The Misogyny of India – A look at the recent Uber Cab Rape Case

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[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”52″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]O[/mks_dropcap]n December 5th, 2014, a 25 year old executive, working for a global company as a financial analyst, was raped by her Uber cab driver. The driver reportedly threatened to kill her if she went to the police, but the woman took a photo of the car’s number plate, and then reported the crime to the authorities.

On 7th December, 2014, the accused cab driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav was caught by a joint team of the Delhi and Mathura police in the city of Mathura where his car was found abandoned a day earlier. The accused was produced in Delhi High Court on 8th December, 2014, where the court sent him to police custody for 3 days.

According to the police reports, the cab driver has shown absolutely no remorse, whatsoever, for his act, and has in fact gone on record to say that he has been extremely libidinous since his school days and that seeing the girl sleeping alone in the backseat late at night was too much of a temptation for him to resist and so he took the car to a deserted spot and then raped her. Another scandalous statement made by the taxi driver was that the girl fell asleep in the back of a car late at night, and hence was in a way asking for it, since otherwise she would’ve stayed awake and alert. These statements are evident enough of the perverted mind of the accused.

Although Uber claimed that it had employed Shiv Kumar based on his “Character Certificate” “issued” by police, police stated that the certificate was “fake” and lodged forgery case against the cab driver. An FIR was registered against Uber for cheating its customers and violating lawful orders of government. The FIR was lodged under Section 420 and 188 read with 34 of the IPC. The international cab booking company was banned in Delhi, and faced a similar fate in the nine other cities in India including Mumbai.

According to police, the accused, Shiv Kumar Yadav was claiming it was a “consensual” encounter for which he had agreed to pay the Delhi woman the Rs. 20,000 she allegedly demanded. “He claimed that after consensual sex, the woman demanded Rs. 50,000 and when he refused to pay up, she threatened to go to the police,” an investigating officer said.

Another year, another rape. Are we becoming numb or is there simply nothing we can do?

December 16, 2012 was a black mark on the history of India. It was a slap on the face of all those politicians and bureaucrats who have been making tall claims about how they have made India safer for women, and how no girl in India needs to fear for her safety. The gruesome rape attack shook the collective conscience of the entire nation and jolted the citizens as well as the government into action. The trial was speedily proceeded with and strict punishment was meted out. In the wake of this ‘Nirbhaya’ rape case, people took to the streets, organising mass protests, and to assuage these people a new and improved, stricter and gender neutral rape law was passed in India.

Soon after the protests died down, people returned to their lives; and this topic was forgotten. Then came a string of reports about vicious rape attacks on girls as young as 5 years to as old as 65 years. Once more the people were up in arms, and again the cities were flooded with candle marches and mass protests. The politicians and celebrities again started the whole tirade of considering the problem seriously and fighting it with all their might which again appeased the people who went back to their daily routine without anything substantial coming out of the whole exercise, apart from empty promises which came in abundance.

The cycle continues and, now two years after the gruesome incident; we still have cases such as the Uber cab rape case being reported, with their victims languishing in anonymity due to fear of ignominy if they reveal themselves as rape victims.

The question that now comes to the fore is: ‘WHAT DO WE DO?’ The solution, unfortunately, is not making noise, or protests, or candle marches in intermittent periods o,r on hearing about certain instances. It is not that such measures do not do any good, but they majorly only help in bringing that particular case to justice, and not the broader problem of rapes in India as a whole. The solution is to take up the cause and stick to it till something substantial is done to curb it.

There is no doubt in the fact that India is a patriarchal society. The rural India still considers their daughters as burden, and that their sole purpose in life is to get married, bear children, and lead a life subservient to that of her husband. Women still do not eat food before they have fed the men of the house. A wife still requests permission from her husband for a lot of things, and a free-thinking woman is termed as a girl of questionable morality. It is this thinking that needs to be changed right from childhood. The children right from the beginning should be taught that the women are at par with the men in all respects, and need to be treated as more than just mere chattel of their fathers and husbands.

The following is an excerpt taken from an article that was published in the New York Times in the aftermath of the Delhi Nirbhaya Rape Case, and beautifully encapsulate the mentality of the Indian society towards the rape victims –

Mr. Yadav was at his barber’s and they were discussing the recent rape case that had shocked Delhi and how it could only have been the girl’s fault since she was out late at night with a boy, and hence was definitely a girl of questionable moral character. Mr. Yadav was talking about removing his daughter from school, when a male passer-by, wearing a sweater inscribed with the words “two plus three equals five,” burst forth, exclaiming: “That is not right!”

But Mr. Yadav barrelled on. What really happens, he said, is that women trade sex for money to acquire nice clothes. When their mothers find out and confront them, they call what happened rape, to protect their honour.

“If the parents have only 10 rupees and your daughter is wearing 100-rupee clothes. Where is she getting those clothes?” Many of the men nodded. He wasn’t alone in assuming that most women are a couple of coveted outfits away from prostitution.

The man in the mathematical sweater was persuaded. “Who am I to judge?” he said now. He who had stood up for women just as quickly stood down.

What the above excerpt reveals is that first of all there aren’t enough people to begin with who feel that rape is not the fault of the victim. They are unable to accept the fact that rape is not the doing of the victim but that of the perpetrator. Then there are those people who do stand up for women in a sudden burst of anger, but are equally quickly bogged down or overpowered by people of the first category. The mentality of the society as a whole, and their way of looking and their way of looking at the crime and the victim makes a world of a difference. As long as we keep looking at rapes and sexual assaults as faults of the victim, we will never be able to understand their plight or truly help them. Blaming the victim is like giving a free pass to the perpetrators to commit as nay times the offence as they want and then getting away with it by blaming the victim.

It is for a paradigm shift to take place in the mindset of the people and we all need to be united in this fight against the misogynistic orthodox Indian society and to usher in a new era of gender tolerance and women empowerment.

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