No country for young women

“We even painted a few autos pink”.

(Note: “auto”, for the uninitiated, is like a small taxi, carries, or is supposed to carry, a maximum of two passengers at a time, and is a popular means of public transportation in most cities. In some countries in the region, variants of the “auto” are called “tuk-tuk”s.)

Silence descended on the group. Surely nothing could beat that.

It was the aftermath of another gruesome incident of rape. This time in a western metropolis. The high-level committee formed to address the issue and implement an action-plan to prevent a recurrence of such incidents was meeting. They had invited their counterparts from the capital, who had recent experience of implementing an action-plan after an even more gruesome incident had taken place there late last year, to participate.

(An earlier post emanating from that incident:

The invited team was sharing their experiences. They had seen how civil society’s collective conscience had finally been jolted into action. Both public and private agencies had left no stone unturned, it seems, in their quest to uplift the lot of women and ensure their safety.

A big company had taken early lead in the drive for emancipation of women by bringing out a women-only washing powder that will wash clothes clean only when used by a woman. It took the market by storm and left competitors wringing their clothes hands in despair.

A Mutual Fund company, boldly going where no man, or woman, had gone before, had launched a financial advisory service only for women, even encouraging them to invest money in their own poorly-performing financial products, for enhancing their feeling of security.

In his usual forthright and meaningless manner, the Finance Minister, joining the fray, had sent out a strong message for the emancipation of women in the country by announcing the launch of a women-only bank.

At each idea that was put forward, there was shock writ large on faces of members of the committee at the severity of measures taken. “No wonder that no further incidents had been reported from the capital. Once you introduce a women-only washing powder, a financial consultancy to advise women to invest in their own schemes and a women-only bank, surely nothing more would need to be done for the emancipation and security of women”, each one thought privately.

The shock turned to total disbelief when they were told that they had not stopped at that. They had even painted a few autos pink! Though they knew that such actions were the need of the hour, they were all silently wondering if they would ever be able to match the boldness of the team from the capital and implement them.

They also realised that the hard work of dreaming up meaningless solutions in the face of a gruesome crime had already been done. They did not have scope to pretend to come up with measures to address the situation in the interest of the people. All they had to do was implement. The reputation and careers they had built over years of trying to solve people’s problems through actions that were bound to fail from the outset, were at stake.

The invited team was justifiably proud of their efforts; in the face of huge odds a number of severe measures had been implemented without causing an iota of discomfort to the male population. They had managed to implement several measures requiring women to change their habits. For their own good, it must be clarified.

Meanwhile, in other normal events around the country:

  • A woman (a foreign tourist) camping in MP, got gangraped by a group of local men while she was camping in a jungle.
  • A woman managed to avoid getting raped in a moving car by jumping out of the car and sustaining grievous injuries in the process.
  • A British tourist (woman, who else!) jumped off a balcony in Agra to avoid getting molested by the owner of the hotel she was staying in.
  • Robbers gangrape a policewoman in Jharkhand. The woman, apparently, was taking her dead younger sister’s body to their hometown for cremation.

In view of several instances of foreign tourists being targeted, the government is considering banning all female tourists from entering the country in order to protect the country’s rich culture and heritage from being sullied by unjustified speculation overseas.

The government is also considering legislation to address the situation. One proposal being considered is to make it mandatory for crimes against women to be committed only by women.

A government spokesman has also said that these incidents should be a lesson for all. Calls from different sections of the population for a statehood here, greater autonomy there, stand exposed as politically motivated machinations of divisive elements. These incidents conclusively prove that be it Mumbai or Delhi, Madhya Pradesh or Agra, Jharkhand or anywhere else, we are united in our thinking and behaviour. We are one country.