Dear ladies of the ruling coalition,
What was that about? The water-cannons and unnecessary beating up of citizens in Delhi. You were all acting like frightened rabbits cowering in a hutch. Maybe you too were thinking — what is this about?
Clearly, this gang-rape had no politician involved, nor cops. And once the rapists’ brutality had jolted them into action, the police did arrest the accused. You can say the police did its job. Then why the howls of protest? Here, let me offer some answers.
1 People are feeling helpless. Each time that happens — in any context — they will turn to the state for solutions. Your voters demand that rape be prevented. I know you’re thinking: “How?” How, when you know that the rapists are also citizens, perhaps from the same demographic thronging Raisina Hill? It is not like the protestors know the answer. It’s your job to offer answers, fast. If you’re not up for the job, quit.
2 This is not about one gangrape. It is a lifetime of outrage. It is the fear and rage one feels after being assaulted, or when one sees a loved one suffer, and the criminal is free. Perhaps one cannot find the criminal, or even recognise him. Perhaps the police didn’t take the investigation seriously. Mainly, we are angry because we know something like this might happen again. This is the rage of assaults past, present and future.
3 There are daily reports of gangrape from every state. Today I read about three cases in one paper. One report was about a girl who drank poison because she was being stalked and harassed by her rapists. The police had released them. When we read of such cases, we lose faith in the police and the judiciary. You can prevent injustice being heaped upon injustice by ensuring that the rape-accused do not get bail so easily.
4 The police force — both, male and female cops — is notoriously insensitive. The force urgently needs a training module on how to deal with sexual crimes, starting from beat constables and going up to Inspector Generals.
5 You urgently need a witness protection and rape survivor protection programmes. Make it happen.
6 Talk to women — including girl students — about their fears and desires. It has been a long time since you lived like ordinary citizens and so, you come off as indifferent or clueless. If you had a clue, you’d know that time of night, location, dress or profession has nothing to do with sexual assault. Except, perhaps, in identifying the poorest women to potential rapists. Leave your laal-batti gaadi at home. See for yourself how we experience public spaces.
7 You need to stop looking for ways to blame a victim. You need to stop restricting women as a way of controlling crime. If anyone terms the assault a ‘political conspiracy’, you need to smack them down (non-violently). You need to tell your colleagues to shut up, publicly.
8 People are angry about everything else. Corruption and filth and traffic jams (even if they themselves are responsible). But fix street lights. And take away all power from the corrupt. Rapists often go unpunished because they bribe the police.
9 As part of social education in schools and colleges, let young boys be taught about correct, respectful, humane ways of approaching girls. Teach them to dance. Teach them to express their feelings.
10 Punish all kinds of rapists. Punish armymen. Punish cops. Punish the rapists of 1984. Punish the rapists of 1992. And 2002.
Show us that you’re in charge. Talk to urban planners. Talk to psychologists. Talk to women’s groups. Fix this.
Annie Zaidi writes poetry, stories, essays, scripts (and in a dark, distant past, recipes she never actually tried)