By Prof. Narendra Nayak
Mangalore: We are forced to contrast these cases and also the attitudes of the general public, those of the so called godmen and the role of these feudal mindsets in the two cases to see the causes for such things to happen in this country and also understand how the perpetrators of such heinous crimes get away with what they do. First of all let me clarify why I have named the victims when the law prohibits the publication of the name- it is because of the reason that the parents of both these girls have come into the open and have made their names public. Again, if these victims were alive it would have been different but their death has made a difference that it no longer matters if their names are made public or not.
The paternalistic attitude of the powers that be is a major force that trivializes such crimes of rape and even murder. In many cases where the rape happens as an incestuous occurrence, then the whole thing is hushed up as a family matter. In order to ‘save the bread winner’ everything is swept under the carpet. With such an attitude it is easy for the mentality to grow that one can get away with anything. The supporters of such mindsets make statements like women crossing the limits, the girl should have begged the rapists and that she too is as guilty as the criminals, loose characters of women and so on. The saddest part is that such justifications have come even from a woman who is the chief of the women’s commission of a state!
In case of Soujanya Gowda , she went missing between the bus stop and her home on the previous day at around 4pm which is broad day light and her dead body in a state of undress was found in Dharmastala on the 10th of October,2012. When she went missing there was a search involving hundreds of people but to no avail. The body was found on the next day at a place where nothing had been found on the previous day. Interestingly, all the women’s groups and political parties who had made a fuss and public protests during the pub attacks and the moral police ‘raid’ on a home stay birthday party have been silent about this more serious crime taking place in our own back yard. In fact in Ujire and Dharmasthala there have been hundreds of such cases which need serious investigation by an unbiased central agency like the CBI. The accused, supposedly a mental patient and/or a black belt in karate is alleged to have done the task of rape and murder single handedly which any one in his/her right senses would find difficult to believe. But, the police have stood by this absurd story with the full knowledge that the accused will be acquitted by the court as the case has no evidence to back it up. Three months have passed and a CID investigation is going on. There are protests by some young people and the people of the Belthangady taluk have organized themselves to fight for justice because it is now a matter of safety of every woman in that area. Though this incidence has happened very much in Bharat and not in India, the proponents of the theory that such things happen in the urban areas have not taken any interest in the matter which their Sarasangha Chalak of RSS Sri Mohan Bhagwath can make note of. Sowjanya was a modest village girl not being painted or dented like a Congress politician remarked. She was a pretty child but that was not her fault- yes she was a child not yet over eighteen years of age. That must have attracted the attention of some feudal elements of the area who feel that women are their property and when she was resisted their advances would have resulted in the horrific incident. But, of course such rape/murders are a rupee, a dozen in Bharat despite of all those who speak about the virtues of demurely dressed Bharatiya Nari types being free from such attacks.
As for the so called godman Asaram whose ashrams have seen several murders of young boys whose statement that she should have taken deeksha whatever it may be, the Sowjanya murder case occurred in an area which is called as Dharmasthala where adharma has no existence. It was also said by this so called godman that she should have pleaded with them as their sister as if such blinded rapists have any mercy for such things. It is shameful that such incidents occur in a country where it is said by the majority religion that god reside where the woman is worshipped- perhaps this is the way that woman is to be worshipped by raping and killing! It is not that the next largest group of followers of another religion are far behind- they too have made absurd statements like co-education should be banned and women should not be ‘provocatively’ dressed as if it was the dress that causes the rapes. That such incidents happen frequently on those countries where there are Islamic laws is another matter but one making an allegation of rape has to prove that or face charges of adultery which invites death by stoning. It also says that the act should be witnessed by four local prominent men as if the victim is an actress in a pornographic movie.
If we have to see the Talibani mentality one need not go to Pakistan or Afganistan; a visit to Pondicherry will do. Here, rules of conduct have been proposed for girls that they should wear overcoats, co-education must be stopped and such numerous absurdities have been put forward. When North India has Khap Panchayaths which make such rules why should South India lag behind? We could have our own one’s here particularly in rural areas- the Bharat of Bhagwath where even inter caste marriages can result in bloodshed and murders if we go by what has happened in Tamilnadu, interior Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh etc.
Talking of regionalism we have to draw the attention of another bigot no other than the scion of the Thakre clan who has gone on record that all the rapists in the Jyoti Singh case are Biharis! But, the same logic cannot be applied to the Soujanya case as there are no Biharis around the place in Ujire/Dharmasthala! So, going by his views one could say that Biharis might have specially summoned to perform this grisly task and then return to their native land! Well nothing better can be expected from politicians- as one said it was the painted and dented women who were taking part in the protests while another is on record that young men need sex once in a fortnight and probably he justified the rape in that sense that if was not available it was their privilege to rape the first woman who appears on the horizon.
As we humanists see it is a problem with the superstitious mindset of the people- one is that of looking at a woman as an inferior as dictated by all religions. The female of the species is always treated as a second rate citizen whether it be the dictats of Manu, the Bible or the Quran. Enough and more can be said about these things which would be in volumes. Manu saying that women deserve no freedom and should be always subservient to a man, in Islam a man can have four wives while a woman can marry only one man, the bible holding the woman as a temptress who brought the down fall of mankind and so on. In Bharat, the feudal elements look upon all women in their fiefdom as their property to be enjoyed at will. It is these attitudes that lead to the state that we are in today. On one hand female feticide has seen to the badly skewed sex ration while on the other the migration of the males to India from Bharat and the consequent separation from their legally wedded partners has led to a stage where there are frustrated men waiting to pounce on any one who seems to be an easy prey.
It is for all of us to rise and protest these murderous attacks on our fellow human beings- the female of our species and who is an equal to man. The attitudes of the establishment clearly show that the whole set up is misogynistic. There are questions like why a woman was dressed like that or what business she had to be in a particular place at that time and these questions cannot be asked to a citizen of this country who is equal in the eyes of the law. How a woman dresses is her lookout and where she goes and with whom she wishes to go is her personal business and no rape or attack or any other physical or mental harassment can be justified by such excuses. Only when men are taught to look upon women as their equals can these things be set right. Until then, the Soujanya Goudas and Jyoti Singhs will be raped, tortured and killed by the elements of the society who feel that they can get away with anything.
Prof. Narendra Nayak is a consumer activist and a rationalist. This is a regular column and we invite readers’ response. The writer can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org