In the wake of the recent 'train mishap', Remitha Satheesh feels that it is high time we, as a society, shed our nonchalance and rose to the occasion as human beings.
On Feb 11, 2011


Public memory is very short lived, especially with regard to the tragic. It is probably a survival instinct, or escapism, but a lot of times, we choose to push to the very back of our minds that which is unpleasant. It has been just close to a week and already she is beginning to fade from our collective memories. The 24/7 infotainment blitzkrieg is bombarding us with a host of newer images that are pushing out the tragic images that filled our minds last week - that of a young girl at the threshold of life, who died a horrible death, thanks to the lust of a brute.

We will forget her too, just like the hundreds we have forgotten. Forgotten either because of our shameful cowardice to stand up to the injustice and evil we see around us, or because of our appalling selfishness that curbs any scrap of humanity we might still have left in our psyches. Or maybe it’s just the depths to which we have morally sunk. Yes, we will forget Sowmya too, the victim of the train ‘mishap’. That is how desensitized to violence and depravation we have become.

While pockets of protests and demands for providing better security to women are going on, and blogospheres and cyberspaces are overflowing with tearful outpourings in her memory, some authorities have the nerve to say that women themselves are responsible for unsocial elements entering ladies compartments in trains and for the unfortunate incidents that ensue.

Yeah right! Next they are going to come up with the theory that Sowmya was probably asking for it. Isn’t that how a lot of rapes are justified? That it is the provocative behaviour or dress of the woman that is responsible for these crimes. So, are they telling us that the human male is such an untamed beast that millennia of evolution and the refinement of civilization cannot curb his basic instincts?

Govindachamy, the rapist murderer, has been caught. But for every Govindachamy that is caught, a thousand roam free both in lofty mansions and derelict shacks. And thousands of Sowmyas die in intolerable agony or suffer in their own private hells. Today, Sowmya stands representing every woman who went through this violation. And we, as a society, as a whole, are responsible for the violation - every one of us; not just the Railways, or the guard who failed to respond immediately despite seeing someone fall off the train, or the people who did not respond to her cries for help or chose to ignore the nagging feeling that something was wrong.

Maybe if someone had gone to investigate, maybe if someone had been ‘MAN enough’ (I use the expression loosely) to stand up to some brute, several Sowmyas might have escaped the horrible fate. Instead, we chose to stand by as eunuchs.

And when the culprit is caught, much as we would all agree that he deserves a ‘Bobbit’, the law unfortunately does not seem to think so. In fact it is the victim of rape who is made to suffer.

There is a rape after the rape when she is made to undergo the ignominy of forensic tests, narrating the incident, and answering questions, not to speak of the stigma that society plants on her for life. How many of us are naive enough to believe that these issues are handled with sensitivity? So is it any wonder that most rape cases are hushed up?
While some countries do punish rape with castration and some others offer the rapist the option of choosing between a longer prison sentence and castration, India is unfortunately not one of them. In the event that the rapist is convicted, he is just made to serve a prison term. Not punishment enough, as any woman and most men would agree. There are those who advocate the use of capital punishment for rapists. And there are also bleeding hearts and human rights activists who will get them off the hook on grounds of mental instability or human rights issues, and campaign for the rehabilitation of the criminal. I wonder if they would consider ‘rehabilitating’ the rapist in their own homes.

No woman is safe anywhere, not even in her own home. And the depraved monsters, out to prey on the female body, do not discriminate between a five year old kid, her 30 year old mother, or her 60 year old grandmother. And there is absolutely no point in running to the government or the police or anyone in power asking them to protect you. We all know how well the establishment can be depended upon to offer protection. We also know that our society which is otherwise quick to switch into ‘moral police’ mode turns the other way at the first sign of trouble.

Public protests, memorandums and heavy rhetoric might all serve their purpose… or not. The daily reports of ‘sthree peedanam’ have probably become ‘titillating read of the day’ for many or merely grist for the mimicry artists’ mill. So stop depending on others, especially a society that cares two hoots about you.

As today’s woman, you are no longer confined and sheltered at home. You are out there as an essential part of the work force taking the nation forward, and in your line of duty, you often have to travel alone or work late into the night. How safe do you feel? Your body is sacred and nobody has the right to touch you without your consent. It is high time women stood up for themselves instead of feigning weakness and looking to men to protect them.

Women might be called the weaker sex. True, they might be weak physically. When it comes to raw, brute strength, they might be no match for the male of the species. But there is a deep core of strength within every woman. Do not underestimate the power of that strength. Draw on it and take your defense into your own hands. Learn to protect yourself. While travelling alone, carry something to protect yourself. For the creep in a bus or theater looking for a cheap grope, a safety pin is good enough, for worse cases, use a pepper spray. Take that course in martial arts. Know where it hurts a man the most and learn to aim for it. Of course, none of these can work when you get pushed out of a train or bludgeoned to near death or be attacked by a rabid gang.

That is when I hope, we as a society will finally shed our nonchalance and rise to the occasion as
human beings.

This tragedy was a wake-up call …

Remitha Sateesh, Kochu Varthamanam,
Remitha Satheesh
A home maker living the 'easy life' in the US, juggling her time cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring and playing maid. In between, she nurses fanciful delusions of being the next JKRowling and tries to 'write'.

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Strongly written, and the anger comes through (righly so) whether you meant it that way or not. It is so thoroughly discouraging and near depressing to see what goes on in 100% literate, "God's own country" now, but it is evident that the basic civilized 'human-ness' that I saw growing up there is now a relic. When I went to college around a quarter century ago, even 'comment adikkal' on the nearest good looking girl was considered to be a big thing, I guess we have 'progressed' in life! What Kerala needs is a social transformation, and it is such a paradox that even with a large and influential group of NRKs (who have arguably seen and imbibed a more civlized way), high standards of education and exposure, that is not happening. I think we need a "Twitter Age" Sri Narayana Guru!
Ajith, on Feb 11, 2011 11:28:06 PM
And read in the papers that she was on her way home for her own engagement. the family was preparing for the function. Could it be worse? The guy may get off for being handicapped :-|
Beethoven, on Feb 11, 2011 11:36:08 PM
Strongly written. And I can't agree more on your observation about how she might have been a victim of another "rape after rape" had she lived. Also, I agree with you on how our society might shamelessly say that it was eventually her fault that she traveled alone, or that she dressed provocatively, or things like that. I can easily picture the scene of one of our grand old ladies sitting and saying, "nangadeyokke kalathu penungal adangi othungiya jeevichirunathu. Ithu innathe kalathe pen kuttikalude ahangarathinte bhalama. Ini enthengilum paranjittu karyamundo?". Hell with our culture, hell with our traditional values, hell with moral codes... When our own sisters are dying out in the streets, I wonder how we could all sit together, pretend that everything's right with the world and that the only fault is the attitudes of the newer generation!
Ekanthapadhikan, on Feb 12, 2011 08:52:36 AM
very gud one & correctly written. dont know when the society stands up to it. here all busy in their own world. dont want to interfere in anything. they r ready only for strikes & harthal
Raji, on Feb 12, 2011 10:02:40 AM
Yes, the apathy is horrible. I can understand the " time to kill" anguish too well. The world is increasing becoming an unsafe place for all and more so for women. Well-written Remitha. I remember reading a mother's advice to her daughter, " All men are bummers,so take care'.
PK Madhavan, on Feb 12, 2011 03:57:40 PM
Well written.. and it takes away at least a bit of the anguish that some of us continue to have.. Have travelled alone in trains and buses in yesteryears across Kerala and even to the next state.. Had my share of woes in buses but the trains were safe, one thought. but today I am sad to say that I am less confident to do so and would be reluctant and even fearful to let our daughter do so. Call me a coward or whatever.. but this is the feeling. Yet it has to change but how?
Happy Kitten, on Feb 13, 2011 01:03:15 PM
Yes there is definitely a deep core of strength within have presented it well Remitha, each and every line! Lets hope that somewhere the "aadaminde variyellu" species finds out the inner strength and learns to fight back.
Shivaja, on Feb 13, 2011 01:08:15 PM
I have always believed that WOMAN = WOMB + MAN...hence a WOMAN is a MAN with a WOMB....i think this is from the pen of THE ORACLE OF ORGASM....SHRI SHRI RAJNESH, also loved by all as ZORBA THE BUDDHA....... Woman have in it to outclass MEN at any point of time and I wonder why they never achieve it. A mother who carries her fruit in her womb and nurtures the baby till birth displays enormous courage and will....and look at the way they upbring their tinytots with a will of velvety steel. I have seen tribal gals openly molested in Surat Railway station and onlookers ( including me ) unable to even lift a tiny finger... Jayalalitha and Mayawati have given women a sense of triumphalism....let's hope and pray that in our very own time the equation changes.
Periya Karrupu Naadaan, on Feb 15, 2011 11:36:48 PM
Ajith, Beethoven, Ekanthapathikan, Raji, Madhavan, HK, Shivaja, PKN... appreciate your comments and hear the concern in your voices... yes, there was a lot of anger when i wrote this. let's hope someday the society will get rid of its apathy and develops a better attitude!
Remitha Satheesh, on Feb 19, 2011 07:50:42 AM
... and that we women finally discover our inner strength!
Remitha Satheesh, on Feb 19, 2011 07:52:28 AM
very true, every time my daughter steps out, i feel like sitting on a time bomb, till she comes back
DJ, on Feb 19, 2011 12:08:46 PM
sadly true---very well written...hope
Shaji, on Nov 12, 2011 01:46:28 PM
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