Before I start with my thoughts, I request you to watch this clip from one of my favorite movies (and yours too, if you love traveling) – Highway.
If you watched the video clipping, by now you would have realized where my thoughts are headed to. The thought of traveling and visiting the scenic mountains is the first one to pop in our mind when we think about this movie. Most of us did not take away this message of the movie that Imtiaz Ali (Total respect for the man) so subtly portrayed in this 133 minutes long motion picture. Yes, I am talking about rape and molestation; not just child molestation but sexual abuse of every kind – female sexual abuse, pedophilia (child sexual abuse, in case you are not familiar with the word), male sexual abuse (yes, that’s a thing in case you did not know) and even animal sexual abuse (It is a shady and dark world, really).
Two years ago, India stood together as a nation to protest against what we know as one of the most shameful sexual assault case in Indian history – The Delhi Gangrape case. Last year, two girls were raped and murdered by hanging them to death on a tree in a village in Uttar Pradesh. Recently, renowned Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf came out about how he was raped early this year. Several other instances involving Indian as well as foreign women have been highlighted in the media in the recent years. It is not just India that is ridden with the perverts who forget that they are assaulting another human, just from another gender (sometimes the same gender) and invading a person’s privacy to an extent that it leaves the victim shattered for life. In India and so many other countries that have very unique cultural values, it becomes a matter of shame for the victim rather than the perpetrator to have been assaulted. In some countries, the victim have been stoned to death rather than the offender. However, that is not something I want to talk about.
I know a few such people who have been molested, not just once but for years and have decided to stay quiet just to keep their integrity intact in the society. The very same society, that gave them the lifelong pain and misery by making sure that they do not trust anybody with the fact that they have been molested. What have they done wrong? They are the ones who were wronged with! They are the victims. Unfortunately, we portray them as people who are the sinners instead of understanding that they are people like us and need even more love and respect than ever before after what has happened with them.
Last week, a woman was raped in the capital city of the country leaving the country red faced all over again. What is even more shameful is the insensitivity of the media and the police to report such cases. In a country where the media is run on TRPs and “breaking news” is the reason why the news agencies exist, insensitivity and the greed for money is reflected in every sentence of the news provided by them. This article on The Hindu‘s website is one bittersweet example of the same. It is gravely funny how they provide full information about the girl and end the article with a statement stating that the police did not reveal the identity of the cab company. With a society around us (not just Delhi or other metro cities) that do not accept girls who drink, girls who go home late and girls who are not living life under the rules that were set by the educated people several years ago, it is insensitive on the part of police as well as the news agencies to provide details of the victim or the accused (not the convict; just an accused) in public where they can be tracked and the cloak of shame will be hung around them forever.
The ban of the famous Uber, OlaCabs, TaxiForSure and a few others came in the wake of the unfortunate event as a solution from the government not just in India but in many different countries of the world. Even though many are blaming the cab company for not keeping track of a driver’s profile, banning a good service is not the answer to the humongous evil problem that we face. Shehnaz Treasurywala wrote an open letter to Narendra Modi, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Anil Ambani stating that men should be responsible to “save women” from the misdeeds of these miscreants. While I concur with the anger in her letter, men should not be the guards or the gatekeepers for women either. An ideal society would never require companies to identify and keep track of their drivers to ensure people’s safety or one gender protecting the other from its own.
My little mind and weirdly low level thought process fails to understand why companies like Uber, OlaCabs and TaxiForSure should be banned? In my simple understanding, the only thing that these companies do is to provide a brand name under which the local taxis can be run as a union, therefore, increasing a trust factor among the people who would otherwise still use the local taxis in the same way as they use the shared auto-rickshaws that still ply around in nearly every part of this country. Instead of focusing energy on improvising this service industry, shutting down the industry is the best solution that governments across the world could come up with. Similarly, instead of urging the “proud celebrities” to help spread awareness about being a good person, Shehnaz Treasurywala could only come up with a petition to the celebs to ensure public castration and capital punishment for the rapists. Even though, I do not support the act altogether, I do support the cause for which these actions have been taken.
Shehnaz’s appeal and the ban on multiple cab services have taken the “shame-light” away from the rape incident and the victim’s plight. However, it is not at all shocking to think how the society would distance itself from the victim because they would be concerned about the society itself. Also, it is not shocking for me to see how the self-righteous literate (used non-interchangeably with educated, again) people would still keep on portraying these victims as people to be shamed. And it would be quiet amusing to see how we will still be picturing women and men as sexual objects by using words like – “That chick is hot! I could totally bang her!“, “Look at her calves! I could totally eat them!“, “If only I could spend one night with him/her!” and similar statements for every single person in our everyday lives. Lust is good and healthy but excess of it (rather excessive expectation of it) is what is ruining the values as a whole. And the insensitivity and lack of empathy of the people is only fueling the pain caused during the aftermath of the already burning flame of uncontrollable expectation of lust.
Is this really what it should be? Can we really not be good humans and be a little bit more sensitive and empathetic? Let’s be human first and then we will talk about being a good human!