Bigots with Power

The mountain of shame with our treatment of women keeps mounting. There is unending evidence that provocative clothes have little to do with rape and molestation, yet our policemen and political leaders choose to blame the women for being victims. I challenge them to find the woman in India who hasn’t been molested on public transport. If the entire country is full of provocative women, then maybe they need to come to terms with the world they live in.

On the other hand, considering that most men don’t rape and will spend entire lives without raping, it is difficult to blame women for being provocative, because if women’s clothing were the problem, all men would have raped at some point or the other – or at least most of them. If provocative clothes were the problem, women in salwar kameez and saris wouldn’t be raped.

These are facts women have got tired of repeating, and yet they seem to make no impact on the intellect of these misogynists.

Behavioral science deals with a phenomenon called projection, where a person denying something about self condemns its manifestation in the world outside. So, a person who feels lust and hides it out of guilt, blames whatever he is seeing at the timefor his feelings that he doesn’t want to face. The fact is, we see the world through a lens of our thoughts. It is like the blind men and the elephant. Whether the elephant is called a pillar or rope is less about the elephant and more about the blind man’s ability to understand it.

To avoid discomfort of responsibility for their own actions, the irresponsible mind projects it at the object they wish to exploit in an effort to justify attacking it. In attacking it, the perpetrator finds relief for his own illegitimate thoughts. But the justification is false. The cause of the action is not external. This is not dissimilar to hitting the object that a child hurt itself on to make the child stop crying. Except that these are adults making no effort whatsoever to manage their own thoughts and actions and the “objects” being hit are living, breathing human beings.

They prefer to deflect condemnation from those who represent their thinking onto victims of those thoughts and actions in a macabre attempt to justify their own inhuman attitudes toward women.

In a superficial sense, it works too. The DGP of Andhra Pradesh, V. Dinesh Reddy blamed women’s clothing and (believe it or not) food men eat for rapes. Now Karnataka’s women and child welfare minister C C Patil blames rising incidents of rape on provocative clothes. And KK Seethamma, who heads the committee against sexual harassment in Bangalore University thinks women wear obscene clothes to tempt men. Last year, the DCP of Delhi had blamed women traveling alone, unescorted, conveniently forgetting our “Women’s day celebration” of the murder of a young girl in broad daylight outside her college in the capital of the country. Shiela Dixit’s “One should not be Adventurous” was another such one.

The terrifying part of this is not just that women are being blamed for rapes, but the kind of clothing that is being considered as obscene. Reddy speaks of women wearing salwar kameez. Seethamma thinks that blouses of saris should be full sleeved! In other words, almost every woman in the country is obscene and that is why men rape. Every person mentioned above is in a position where he or she is expected to protect rights of women.

Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan K. G. Balakrishnan had tried to fix this problem by approving of marriage between rapist and victim – in essence opening the door to permanent victimization of the women by being pressured into a marriage to prevent shame – make it look ok, never mind if the victim is condemned to living with her oppressor.

Aparently these shining custodians of the well being of our country don’t read news. MOST rapes are of modestly dressed women. Women dressed provocatively are actually NOT attractive targets for rapists, because they are less likely to stay silent out of shame, more likely to fight back, make a scene, file a complaint and slap them in a line up.

But the ostrich game here is that this is about provocative women. “If only women were not provocative, everything would be all right.” Tell that to men who get raped. Tell that to babies that get raped. Should the baby have worn a less transparent diaper? The vulnerable in any society are the first visible victims of its decay, but make no mistake, the decay is all pervading. If all women and kids were separated totally from all men, there still would be rapes.

Blaming the victim is a long time technique of those in power who are not interested in protecting the weak. Whether it is peaceful protesters being brutally silenced, or it is women being raped. It becomes convenient to make their safety their problem and shrug it off as them being responsible for their own suffering. There is no interest in challenging powerful people and suffering unnecessary inconvenience in order to protect un-advantageous weak people.

This, bigotry is the reality of the protectors in our country. Is it any wonder that India is the fourth worst place in the world for a woman? Yes. A worldwide survey has come up with data. The even scarier part in this is our population. Fourth worst in the world takes on a whole new meaning when put into the context of our size. To put it bluntly, we are one of the major contributors to women’s rights violations worldwide – not a list we should aspire to be on.

Women’s clothing is a guaranteed red herring. It distracts from their failure to prevent crimes to a debate that is irrelevant to it – the conclusion becomes about women’s clothes or men’s culpability and misses the fact that these people are incompetent at their jobs and continue to earn salaries and victimize victims of their incompetence further through blame.

Well, here is the wake up call. A mob of thirty odd men gang molested a woman standing on the street on New Year’s Eve. It was broadcast on TV. She was escorted by a man. She was wearing a full sleeved sweater. A group of thirty odd men fell upon her like a pack of dogs and the police beat them away like the dogs they were.

In other words, these brilliant orators explaining how it is a woman’s fault she gets raped don’t know which end of their anatomy they are talking from. Sorry to rain on your parade. Happy New Year!

Some thoughts on AFSPA

Again, the time is come to talk about the AFSPA and again, the rhetoric is the same on all sides. Another classic Indian stalemate.

Omar Abdullah has taken on himself to get the AFSPA revoked from some parts of Kashmir at least, and wants the Army to give him options other than “No”.

The Army, on its part is adamant that revoking the AFSPA will be the equivalent of giving terrorists free rein – a claim that is scoffed by people who want the AFSPA revoked, but a claim extremely likely to be true by the estimates of many people well-versed with counter-insurgency operations.

Human rights advocates persistently point out abuses by the Army as a reason to revoke the AFSPA, conveniently measuring human rights by the standards of a secure region and protests by the standards of a disputed region. They also consistently ignore that the larger number of human rights abuses is by militants which is possible to get higher with revocation of AFSPA. The stand here seems to be anti-state in the name of human rights rather than a well-considered focus on human rights, which could have created suggestions with better possibilities to work, since this group is credible in the eyes of both state and people.

Kashmiris themselves have diverse objectives, and no single perspective can be considered as representative of all.

Considering all these voices and their multiple desired outcomes, it remains important to identify areas all can agree on and consolidate those.

One such area is human rights. Whether the Army needs AFSPA or not, every side of this debate agrees that civilians have rights and they must be respected. There clearly needs to be reform that allows regular proscecution of soldiers engaging in human rights abuse. Rape, extra-judicial killings and such cannot be called counter-insurgency, and there needs to be a divorce from the concept of all pervading exemption from prosecution.

The Army claims to have suspended several of the accused, and it is a good beginning, but really a suspension is irrelevant. It is an Army matter on whether the soldier’s behavior is acceptable in service or not. It cannot be considered justice for a rape or murder. In my view, the punishment for these should be the same as for any other rapist or murderer and from a civil court, unless the Army thinks it covers rapes and extra judicial killings as a part of the job description. Whether existing law provides for this or if it should be amended or a new law created, I don’t know, but this is important.

Understandably there is concern over soldiers being framed, and the Army can and should provide competent lawyers if they believe a soldier is being framed, but keeping non-counter-insurgency harm to civilians out of the jurisdiction of civil courts leaves them with no recourse. The Army cannot live in a place and flaunt its laws too!

At the same time, the separatists need to tone down the rhetoric a lot, if they expect their concerns to be taken seriously. The story of victimization may be true, but as a story of a special victimization of Kashmir, it doesn’t wash. Human rights abuse is very common all over India and indeed South Asia at the very least. If they imagine Pakistan, China or even an independent Kashmir would be any better, they need to get a dose of reality here. It needs fought and it needs fixed, yes, but is it a Kashmir special? Only if you know no other place than Kashmir, and no other logic than brainwash.

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Black Humor Break:

Human rights abuse in Kashmir by the state should be considered as the true sign that the state considers Kashmiris their own. See how Baba Ramdev was attacked in the capital of the country. A Hindu, Brahmin, no less. We do it everywhere. Protest anything, and you get squashed. That is how India treats dissent. You are perfectly Indian, not to worry.

End Black Humor
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It also isn’t an Army speciality. False encounters have been done by police and militants. Rapes have been done by absolutely every occupation man has known in far greater proportion than our Army. Read news of cops, for example. So revoking the AFSPA may not be the miracle cure it is advertized as.

On the other hand, militancy being the reason for Army presence is wearing thin. It is Pakistan’s stated policy to promote cross border terrorism. The Army itself reports camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir being intact, routine infiltrations and cover fire from Pakistani posts. There is absolutely no indication that Pakistan will change its mind over this. Ever. In fact, Hafiz Saeed & Co are openly advocating more mayhem in recent days. This can be considered a permanent feature of having Pakistan for a neighbour. “Can we consider an Army in civilian areas a permanent feature?” – is the question.

While we are impacted by Pakistani actions, we are not responsible for them. We are responsible for our actions. And choosing indefinite Army control for a region doesn’t seem to be one of our brighter ideas.

The Army’s concern about pockets of militancy seems valid and makes complete sense and is not something that should be taken lightly – particularly by those who claim an interest in human rights and safety.

So there needs to be another way. And it cannot be military, it needs to be political and administrative. There needs to be some kind of plan for handing over control of the region to local police – including counter-insurgency. Possibly a specialist police force or strengthening an existing one. That might mean training, equipment, etc. With the intention that the Army will not be expected to come in and fight fires that get lit once it exits civilian areas. When this is done, it will become safe to revoke the AFSPA.

Lack of insurgency alone cannot be enough as Omar Abdullah seems to be thinking, because without the capacity with local forces, the revoking of the AFSPA will indeed be an invitation to militants in that case. If that happens, the Army will have to be back too and we’ll have this same debate over and over.

This should be planned well and in terms of a permanent administrative solution in a sensitive area.

There will need to be provisions for the Army supply routes and transit bases and the rights of the soldiers to their protection by the local forces outside camp/convoy perimeters and themselves inside. There will obviously need to be the provision to repel attacks and give immediate chase to perpetrators – AFSPA or not. There will be border areas under the control of the Army. There will obviously need to be interfaces between local forces and Army…

It could prove to be a much welcome image boost for both politicians and Army. It will be much needed relief for soldiers from the stress of living with an unseen enemy among civilians. It will be a big breather for civilians to be secured by a machinery they can challenge if wronged. Also, police in general have far more of their role geared to dealing with civilian problems. The Army simply are not geared for that the way cops are. AFSPA isn’t the only gap in function.

But yes, getting the Army out of the hair of civilians one way or the other, is an important goal to take up. The Army cannot be turned into an administrative solution. Nor can the actions of a neighbouring country be considered adequate reason for permanent Army control in our own.

To new beginnings

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
~ William Blake

The year sets a humble end. A year of upheaval, of pain, of struggle, joys and learning.

The biggest thing that comes to mind is people. This was a year of vibrant people reaching for the stars. A few caught them, most fell back, but in falling back knew that they could reach higher.

I think this year was a long overdue mirror. A mirror to the state we were in, a mirror to our arrogance in thinking we could change things at will. And a mirror that shows the future. It is going to be a long and challenging struggle and this year is a sample of how it is going to feel. In our country and my home too.

The end of the year leaves me in a quiet, reflective space. It has been an extraordinary year, but it clearly speaks of a challenge taken on that is of far greater magnitude than it seemed in the energetic start.

The start was precious, because it put us on the road. Now comes the time to walk it. This is about endurance. About a lasting commitment to values, rather than hasty norms. A path of courageous soul searching.

Words I wrote keep coming to mind:

Perfection is an illusion. The road to Nirvana is in continuous improvement. Forever.

I am thankful for the learning this year has brought me, and I offer it to the coming year so that I may grow.

Here is to wishing all of us the right challenges to keep us on an exciting journey that expands us all as people, a nation and a world. To us falling asleep each day thinking eagerly of what we take on the next.

Here is to slogging our asses off in pursuit of goals that make our hearts soar with dreams. That make us do things our best heroes did.

Here is to love and laughter. After all, isn’t all of the above for this? So here is to choosing love and laughter in all we do.

Learning from DGP V Dinesh Reddy

Ah… it is that time of the year when pesky women wear tantalizing clothes and the poor section of the human population infected with penises is helpless to prevent said penises dragging them onto rape scenes.

Andhra Pradesh director general of police (DGP) V. Dinesh Reddy is the latest to take a hallowed place of honor to raise awareness about these little understood appendages that attach themselves to a significant part of the population and drag its victims onto crime scenes, spoiling the lives and reputations of these innocents immeasurably.

Cutting edge research points to a potentially lethal combination of the sight of skin (without hair to cover it) combined with ingestion of our traditional aphrosodiac food leading to short circuits in neurons that allow aliens to take control of the mind of the victim of the penis, leading to short term memory loss and a propensity to rape.

The food is particularly concerning, since common food used for people of all ages and genders seems to be causing adverse reactions in some people afflicted with penises.

Considering the widespread worldwide epidemic of penises, he salutes all women in the world for carefully controlling the stimulus and food of these victims so that most of them are able to live somewhat legal lives in spite of this great affliction. It is not easy to create carefully controlled circumstances for over half the population, but he hopes that the few penile hijackings still happening can be controlled if the women really try.

However, another problem is on the horizon. Some of these penises have mutated and misfire on sight of the hairless skin of young children. While it is true that the profound wisdom of Dinesh Reddy can be applied to them too, it is proving to be a little too complicated for brain deficient humans. Can someone help?

We are stuck on adapting:

“When you are taking food which gives good josh, as time goes you tend to be more naughty… Rapes and all cannot be controlled by police. And people are turning out to be more fashionable. Even the villagers are wearing salwar-kameez from coastal Andhra villages where it used to be very traditional. All these things provoke these type of things, which is not in control of the police… So rapes per se increase or decrease, you cannot attribute to the police.”

This needs to be done in a child-friendly format so that very small kids can understand and protect men from penises too. Preverbal will be great, as some of these naughty, provocative kids begin really early… like a month or two… they really need to be up to date on careful protection of the men.

But we aren’t entirely stupid or lazy. We have already adapted

Particularly on rape to a query by press, DGP has said one of the factors is the provoking dress which is being worn as present day fashion for which police has no control.

to

Particularly on pedophilia to a query by press, DGP has said one of the factors is the provoking dress which is being worn as present day fashion for which police has no control.

A pious traditional women’s organization has offered the support of their numerous volunteers to spread awareness on these teachings in homes and schools.

Other feminist organizations have also come up with helpful suggestions to save these victims of penile hijackings. Suggestions range from castration to installing boards with holes every few meters in public areas. Others have suggested that victims of penises be strictly restricted to a bland diet. A third suggestion suggests blinding extreme cases and putting blinkers on mild ones to prevent unintended exposure.

Details unclear, but a delegation will be meeting the president soon (most people lower on the scale themselves are victims). Feel free to add suggestions so that we can protect a large part of our population from being hijacked by alien appendages and used as weapons against us.

Note: This is a piece of satire based on a true incident (quotes attributed to the DGP are real) of yet another instance of women being blamed for rapes.

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