My first post of the New Year is a tribute to the woman in Delhi who died under the most awful circumstances. And also to the women and girls who have been victims to the gang-rape culture that continues in India even while India is under the glaring spotlight of the world.
The double standards and corruption in India are appalling, as they are in most developing nations whose governments fatten themselves whilst their people go without basic care, education or economic prospects.
Add to this the spectre of Bollywood. Cinema is a national pastime in India – families throng to spend a few hours totally absorbed in the drama, music, tears and laughter.
But watch a few Bollywood films and a pattern emerges… scenes of rape/attempted rape/harrassment and the perception that Indian women are helpless and dependent. As sick as it is, there are even compilations on Youtube of “Famous Bollywood Rape Scenes”.
Bollywood gives the impression that Indian women are tragedies and trauma is their destiny.
But they’re not. Without the brainwashing, Indian women are strong and resiliant.
The protests and marches in India and the cancellation of New Year festivities show that India’s Braveheart has left a legacy. If it changes attitudes towards women and helps victims of abuse get the justice they are owed, perhaps her legacy will be as transformative for India as Gandhi’s was.
I frequently get emails from women in India looking for help or simply a non-judgemental ear. They approach me when they need to regain their sense of self and independence. Many of these women were abused as children and are quietly dying in the prisons of their minds, not knowing how to escape walls that can’t physically be broken.
The social stigma of coaching/counselling etc is so entrenched that most use a false name in the beginning and only reveal their real name once I have earned their trust.
They need help. They need ME to help them and they need YOU to help them.
And it’s not just in India. Every country in the world has a percentage of men who continue to ravage women’s lives. Even in so called civilised countries, punishments don’t fit the crime. Rape is as bad as murder but tax evaders get harsher sentences than rapists. What kind of a twisted value is that?
Wouldn’t it be great if 2013 became the year a world with mutually respectful values and priorities was born? We can all have a hand in making that happen.
Wishing you peace and joy for your 2013.
RIP India’s Braveheart.