Last year around this time, in this column, I wrote a piece titled Delhi when will your men stop raping you. I was angry on seeing a video online where a young girl was molested in full public view by a mob of people as she was coming out of a party on New Year’s eve and by the time I had finished writing my column I felt I had dealt with my emotions constructively. This year I find myself agitated over the same issue and I wonder if writing is going to help me this time around.
Frankly speaking I am tired at the angry scenes around me in the aftermath of the rape incident. Perhaps tired is not the right word; jaded is closer. Everywhere I go, people are angry; I switch on the television and find angry news anchors speaking to angry guests; in the newspapers angry readers write angry letters to angry editors who publish them prominently; in the wake of the heinous crime we as a nation are far from being sensitive towards our women but angrier at the state of affairs.
For many writers, putting their thoughts on paper is a way to deal with emotions they find hard to deal with otherwise. I am not sure if I am one of those writers (I don’t write each day and have lost count of the number of times I have tried to get myself to write a journal) but I do know that writing helps me deal with anger: an emotion I have had a problem with for as long as I can remember.
Today, for instance, I still feel the anger at the crimes against women seething inside me and don’t know how I am going to deal with it. Perhaps I should write a film on it or maybe a more personal longish piece on the history of violence against women as I have seen it around me, among my family and people known to me. But such exposition is not the stuff for an under 1,000 word column.
In all the anger around me, I am looking for one sane voice that points to a better future than a harm ridden past. A voice that speaks to me in a language I understand, a voice that shows me where I have gone wrong in my thinking without making me feel guilty because guilt will only lead to more anger. Yet in the last few weeks every angry voice makes everyone feel a little guiltier. Men feel guilty because they are made to believe they are not doing enough to protect their women; women feel guilty because all along they have been led to believe that someone else is going to help them feel safer.
With so much guilt around us, I wonder if we will ever be able to deal with the problem at hand: how do we make women less vulnerable to crimes of sexuality? How do we create a society for our children where sexual harassment jokes are not encouraged, where phrases like “if you can’t avoid the rape enjoy the rape” are frowned upon, a society where parents do not buy dolls for their daughters and a gun for their sons, in short a society that has shed its misogynist outlook and looks at the future with hope rather than despair?
In a democracy, I am beginning to learn, there are certain questions which when you ask them means you as a citizen simply cannot take the answers. For instance how should a democracy treat its members who have been convicted or are under trial for an offence as serious as murder and as heinous as the gang rape in Delhi? Once a man has been arrested for rape how do we deal with him so that he doesn’t entertain the idea ever again. Or if the idea crops its ugly head in his mind, how does he deal with it without causing harm to an individual?
These are serious questions that neither make us angry nor make us feel guilty which is why I think these are questions no one seems to be asking in the angry rhetoric we find all around us.
Mayank Tewari is a writer