The mass molestation of women in Bengaluru during the New Year’s eve brought back the barrage of victim bashing pouring in from all quarters and we can also see the political stalwarts trying to catch fish in the murky waters. The trail of victim bashing is long in India and around the world, however, over years it got more institutionalised than what it was ever before.
In a 21st century modern world, the incidents of gender violence are constantly rising and often such incidents are leading to similar kind of stereotyping and victim bashing around the world, which is leading to a greater moral support to the perpetrators. In India, the low rate of prosecution against those accused of gender violence and sexual assault is constantly giving a boost to those men who are carrying out assault on women in larger scales like that of the mass molestation of women in Bengaluru.
When Suzette Jordan, an Anglo-Indian woman, was gang-raped by a group of rich guys by abducting her from Park Street, one of the most posh and happening areas of Kolkata, in 2012, the entire West Bengal government and the brass of the ruling party fired salvo at her, who wouldn’t identify herself as a rape victim but a rape survivor. Sans the Detective Department top cop Damayanti Sen, no one took her seriously. Years later her case got a favourable judgement in the lower court though the main culprit in her case, Kader Khan, until his arrest in September 2016 remained far away from the law machinery, which the critics say is due to his proximity with highly placed people in the ruling party.
Over years Indian society, alike its neighbouring societies, kept blaming the victims of gender violence and oppression for everything that happened. The victims are even blamed till this day when the government is claiming that the country is getting digitally transformed into a modern society. The Brahminical patriarchy that is deeply rooted in the prevalent feudalistic production relations in the countryside of India won’t die due to a digital swing.
Since years Bengaluru remained the digital capital of India and the offshore outsourcing hub for global technological giants, which made the city a magnet for both fresher and seasoned software professionals and the IT geeks. The metropolitan of its type, Bengaluru remained a better destination for the women workforce than capital Delhi or its suburbs, infamous for the most heinous crimes against women.
Every year thousands of people gather at MG Road and Brigade Road to observe the ushering in of the new year and this year too many people, both men and women flocked the place, some were couples, some were with their family members. Suddenly a group of hooligan revellers, mostly high on alcohol, appeared in the cordoned-off place and amidst high police presence they started molesting the women present in the area.
According to the first-hand account by a Bangalore Mirror journalist, there was a mass molestation of women in Bengaluru during the New Year’s eve by a feral crowd of burly men, who groped women and pawed them with malicious intent. The police, according to the witnesses, did nothing to help the women in distress, which forced many women to flee from the spot.
The news of this mass molestation of women in Bengaluru did become a national headline and a viral news, however, rather than questioning the intention of the incapable police force or the culprits, the moral police started spewing venom against the women who were present in the venue. Some male-chauvinist portals even started questioning the authenticity of the whole event.
It all started when the soft-Hindutva peddler Congress Party’s Karnataka Pradesh President and the state’s Home Minister, G Parameshwara, accused the youngsters of following “western ways” that brought such “troubles” like the mass molestation of women in Bengaluru. The Home Minister denied that there were 10,000 policemen out there to maintain law and order on the streets of Bengaluru, rather he claimed that only 1500 policemen could be deployed on the New Year’s eve.
The veteran Congress leader G Parameshwara, while talking to a TV channel, said: “As I said, unfortunately, what is happening is a large number of youngsters gather on days like New Year on Brigade Road, Commercial Street, M G Road. Youngsters who are almost like westerners, they try to copy westerners not only in mindset but even the dressing. So some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kinds of things do happen.”
G Parameshwara’s comment on the mass molestation of women in Bengaluru again manifested the orthodox patriarchal thought process that tempered the Indian politicians of all parliamentary hues. Very soon G Parameshwara found support from the Brahminical supremacist BJP and RSS activists on social media, who started blaming the young women for their dressing style and for their interests in events like New Year’s eve, which for the saffron brigade is a “Western influence” on the pious “Indian culture”.
As soon as most of the social media activists questioned the “modern” and “liberal” woman who loves “independence” and started firing sexual innuendoes at the victims of the mass molestation of women in Bengaluru on the New Year’s eve, the infamous Samajwadi Party leader from Uttar Pradesh, Azam Khan made another start of another year with a very lewd sexist comment.
Azam Khan compared the women with “sugar that attracts ants” and thereby manifested the similarity between the Brahminical male-chauvinism and the Talibani misogynist outlook, both bashing the victims for the sexual crimes committed by criminals.
In condemning the victims rather than the perpetrators of the crime in the case of Bengaluru or during any past event of crime against women, Azam Khan truly showed his strict pursuance of the ideology of Mulayam Singh Yadav, who shamelessly claimed in a public meeting of Samajwadi Party that gang rape isn’t “practical”.
We have seen victim bashing overtaking any serious concern for the crime committed against women in India and providing a moral shield in defence of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. Every time women are assaulted, raped, molested, or murdered, the moral policing of the society under the patronage of the likes of Sheila Dikshit, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Yogi Adityanath, Sakshi Maharaj, G Parameshwara, or Azam Khan will keep the onus on the victims, blaming them for their condition.
In a Brahminical puritanist regime, when the ruling BJP and its paternal organisation RSS always find itself at the barrel’s point of the opposition and the women groups for its regressive outlook on women and gender roles, the mass molestation of women in Bengaluru during the New Year’s eve became a hot cake for the saffron bloc to pursue.
The Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju, didn’t lose the opportunity to slam the Congress-led Karnataka for shaming the victims and gave a lecture on good governance and law and order maintenance to the Siddaramaiah government. However, never before did the MoS for Home Rijiju utter a word against his party’s saffron cloak donned stalwarts who will express their utmost misogynist thoughts on women in public.
Political brick-batting will be going around this incident of mass molestation of women in Bengaluru on the New Year’s eve, but the real issue will not be addressed, neither by the political parties fighting over the leather of seats nor by those fringe women rights groups that deny any link between the misogynist attitude of the Brahminical society and its strong ties with the remnants of the feudal vestige in rural India from where the digital India draws inspiration.
The real issue lies with the predominant feudal patriarchal culture, the Brahminical supremacist doctrine that not only rules the northern hemisphere of the country, but is equally, and to some extent, more powerful in the southern parts that remained a strong citadel against Aryan aggression.
While irrespective of their guiding ideology ruling parties are stooping before the might of foreign monopoly and finance capital flowing into India from all over the world as well as from the off-shore accounts of the Indian crony capitalists, these political parties and their ideological mentors are equally conservative to co-exist with the globalised culture that the new generations of urban, mobile, and elite strata of the society is attempting to embrace, because retaining the regressive feudalistic and Brahminical culture is an essential pre-requisite for these ruling blocs.
It doesn’t matter whether the Congress, the BJP, or the Samajwadi Party rules a province of India because as long as the state embrace the neo-liberal economic policies it will breed more misogynist attitude and help the feudal patriarchal forces to gain more supremacist position in a crooked and deformed capitalist system.
Millions of young boys are taught by their parents, mostly those who are at the highest echelon of the socio-economic order in India, about them being superior in all aspects in comparison to their women counterparts. In a country with more than 34,000 reported cases of assault against women in 2015, this inculcation is a very dangerous trend that not only leads to female foeticide but also to rape, domestic violence against women, sexual harassment at workplace, molestation, and all other forms of gender violence.
In a country with 1 billion people, India must be the safe home for its female population, who owns half the skies. Forget liberation of women from the confinement of patriarchal order, even winning the right to live a life of dignity and get treated equally as a man is not going to materialise in the coming days unless some big and effective steps are taken by conscious forces to break the shackles of sexual and gender violence.
G Parameshwara or Azam Khan are not any isolated instances or people who think exceptionally in a retrogressive manner, the majority of the men in the Indian society are unable to juxtapose women in equal alignment with themselves. The thought will provoke immense hatred for the women due to the insecurity of losing their grip over the society that the men, patronised by feudalism, suffer every day in and out.
For them, a Suzette Jordan is a rebel against their established norms and whichever woman dared to get out of the gender closet the patriarchal social order prepared for it, were punished by gender violence by the same ruling clique. They may wear the attire of a Khap Panchayat in Haryana burning alive women who dared to love outside communal norms or the attire of a corporate tycoon trying to exploit his subordinate woman employee using his position, the misogynist Indian upper-caste men will keep exploiting women taking advantage of the prevalent socio-economic conditions.
The mass molestation of women in Bengaluru during the New Year’s eve will be repeated by the unruly mob of misogynists and male chauvinists who will try to assault women to intimidate them, vilify them, and oppress them sexually and socio-economically as long as possible. It will not take a police action but a strong socio-economic and political movement against the vestiges of feudalistic production relation existing in the countryside. The very production relation that breeds hatred against women, LGBT, Dalits, Tribals, Muslims, and other minority communities.
Though the liberals and the right-wing will vouch for stronger laws to curb the assault on women and will deal it as a serious law and order deviation, the truth is that these sort of gender violence and oppression can’t be stopped by mere enactment of another law. This problem has a deep socio-economic root and until the time it’s uprooted the grotesque figure of male-chauvinism will continue to haunt us and enslave our women.
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