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2 States 2 Rapes

February 19, 2017

Two recent rapes have shaken not just my conscience but entire south India.

For one thing we lied to ourselves that we lived in a far more civil society than Delhi and generally than North India.

Jallikattu happened and here we were again beating our own trumpets, singing our own praises as to how safe our women were ,protesting side by side with men, sleeping next to men in absolute safety, which can probably happen only in Tamil Nadu.

But as the protests died down and an other drama for power started rolling in the State Assembly, one gory heart-breaking incident was relegated to insignificance by our national and local tv news channels alike : which was the rape and murder of an angelic 7 year old child Hasini by her Flat neighbour,a young techie, in the outskirts of Chennai. Jashwant, the killer-rapist looks like any casual happy-go-lucky college goer – in fact is the same as my son’s age: 22 years. He even happens to look like a boy who comes home – one of my son’s best friends. I mean, I am incapable of imagining someone of my son’s age with the same kind of comfortable upbringing nurturing this kind of perverse and sick mentality. As a parent, I put myself in the boy’s parents’ shoes. The family seems to have a fairly comfortable life – otherwise Jashwanth would not have been riding his own bike, living in a highrise apartment. So what made the young man commit such a heinous crime.

As for the little girl’s family, I was a bit surprised they left her playing when they (the parents) went shopping. But not rare or strange in apartment life – to leave a kid on his/her own especially in highrises. This one even had a cc tv and security. My sister used to do it all the time when she lived in Mumbai, with her having to raise two small kids. But one day I recall my little nephew who was 4 years then looked disturbed. My sister being a super-alert mom sensed that something was troubling her otherwise buoyant and mischievous little one. When she persistently questioned him, he confided in her how the watchman of the block made him strip his uniform shorts after the school bus dropped him at the gate. The boys would come up to the third floor flat by themselves. Even if the precocious child was only 4 years at that time, he still knew something was not right about the security’s behaviour. Children KNOW. After my sister reported the matter to her Flat committee, the security was removed from service.

But as a parent, I have never left my son alone even for a second in those crucial growing-up years. Whether it was swimming pool or his key board lessons, I would be present and would insist that he stayed in my sight all 24 hours. Sleepover in friends places was permitted after 7th class but with strict regulations. Friends and relatives always asked me why I could not enrol my son in both school and college hostels, but I did not want to. When your teenager knows you will be staying awake even if it is 3 am to open doors for him, he will not come home drunk or smoking. I have seen my boy’s college mates in hostel taking to smoking, the addiction they are already unable to kick off in this young age.

So far as I am concerned, there is no excuse for parents not staying vigil. You have to anticipate the worst and stay prepared to keep your child safe at all times. Being a parent is a 24 hour job. Doesn’t matter if its a boy or girl. My heart goes out to Hasini’s parents. They will never be able to forgive themselves. Who will have the heart to hurt a sweet cherub like Hasini. But had her parents stayed extra-vigilant and cautious, this could not have happened. Do not entrust the safety of your wards into third party hands – including grandparents – if you can help it. Yes, working mothers may sometime face situations where tough decisions and compromises need to be worked out. A grandparent’s role in safeguarding your child’s welfare is limited. You and you alone are responsible for what happens to your kid and what he/she turns out to be in future.

The second case is the alleged abduction and gang rape of actress Bhavna in Kerala just last evening from near Angamali, between Thrissur and Kochi. The vivacious actress is a favourite of mine and my husband. Only last week we were watching a picture of her ‘Jayam Kondan’: she is a thorough natural. Not No.1 but has been a star in both mallu and Tamil films. We were saying, she is very unlucky that she still is not doing many more films as she must be doing.

Bhavna’s car driver Martin has been nabbed but his accomplices are absconding. The actress was travelling in her Audi when she was waylaid in a set-up to trap her. If this can happen to a celebrity like her, who is safe in this country. Bhavna’s case sure looks more like a conspiracy.

It is not that if a woman is in public life, she is like public property. Indian men have got it all wrong. CONSENT. One word that our men just cannot understand. What a physical and mental trauma the actor must be undergoing right now. I hope she gathers enough courage to come out with it in front of her fans and general audience shaming not only the rapists but also their families.

This is what I’ve been thinking.

Why are the cops and media shielding Jashwant’s parents? He must suffer along with his parents when their family photos are splashed in tv and newspapers. They must not get immunity from public outrage and shame for begetting a son like this monster – even if they aren’t to be blamed for his fault.

Bhavna should expose not only her rapists, but also their families. Media must do it. Publish the pictures and details of rapists families. Make it headlines.

My heart goes out to the sweet heroine whose videos were also allegedly shot in the moving car when the crime was being committed. Healing will be a traumatic and long process but I am sure, believing in her confidence levels, Bhavna will beat down the blues and bounce back as the bubbly star that she truly is. Forget it Bhavna, like it was a bad dream.

We all love her for her twinkling naughty eyes and pranks, her trademark character in films.Wishing her peace and happiness. Normally I don’t care much about movie stars. But filmi stars are also human beings. Aren’t they. Somehow the incident has disturbed my mental peace – as much as Hasini’s brutal rape and murder and the Nirbhaya case did. Because even if there could be many, many stars shining out there in the galaxy, you come to like a selective few…

Actors also have a dignity and soul. The way our men perceive them to be is … sad. It is not even the rape, it is the way Bhavna was taken for granted that hurts me.

 

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From → Bharatiya Naari

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