How can it be okay?

Sandhya Rao | Updated on March 12, 2018

Threatening the safety of women is an act of terrorism

If Tapas Pal thought he could get his name in the papers by threatening to send hordes to rape and ravage the women of the CPI(M), he succeeded. Everybody’s talking about him. While some hate his guts, others, including his bosses and friends, think it’s okay, he just said something in the heat of the moment, in fact it was actually a slip of the tongue! Not to be outdone, a Shiv Sena MLA called Prakash Bala Sawant threatens to strip and thrash an elderly woman.

There can be no ambivalence in interpreting such behaviour, which is tantamount to acts of terrorism. The kind of thinking Pal, Sawant and others like them represent threaten the safety of the women of India. And that is an internal security threat.

Pal, for instance, would do well to remember that rape and/or sexual assault leading to injury invites the death penalty. So what would the threat of rape and sexual assault leading to injury and possible death invite?

There’s a bigger issue here. We claim to be a hoary civilisation which is over 5,000 years old. We claim to be the largest democracy, with a remarkable Constitution that guarantees every citizen the right to live peacefully, ply trades, and practice religions – in the gender in which they were born or chose. One of the fundamental tenets of the majority religion which describes itself as a way of life is the concept of devi, goddess, mother, woman. And how do we venerate this devi? By threatening the women of the nation and getting away with it.

When a 23-year-old who had simply been minding her business was raped and tortured and killed, we called her ‘Nirbhaya’ and said never again, even as rapes and threats continued, reported and mostly unreported, all over the country.

Yet, we enjoin the women of our country to remain fearless, be nirbhaya. How is that even possible when clearly there is a sickening canker in our society held ransom to a deviant machismo and ‘ungendered’ patriarchal strain. So much so, even a supposed firebrand woman leader like Mamata Banerjee takes an inexplicably lenient view of the whole business. What’s wrong with us?

Senior Assistant Editor

Published on July 09, 2014

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