Ashwini, an 18 year old student was publicly attacked outside Meenakshi Engineering College, Chennai where she was reading Commerce, by one Alagesan, and left to bleed to death with a slit throat. This appalling crime is all too reminiscent of the Chennai techie case, where young Swathi, an Infosys employee was hacked to death by her stalker at the Nungambakkam Railway Station in 2016. Further back in time, a couple of decades ago to be precise, Sarika Shah, another Chennai college student lost her life after she was manhandled, and became yet another victim of eve teasing. And these are only the famous cases in one of the relatively safer metros in India that managed to capture the imagination of a fickle public notorious for its collective ADHD syndrome. There are too many women out there whose lives have been snuffed out, and without the faintest hope of justice being served because too few give a crap. After all, isn’t it simpler to blame the victim and declare that she got what she deserved instead of taking the tortuous trail to ensure a perpetrator is apprehended and punished?
The right thing to do as always is ridiculously complicated given that this pestilential problem is very much like the second labour of Hercules. The one where the monster is a Lernean Hydra. Every time, you lop off a head, a dozen more seem to replace it despite valiant efforts. We have tried tying women to the home and hearth, draping them in yards of fabric, imaginative interpretations of chastity belts that have not been limited to female genital mutilation, and brainwashing them into believing they must embrace virtue, virginity, sacrifice and self – denial to protect themselves but all to no avail. The monster continues to prevail and worse, the damn things spew their poison everywhere, damning the living and the dead alike. Be it Ashwini, Swathi, or Sarika, the overriding impulse of the misogynists and masochistic pigs out there has been to frame a narrative where the victim’s character has been besmirched and their killers are depicted as tragic, romantic heroes whose crime de passion has mitigating and extenuating circumstances. Duh! After all there are females involved and aren’t they all flighty, faithless floozies who are good for little more than fornication.
In Ashwini’s case, the moral police/ moronic poltroon brigade have been stressing on the fact that she was in a relationship with Alagesan for two years before choosing to end things. The latter of course, couldn’t believe her temerity in dumping him and has been harassing her ever since. She filed a police complaint when he forcibly tried to tie a ‘thaali’ around her neck and ‘make her his wife’. But of course, the actions of Alagesan are being portrayed as perfectly understandable whereas Ashwini is depicted as the heartless diva who smashed a man’s heart to smithereens.
Which of course begs the essential question – so what? So what if a woman is a whore, a prick tease, a seductress, a temptress, a gold – digger and whatever filthy epithet that is usually hurled at her when she is a victim of rape, abuse or murder? SO WHAT? It still does not give those of the masculine gender the right to kill them or hurt them in any way! (Psst! The law says so, I looked it up.) It is as simple as that and yet too many men have trouble allowing this fact to penetrate their thick skulls. Numbskulls!
The loss of a life, especially when cut down so mercilessly, not surprisingly leads to massive outpouring of outrage and hard as it is to believe, that’s about it. Furious articles are written about the event, twitter and facebook timelines catch fire as arguments and counter arguments heat up. Then, unless Bollywood stars, Cricketers, Politicians and depraved Godmen are involved, the entire thing fizzles out and we all move on. Till the next big crime against women happens and then we all go around the mulberry bush again. Rinse and repeat.
Enough is enough. Let us not take to social media to vent our righteous anger and frustration. Instead it is time to think long and hard about actually making a difference. What we need is not indignant rants but good old fashioned action - CCTV surveillance, better lighting, well trained cops and enforcers to patrol the streets and make sure that it is not so damnably easy for women to be abducted, raped, molested, stripped, set on fire, stabbed to death or have acid thrown on their faces. Equally important, men and women, let us stop exonerating the male of the species of crimes and making ridiculous excuses for them every time they do dastardly things fuelled by ego and rage, while always assuming it is the females who err. Finally, let us resolve to please do whatever it takes to make absolutely certain, that years or decades from now, we are not stuck in a cataclysmic loop, where girls get killed because boys can’t suck it up and take no for an answer.