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We failed as a society - not the first time

We are ashamed of ourselves - damn right, we should be

We will never forget - until the next time it happens again

And we fail, we feel ashamed and we forget

How about we try something different? How about we really show our elected govts how concerned we are and how desperate we are to address these concerns?

How about we stage a #NationalWalkout on April 23rd, Monday @ 10:00am?

What is a #NationalWalkout?

Simple answer is no matter where we are, who we are and what we are, we can just decide to walk as an individual or as a group, leaving aside whatever work we may be doing at that point in time

Walk to where?

If we are in the city, closer to the parliament or the state assembly hall, walk to that place

If we are not, we can walk to the nearest court or the nearest district headquarters or the nearest police station or nearest any office dealing with public welfare.

Why a NationalWalkout?

This is a problem concerning not just a village or a town or a city or a state or a child or an adult but a problem concerning an entire country and the entire humanity, because what we are witnessing is a rape of our consciousness.

Why April 23rd, Monday at 10:00am?

Its the following Monday giving us a weeks time to prepare and organize.10:00am because its the time when its not too early and not too late, but just about the right time to cause inconvenience to us and to send the message to our elected govts

What do we demand?

  1. No more victimization of the victims and the guilty should be punished
  2. Nirbhaya Law should be implemented in spirit

What after the Walkout?

We can chose to continue the fight and keep the pressure on the elected govt and may be even the rest of the political parties. Let this be the beginning of the end of our inaction and indifference.

What kind of preparation is required?

Prepare placards, banners, invite ministers, press, media, organize events around these themes and basically try and do everything to rally people and create pressure.

One week may be a bit aggressive for a #NationalWalkout, but may be it isn't after all - it may be a bit late.

Would it be worth it?

Remember the last time this happened, the result was the Nirbhaya act. Yes its another issue that the act itself is yet to be implemented, but without the public pressure, the law makers would not have done what they were forced to do. So yeah its totally worth trying, but one thing is for sure, if we don't do anything other trending on twitter or sharing on facebook, we are just fooling ourselves.

If this still doesn't convince you, I will let the data do the talking

520 kids all below 6 years of age were survivors of rape i.e. Five Hundred and Twenty. I repeat Five Hundred and Twenty. And if we include all the kids below 18 years, this number rises to 16863 i.e. Sixteen thousand eight hundred and sixty three.

  • 16863 children will carry these scars for the rest of their lives
  • 16863 children may never get justice and may never get a closure
  • 16863 children may never get a chance to heal their wounds
  • 16863 children and their loved one’s may forever try to move on, only to dragged into with every single incident that makes it to the news headline
  • 16863 children may never know what a normal childhood feels like, what growing up feels like
  • 16863 children may be living in constant fear for the rest of their lives

Girl-Child-Victims

22,205 women i.e. Twenty two thousand two hundred and five women. As these horrific numbers prove, rape crimes are beyond any age groups, beyond any cultural divides, beyond the norms of society – yes beyond the norms of society, since

Women-Rape-Victims

94.6% of the offenders are known to the rape survivors i.e. Ninety Four percent of the offenders are known to the rape survivors. Some of the offenders are family members who include grand fathers, fathers, brothers, sons, relatives and neighbors. Not implying everyone is an offender here, but what the data is proving, yet again, year after year, that the offenders are amongst us. They could be from our family, from our neighborhood, not some random person on the street and not some random person in a desolated place.

Offenders-Relation.PNG

So what is the police doing? Well, what can the police do? What can the police do when most of the cases don’t even get reported and even when they are reported, there are so many backlogs, the police can’t possibly afford to investigate the cases.

Police Cases

And what about the courts? Well, its no secret, the courts have been buried with cases pending from several years, in fact, several decades now.

Court Cases

Total-Rape-Victims

source: ncrb.gov.in

 

Disclosure of bias: I am biased against mainstream schools as currently exist in India and think they do more harm than good. We need better schools and for reasons more than security.

This is the second murder in a Ryan International School. Last year, in February, a child was found drowned in the Ryan International School in Vasant Kunj. Now there is a child found stabbed to death in the Ryan International School in Gurgaon.

Very conveniently there is the confession of a murder on TV by a bus conductor. Soon, the predictable will happen. The bus conductor will be the villain. Lawyers are already refusing to represent him, which will always leave the question of whether he is taking the fall for someone else.

The questions not being asked are how after having one murder in the school, the safety of students was still lax enough for a murder to happen in the toilet of a school. It does not explain what a bus conductor was doing in the children's toilet to begin with to have the opportunity - if at all he is the murderer as he is confessing.

But more than that, it does not explain what children were doing in that school at all. Or, for that matter, any school. The Delhi Gang Rape used a school bus to commit a horrendous rape. The driver of the bus was ferrying children on a daily basis till caught. Much outrage had ensued. Much vanishing of who the owner of the bus was happened. Sheila Dixit made it mandatory for schools to run background checks.

What happened? When the child was found dead in the Ryan International School in Vasant Kunj, many excuses were made to shrug off responsibility like he had a habit of wandering. Seriously? A child had a habit of not being in class and wandering the school and no one found it odd enough to investigate or be alert for?

I wonder at the gullibility of parents who send children to school. In an age when we don't see a two hour film without reading a review or hearing word of mouth praise first, how is it that parents commit 10 years of a child's time without so much as asking whether it is necessary at all to spend 10 years to learn to read and write.

But that is the real thing. Schools are not a service to children, they are a service to parents - a service that gets the kid out of your hair for most of the day, and installs all the knowledge a "standard human being" should have as per a template. It has nothing to do with a child's needs. Nor does it have any ability to predict what knowledge a child will need to function in the world as an adult. Most of you who learned how to calculate square roots in school have never done it after leaving school. Most of you who mugged up names of random places in the world have never found use for that information as an adult. What a child does in school has nothing to do with a child's needs.

We recognize the vulnerability of children and think they are stupid, but have no hesitation sending them off to an environment which may not be safe on their own without us. I could easily get a high paying job instead of making do with working from home. The reason I don't is that my son can't speak. Till he isn't able to tell me about his day and complain if he had a problem, not a chance I'm leaving him to strangers in day-care. I have no intentions of allowing someone who could potentially be harming my child to speak for him. And when I say harm, I include so much as intimidating or insulting a child or subjecting them to the indignity of sarcasm and taunts. Let alone murder.

I must wonder at parents who can comfortably trust a school and not think further. When there is a rape or a murder, parents suddenly get all traumatized. Parents reading about it imagine their innocent child in that place, all broken and dead, they can't bear it. Many cry, can't get images out of their heads. But it isn't like they won't send their child to school or will go and land up in the school of their own child and demand to see the files with background checks on all the people working there to make sure that robust investigation of potential risks has indeed happened.

It isn't like if their child talks about a sarcastic or unpopular teacher in school, they land up demanding that teacher account for their actions or be taken out. How many of you, after the Delhi Gang rape insisted that all personnel on the campus of your own child's school be investigated? But offending people by thinking they are suspicious is so bad, no? Yet they provide an Aadhaar that tracks people as potential criminals by default.

How many did this after any instance of a child being found raped or murdered in school? This is just the capital of the country - a place where "people like us" send their kids. There are even more horror stories from schools in smaller towns, hostels for tribals. Government schools are a free for all - may the biggest bully call the shots. What will it take for parents to see that schools are NOT SAFE FOR CHILDREN? Or at the very least to demand a security audit? What will it take to see that schools are a business that targets parent satisfaction and not kids? What will it take for people to stand up for their own damn child instead of imagining them in every crime against children and getting all emotional, but doing nothing to protect?

I am a staunch proponent of homeschooling, but I accept that it may not be an option for many people who have jobs - for example or where there are ill people in the home needing considerable attention, leaving the adults too weary to participate in a child's learning. Or where the home enviornment may have abusive people around. Sure, schools can be a necessity for many. But I think it is high time their overinflated importance be evaluated too. If a school can't get your children fluent in basic knowledge and blames children for low scores, it is basically time and money invested with zero guarantee. And today, there is no guarantee that all the education in the world will result in a job anyway. Technology is developing so fast that assistive devices may take communication to the illiterate without ever requiring them to read or write in a few decades. What exactly is it that the school is being glorified for? Why is it that the need of sending a child to school at all can't be questioned? Why is it so hard that schools face robust scrutiny? You'd have a problem if your office peon or collegaue or even the CEO squeezed your boobs as he passed by, right? What will it take to ensure that extensive efforts are made to ensure that your child isn't going to be subjected to it? How the hell is it that parents simply meekly take a school's word for it - if at all they ask.

It won't be easy. Schools are already on tight budgets. Popular culture blurs age and sexuality encouraging perverts and normalizing behavior that should create alarm. Investigations and stepping up security is time consuming, expensive. Being screened would probably be taken as an insult by many teachers who feel entitled to lack of scrutiny. But it isn't impossible either. Without security, the most logical place for a pedophile to be in is a school. Where the ratio of vulnerable targets to potentially alert protective adults is exceptionally high - say unlike a park, stressed teachers getting through their duties on autopilot are not likely to notice things unless trained for it. How many schools train their staff in basic security concepts so that they may notice and investigate potential risks?

This is my question to you, parents. When are you going to shed this blind obedience to authority figures and demand that they are worthy of the trust you entrust them with? Does your child matter or not?

Because right now, the old Ryan International School murder is all but forgotten, and the new one is on its way out of our awareness. We forget, over and over the news that shows the threat to children. Untill next time.

What will it take for you to ensure to the best of YOUR capacity that your child is not on national news for the wrong reasons?

Real News of India interviews Swami Omji among a group of BJP supporters. Swami Om Ji is contesting as a Hindu Mahasabha candidate with symbol flute.

What begins as a random interview of party volunteers takes on an ominous turn as the supporter claims to be a candidate of another party contesting to undermine Arvind Kejriwal's votes and managing another party "global acting president" of Ojaswi party of Asaram and his son Narayan Sai. He confesses on camera to publishing a crore booklets calling Arvind Kejriwal a traitor and distributing them ahead of Lok Sabha Elections. He says he handed the first booklet to Kejriwal before assaulting him (so much for BJP's accusations of AAP planting attackers).

Then he claims that they shot Gandhi - that Godse was a member of Hindu Mahasabha - and threatens to shoot Arvind Kejriwal dead if he does not understand his "explaining". This video needs to go to the Election Commission as well as the police.

The more the reporter gets the fanatic talking, the more the BJP caps around him realize what he's confessing and slink off camera (none disagree with him) and the video ends with locals confronting him about his claims of murder of Gandhi and threat to Kejriwal.

Anyone still wondering why BJP is losing this election? See this video to the end. The staunchest supporter would be revolted if he had an ounce of honesty left.

A lot of what he says is verifiable. The attack on Kejriwal, phone records could prove or disprove his claims of getting call from Modi, his records of being a candidate, membership of multiple parties is not legal in India, organized slander of a candidate, threat to Kejriwal is on record, defamation that puts Kejriwal's life at risk, and more.

This is probably the same Swami Om Ji who had demanded that the details of the Delhi Gang Rape be made public. (Apologies if incorrect, I cannot find a link for this, so going by memory - will verify and update)

Brilliant, brilliant work by Real News of India.

There are many people on Twitter saying "he looks demented" etc. At the same time, he is confessing to serious crimes in a manner that is verifiable. He is a candidate contesting polls as another party while openly participating on the streets in support of BJP. That makes him important to investigate at the very least. Being demented does not mean he is not dangerous.

"Why don't you get a job?" she asked.

"Well my child is severely disabled and needs care." I replied.

A simple reply changed the direction of the conversation. "You really shouldn't call him disabled. He is special needs." She informed me, as though it was possible for the mother of a five year old disabled child to never have heard the cosmetic term "special needs". I've heard them all, I think - special needs, differently abled, physically challenged, learning delayed, developmentally delayed.... there is an endless list as feel-gooders go on an orgy of finding names that won't hurt.

A post about "chinkies" - street term used for people with slanted eyes right from the Chinese and Japanese to Manipuris and Ladakhis - caused outrage. It may have spoken about hate attacks against them and apathy in the eyes of India, but hey, I should have used a better term.

The last straw (well one of them) was when the Delhi Gang Rape victim who died of her injuries was called a rape survivor - hello! She DIED!!! How does that make her a survivor? Well she reached hospital, so survived her rape, I guess. Perhaps we shouldn't prosecute the rapists for murder along with the rape.

I have a problem with sterile descriptors - particularly ones that are inaccurate. A rape victim is NOT a survivor. "Survivor" implies that every rape is as good as death - which is the plain fucking patriarchal view, only recycled by feminists (yeah, our feminists often end up convenient to women owners). The other problem with survivor being used as a default description is of course the sad reality that sometimes they don't survive. They die of injuries or commit suicide or get murdered for silencing or honor. The third problem of course is the sheer inaccuracy of it. Even if we were to understand "survival" as recovery from trauma (as opposed to risk of death), many victims remain traumatized and brutalized by their experiences and don't begin recovery as urgently as mass media would prefer.

Similarly, calling disabled people who travel in compartments for handicapped people "special needs" is a cosmetic makeover that makes no difference to the reality. The same people suffering the same disadvantages travel in the same compartment. And if you tell me there exists a single child in the world whose needs are not special, perhaps you need to respect children more.

There are several things these cosmetic makeovers achieve. The first and biggest is that they give us the power to play God. Here is a problem, you rename it and the problem is gone. Its new name is not a problem.

The other thing is our own lazy insensitivity. If there is no problem, we don't need to go out of our way to do anything for them, right? If she's a survivor, triumphant and all, it doesn't remind us that she may be fragile and need a lot more assistance than is apparent.

But, the hiding of devastating disadvantages can put help out of reach for those affected. Getting out of your seat for a cripple, handicapped, lame, blind person would be manners. For someone with special needs? Nah, sit.  Just attention seeking. They need more than normal. But you are tired too.

I'd rather my child be known as a disabled child than people to think that he just has some special requirements - which someone (the state? - standard fallback) must be providing. Nothing to worry ourselves about in special needs. Besides, what do we know about providing special care?

It is a dehumanized, impersonal way that serves those without disadvantages by removing the obligation to assist the needy that is hardwired into any responsible mind. It is an attempt to sweep ugliness out of sight, even if that whitewash means more difficulties in receiving aid, because the need is rendered invisible.

We pretend that being unable to sit, stand, talk, walk - difficult challenges to overcome - aren't the problem, but the problem is the label - which can be changed easily - that keeps the problems visible and hurting sensibilities.

Those who prefer such euphemisms claim that the dehumanized euphemisms empower the disadvantaged. "A rape victim keeps getting reminded of her trauma" are the actual words by an activist I raised this issue with. Well, a rape survivor also keeps getting reminded of her trauma. The issue isn't with the word victim, but the rape itself - which will take as much time and healing as it does before it stops hurting. If we see the hurt, we can offer solidarity, compassion, our hurt in empathy.

The problem is not with words. Words are mere descriptors. A cripple or a victim or something else. That is the reality of what they go through. The hurt is in the suffering. In discrimination, in lack of respect. Until we learn to love and respect people and be compassionate, we will keep changing labels as older ones become symbolic of our insensitivity and we need newer, kinder ones that further pretend nothing is wrong.

Maybe if we tell ourselves enough, we can just label away all the problems in the world.

Here's George Carlin on a similar subject.

2

This is a response to Vrinda Grovers views on the new rape law as told to Priyadarshini Sen in the article "Look Before You Creep" published in Outlook Magazine.

I want to state upfront that I have a deep respect for Vrinda Grover and her work for human rights, and the article merely shares my view on the subject, which is not necessarily superior to hers, and her knowledge of the law and working with it to ensure human rights most certainly exceeds my own.

I had been bothered by the direction the Delhi Rape case protests were taking when they started demanding for a new law. To me, it seemed the easiest way out of the social slap we had faced, by shrugging off our role and shoving it onto the government's shoulders. The Delhi Gang Rape was illegal under existing laws, including death penalty for rapists when the victim died, and murder got added to the charges.

I understood this to be an unhealthy avoidance of social responsibility and the need to engage in social reform - which is where the problem lies. The idea that a few people can get drunk and think it will be good fun to pick up a girl to rape. The rest went downhill from there, but that is the crux of the issue we see echoed in almost every urban gang rape that involves random pick up of victims. There was an opportunity for discussing the role of alcohol or drugs in lowering inhibitions and making criminals more likely to act on criminal intent than the natural caution of sobriety.

Alcohol lowering inhibitions is a proven fact and alcohol is often a factor in all kinds of violence from brawls and murders to rape and domestic violence. Additionally, alcohol lowers the ability to be aware when an action goes too far. I personally know a woman who masturbated hard enough to injure herself when drunk. Countless cases of financial exploitation and road accidents can be traced to alcohol, yet there is an inexplicable inability to discuss this subject openly and find out what is enjoyment and what poses too much risk to the public at large.

There was potential to discuss how we run our lives when the bus could be traced because of the bribe records of police. The lack of oversight in investigation of people employed in services catering to schools. But all this doesn't sell as well as the idea of rape. Rape tickles the consumer mind. Rape occupies space in TV debates far more than any other crime for the same reason old Hindi films had rape scenes. We may protest all we like, but rape is sex. It is non-consensual sex, activists may protest that it isn't sex at all, but for the mind, the perception is one of sex, and there is immediate interest.

Any discussion about the vulnerability of women who may be leaving themselves open to assault got shouted down as victim blaming. We like our scantily dressed eye candy. Protect them in other ways. Don't make them reluctant to entertain us. No one is disputing that a rapist is wrong, but to peddle tips on smart dressing in one segment of media and say clothes never invite rape is a bit absurd, because there is no explanation on the intervening pages on why a business suit conveys professionalism to all, but bare skin does not convey sexual invitation to all. And if bare skin is not sexual, then why we no longer see shirtless men as decent company?

The dialogue was carefully herded into the TRP maker - SEX (in this case, not consensual and injurious and murderous), while anything that might actually make girls less easy to exploit got ignored or shouted down with some regressive label. One would almost believe that parents who caution daughters to come home on time or wear clothes that cover body are looking to enslave them worse than random strangers who apparently are more interested in their safety and will never harm. What is achieved by isolating women from protective parents in public perception? It makes sense to criticize parents for LIMITING women, but where was any sense of parents as potential support?

That got derailed because to put it bluntly, fighting for women's rights and all was fine, no one wanted to risk criticism of habits and defaults they enjoy.

The law can only punish culprits after a crime. It cannot change what people choose to do.

We got a law that upped the punishment for rape, as well as broadened the definition to rape in a grand promise to more and more people - when the fundamental problem was that people who were raped as per the old definitions and punishments weren't getting justice already in a country with one rape in seven minutes, but not one rape judgment. Worse, our law believes a woman's accusations by default and now we have expanded them to cases that are impossible to prove, because there won't be DNA evidence or injury, and the victim may appear perfectly normal till she files a case two weeks later.

Vrinda Grover says she is not able to understand the anxiety men face.

I’m very puzzled at the high level of anxiety from men in all professions. Is it really that men are doing this so rampantly that they are suddenly in panic mode? That they have been putting their body parts into women without their consent? In that case I have a word of advice to them: now this is the law, don’t do it, and if you do it, you will be arrested. And if the courts deem it fit, you’ll be punished. That’s a hard-won reality. The new law just clarified what consent meant. It said there has to be an unequivocal, voluntary agreement by word or gesture.

Well, consider the roles reversed, and if men were able to claim all sex as consensual and their word were accepted as the truth unless rape could be proved? Proving rape is still possible. How do you prove an absence? How do you prove God doesn't exist, if there being no proof could simply mean that it hadn't been found yet? How do you prove a rape did not happen if all it would mean is that there was no injury or evidence found, but not that you were innocent? Why wouldn't men be anxious? Any sane man should be terrified of these laws. In essence, the law leaves no way for the rape accused to prove himself innocent short of proving that he wasn't at the place at all.

These laws are based on a presumption that women would never lie about being raped. But is it always true? I am not such a legal expert or a major activist, but I know tons of women who are insecure enough to claim that they refused a consensual encounter rather than be seen as someone who indulged in immoral behavior. There are still more women who are modern and do not see rape as their shame, but now have the perfect weapon to attack a man they have an agenda against. Any private time without witnesses or cameras can be claimed as a rape that did not leave any sperm or injury. There are as many women who seek favor from powerful men as there are powerful men exploiting women - particularly in urban society, where a sexually forward woman is no longer a stigma. What is to prevent a woman rebuffed from accusing the man of rape out of malice? Where is the line? An over aggressive lover who mistakes necking for wanting to take things further? And really, can all this be fixed by law?

I am not saying any of this happened in the Tejpal case,, which I believe is too high priority and warped by political agendas to look at to evaluate something like this. I am speaking of a law that is absurd. In pretending to help victims of rape, it has, in effect created so much ambiguity and clutter, that the indisputable rapes and injuries and desperate circumstances now have to share already scarce resources of justice with cases that are suffering from enough ambiguity to turn the whole public view on rape as a fuss made by women.

On the other hand, it is perfectly legal to marry a sixteen year old and rape her every night onwards for the rest of her life.That is how freaking lost our "women's rights" are in terms of gravity of crime and priorities in reform.

I fail to see how this helps women at large.

In our idealistic chase of the perfect laws where the slightest wrongs to women meet perfect justice, we have lost complete touch with an imperfect world still struggling to get justice for ghastly crimes that suffer decades long cases where victims are forced to not forget their ordeal because they could be cross examined or questioned at any point.

Nor is it unclear why a woman grabbing at a man's crotch isn't engaging in rape then. Are we saying that men are always asking for it and women never have sex they regret later? Are we really peddling the view that women never make bad choices on sex that they try to cover up or deny later? Why are we still catering to the "Sati Savitri" image of the woman? Why is this patriarchal, patronizing and insulting view of women being peddled by those fighting for their rights?