude and India's stance against such acts should be the highlight. There are indications that the subservient aura by which women in India have been characterised is disappearing, forcing Indian men to realise what the Jamaican man has known all along - furious women should not be trifled with.

SUBJECTED TO GREAT CHANGES

The records show that the status of women in India has been subjected to many great changes over the past few millennia. From equal status with men to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been very eventful.

In modern day India, women have held high offices, including that of the president and prime minister.

As of 2011, the speaker of the Lok Sabha and the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the parliament) were women.

However, women in India continue to face atrocities such as rape, acid throwing, dowry killings, and the forced prostitution of young girls.

According to a global poll conducted by Thomson Reuters, India is the 'fourth most dangerous country' in the world for women and the worst country for women among the G20 countries.

But these days, Indian women are emerging more assertive and aggressive, possessing the capacity to daunt even the bravest or most foolhardy of men.

The women who have been mute for decades, perhaps centuries, have, by all indications, found strident voices in the land that is typically a place of great extremes.

Indications are, Indian women are determined to break long-held silences and become increasingly demanding, forcing law-enforcement authorities probing sexual offences to pay attention.

The seemingly innocuous air of Indian women, characterised by disarming smiles and soft-spoken greetings still linger on the surface, but that is just a fa├žade as they have signalled in no uncertain terms that there must be an end to the culture, to end violence against women.

The demanding tones of India's women have seen to that. Within a 24-hour period, 67,000 Indians joined an online fight initiated by a young mother, to end the "culture of rape".

Another Facebook petition by a mother of two has generated nearly 37,000 responses.