As I write this blog, rape number 631′s victim is struggling to survive in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. The brutality of the incident is beyond the imagination of an educated civilized humane society. The recent barbarity did lead to many candle vigils and uproars amongst the tolerant Indian crowd. Several news channels were flooded with high TRP debates ,which included the intellectuals, to chalk out a solution and to none’s pleasure the banal cliches by the authorities. But does all this answer the inevitable question of why number 631? I am no Delhite but I am quoting one that shares the REAL plight of woman in Delhi.
When she was living as a paying guest in an upscale south Delhi neighbourhood a few years ago, a drunk male cook barged into her room at night, yanked at her bed sheet and tried to attack her. The man fled after she screamed.
“My landlord, a perfectly respectable person on the outside, came up and said I must have been dreaming, that there could not have been an attack. His mother had heard my screams so she believed me. I left the place, and they said they had sacked the cook. When I checked later, I found that the cook had returned and was working,” she remembers.
After she joined salsa classes a few years later, her friends arrived to pick her up for a competition.
They were waiting for a taxi when a policeman walked up and challenged the boys. “You are hanging out with a loose woman,” the policeman grunted. “Give me your parents’ numbers, we will tell them.”
When her friends protested, the policeman went up to the landlady and extracted a bribe. “They told her they would file cases against her saying she had rented her place to a suspicious woman without a proper rent agreement.”
One evening, a few years ago, she was walking home from work when a young man sidled up to her and said something very obscene. She asked him to shut up and walked on.
The man ran after her, stopped her in her tracks, and told her bluntly: “I will pour acid on your face next time you say that.” Then he vanished.
“I came home and began crying. I was scared of going out for the next few days,” she says.
It doesn’t help much if a woman is accompanied by a male friend or spouse.
Another woman friend travelling with a male friend in an auto-rickshaw was waylaid by a group of young boys in a posh neighbourhood a few years ago. They blocked the auto-rickshaw at a crossing, pointed a gun at her friend and shouted abuse at him.
“They wanted to instigate him, they said he was going out with a prostitute. My friend kept quiet and apologised. They let us go after robbing us,” she remembers.
When she travels alone in an auto-rickshaw on the city’s mean streets, she keeps having real and imaginary conversations on the phone with friends and relatives. She doesn’t take an auto-rickshaw if she finds the driver overfriendly. If she takes a taxi, she texts the registration number to a friend. She keeps phone numbers for a handful of “reliable” drivers whom she can count on to take her home.
The Supreme Court convicts the man to life imprisonment as he was drunk. Alcohol being the reason for not sending him to the gallows. Two more convicts are detained to our shame. People blame rapes on pornography, alien cultures , sometimes on women itself. I blame it on the society’s attitude punched with decadent law-and-order which gives us these tastes.