Tag Archive | Delhi

Tyger, Tyger, Burning Bright

tigers

Stop Blaming The Tiger.   Today, a man was mauled to death by a tiger in Delhi Zoo. Any loss of life is sad, and so it was in this case.

But the current blame game that is ongoing within and outside the media conveniently overlooks the most important being in this case – the tiger, for whom one must feel nothing but pity.

The Bengal Tiger (panthera tigris) is one of the world’s most endangered species. There are currently fewer than 2,500 of them worldwide. They have officially been classified as endangered by the IUCN, but are still hunted by poachers worldwide for their ‘exotic skin’, among other things.

Found primarily in the Bengal region, the tiger is the national animal of both countries in that region – India and Bangladesh. Shamefully, there have only been sporadic forces of activism to protect this beautiful animal, which continues to be killed by unaware villagers, townsmen, poachers. All from the same species of animal – homo sapiens. 

Homo sapiens, which are apparently the only species capable of having governments, laws, upholders of these laws, compassion and empathy, choose seemingly to exercise absolutely none of these even though heart-rending stories of animals being killed are aplenty. Snared in wire traps. Poisoned. Hunted in cold blood for their hides, for the use of their bones in traditional Oriental medicine. A quick read of the stories on tiger poaching is enough to break even the stoniest heart.

Although carnivorous, tigers are not known to be man-eaters, instead preferring to prey on herbivores within their ecosystems, such as several subspecies of deer and buffalo. It is very rare for a tiger to be a man-eater, a fact endorsed by renowned naturalist and famed protector of the Bengal tiger, Jim Corbett.

The more one reads about this incident, the less one is inclined to blame the tiger.

Taken out of its natural habitat, the tiger is in a small enclosure not even a tenth of the size of the forest it is used to. While the enclosure may seem ‘large’ to the human eye and human standards, it truly is not. Second, it is simply not the tiger’s natural habitat, and it is unlikely the tiger will feel particularly comfortable or at home there. Zoos are a concept that I completely abhor; putting live animals that cannot resist and do not know any better on display for human pleasure is sadistic, cruel and entirely unnecessary.

In this still-slightly-unfamiliar environment, the tiger is put on display, for people to watch, ogle at, laugh, scream, yell and seemingly attract attention. Reduced to a circus show (which, in my opinion, should also be entirely outlawed. At the very least the use of animals in circus acts should be completely banned) with spectators watching it go about its life. A Truman Show for the poor animal.

Indian public etiquette is nonexistent, to put it mildly, be it at a swimming pool, a railway station, an airport, a government office, a restaurant, anywhere. [An article on this is currently in the works.]

The same goes for zoos. Honestly, as abhorrent as public etiquette is, I would much rather humans inconvenienced each other than hurt an animal, something that makes my blood boil. People throw stones, pebbles, food, popcorn, the works at poor, confused animals in spite of signs in multiple languages telling them expressly NOT TO DO SO. But who cares about instructions?

And so cue our strapping young man, king of the creatures, selfie-clicking enthusiast, who attempts to climb the barricade to the tiger’s limited area. Hoping to get its attention, he walks towards a tiger that is at a fair distance, 500-600 metres away, shouting to attract its attention.

The tiger comes towards our selfie young man, our social media maven, who by now has realised entering the tiger’s area was not a smart idea. Cue Darwin award, please.

Ill-informed ‘spectators’ begin to throw stones at an already scared tiger who perceives this man as a threat to his territory. Territorialism is animal instinct (unfortunately, humans do it too, for reasons that are not instinctual, sadly), and I assure you a pet dog would do exactly the same were its territory threatened. Many pet dogs are quite capable of mauling a person to death as well.

Now scared and confused, the tiger attacks the man in its enclosure, mauling it to death. To the tiger’s mind, it has eliminated the threat to its territory – it did not eat, prey on, or generally ‘use’ the human that entered its enclosure for anything; it merely eliminated the threat it felt, a natural animal instinct. I also assure you if you were to barge into my home and throw stones at me, or threaten me or my family in any way, I would attack you too.

In the blame game, eyewitness dramatisations have tried to blame tiger and zoo. While the tiger could have been better cared for, the fact remains it was IN A ZOO. OUT of its natural habitat. Not protected, as it would be with its pack, but alone, in a physically limited area, threatened by a human looking to encroach upon what it knows as its own ‘home’.

In his quest to click a picture, this man went TO the tiger, attempting to attract its attention – surprisingly, neither common sense nor the human instinct for self-preservation seems to have worked for him.

At that point, it is unfair to blame either zoo authorities or animal for someone intentionally needling an animal, needlessly provoking it, turning it into a spectacle for human entertainment in a tiny space.

While sorry for the loss of life, I find that I feel sympathy for the poor tiger, rather than the man who lost his life. I wish painful deaths to those who poach. If you willingly hunt an animal in its own natural habitat, ousting it from its home, killing it in cold blood and with the utmost cruelty for money and perverse pleasure, an animal that neither knows nor understands humanity, you are a disgusting blot on the human race, which, by the way it has been acting recently, has not been all that great to itself.

These creatures may be large, they may be equipped to protect themselves. But against the awful weaponry and ammunition the human race has designed and continues to use with reckless abandon, these animals are well and truly defenceless (when the men throw down their spears).

A strong advocate of national parks and sanctuaries, I believe entirely that animals should be protected in their natural habitats. 

For this, we also need to look at our green laws. Large sections of forest have been continuously razed, displacing entire biomes and ecosystems, and every last bit of flora and fauna. Forest and wildlife protection are an absolute need of the hour, and I hope the new government makes note of these facts. An open request to the new administration: please look into the existing wildlife protection laws. Please help enact new laws to protect our natural wealth.

In the quest for financial and infrastructural development and national monetary wealth, let us not forget the abundant natural wealth that we need to preserve, to foster, to nurture, to protect from man, from ourselves. In a race to build factories, economies, in the rush to lead the pack of nations hunting to be economic superpowers, let us remember to protect the animals that cannot protect themselves anymore.

Large wildlife belongs in its natural habitat – in which case stringent measures need be taken to actually protect these beautiful creatures from the species from which they suffer the most significant harm.

Us.

Homo Sapiens may not be such a wise man after all.

One Down: First Woman.

cw3

If only it were just a crossword clue anymore.

‘Eve-teasing’. An all-too-popular pastime in this wonderful country we call home. It isn’t even English, really, but an Indianism, ifyou will, much like ‘prepone’, ‘reply back’, ‘do the needful’ and our Indian version of ‘propose’, which doesn’t mean what it means everywhere else.

It is commonly defined as men ogling at women on the street, whistling, singing songs, basically boorish men behaving like they own a woman they see. Or at least that is how it starts off, with men at street corners singing the cheapest Bollywood songs they can think of, with the most crass lyrics imaginable (and my goodness me, our lyric writers give them so much to choose from it’s like listening to an even less melodious version of the radio).  There are catcalls, whistles, remarks like ‘item’ and ‘wah’, and then there’s outright groping.

I have been fortunate enough not to ever have been groped or had anyone attempt to do so, but for your average Indian woman, tapori ‘seeti’ and catcalls have become a way of life, something that’s in the background, like annoying white noise you cannot get rid of.

As we all are FULLY aware, rape has nothing to do with sex, or titillation, or whether my clothes are too tight or too short or too something-or-the-other.  It’s to do with a moron (or an entirely stupid, backwards society) SO steeped in patriarchy that he is convinced he absolutely must show his masculinity, or as they like to say here, ‘mardaangi’. What better way to show you are a MAN than by subjugating a woman, no? Of course! What better way to subjugate a woman than to violate her?

Of course, with this comes the wonderful label of a woman’s ‘modesty’. My sexuality. My ‘modesty’. Her modesty was violated. The farmer committed suicide because his daughter’s modesty was outraged. Modesty in India is a wonderful umbrella term that covers virginity (only for a woman, though, let it be remembered), female sexuality, anything that could possibly even indicate that the woman has her own independent thought processes, makes, nay, even wants to make her own decisions – and god forbid they are sex-related – or just wants to be considered a human being like any other, and the way to show what I shall subsequently call ‘penis-power’, you grab this ‘modesty’.

Recently, an acquaintance of mine I met through mutual friends when I studied abroad, and a Facebook friend, did this, and it was amazing.

He was crossing the street in Bangalore with two female friends, when two uncouth hooligans on a bike began to ‘eve-tease’ them. Akshay Kingar, instead of bowing his head and walking on like most of us (myself included) do, he took a photograph of them and posted it to the internet.  Our two lovely idiots may not have been aware of the power of social media when they so wonderfully flipped Akshay the bird. They’re likely more than aware now.

In addition to garnering immense Internet traffic, the post was brought to the attention of the Bengaluru Police. Members of Parliament, news channels, publicists and even average Joes working in the field of the media latched onto the story and brought it to the attention of the entire country.
Those two upstanding pillars of modern society have, I hear, since been arrested by the Bengaluru police.

Unfortunately, there are many like them that roam the streets unfettered, feckless pieces of filth that live with no fear of the law (which, of course, inspires no fear in anybody because it might as well not exist), and only two days ago, in spite of ALL the lip-service the public received post Nirbhaya, THIS was a headline: “Woman gang-raped on bus in Indore”.

Clearly a LOT has changed since Nirbhaya, then.

Lip service, lip service, and more lip service. Changing the law may be one thing, but changing people’s mindsets is another.
A wonderful guy left this nugget of wisdom on the photo Akshay shared on Facebook [and I've left his name in because he deserves to be shamed publicly in every way possible].

Venu Krish Reddy first over girls must wre the proper dress’s den y the hell da guys ll teas them, so guys plz think of t also k..,”

That comment was ‘liked’ by 3 different people, one of them, sadly, a woman.

In our country, it doesn’t really take much for something to escalate into violence. It could start off as vile jeering and creepy leers, but with no legal regulation, anybody can pick up a bottleful of acid at a corner store for a nominal amount, and, should his lecherous advances be spurned, use this to prove his might. (I am penis, hear me roar?)

Everybody now, Delhi police included, seems to be telling women how to ‘take precautions’ so that they are not attacked. That in itself is ridiculous, in that the police is obligated to make people abide by the law, the same law that should punish them if they do NOT. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works here.

No, instead of that, let’s tell women what ‘modesty’ is. Modesty is not showing your shoulders/arms/legs/cleavage/neck/ANY skin whatsoever, because otherwise you’re just asking to be raped. How DARE you show skin? And if you do, how do you expect the man to control his sexual urges?? Poor diddums!

Then, we shall make ‘historical’ reference points to outline what exactly we define as modesty. Draupadi, Sita, Parvati, Sati, whatever mythological woman was the most subservient is automatically the most modest.

Indian men (and again, I do not mean educated Indian men – I mean the ones who lean on their bicycles/motorcycles by the side of the street, wearing their ‘Dabang’ glasses, thinking they have all the swagger in the world) seem to consider ogling a birthright, something that they just do. Then you have this man proving it’s not just your average cheapo who does it. And he’s wonderfully shameless about it, too.

Tie this in with our leftover white supremacist ideals and our obsession with whiteness in general, which have seeped so far into the cracks of our broken society that they have become part of its very foundation (and are proved, time and time again, by the staggering sales of fairness creams and bleach, or even the sheer volume of advertisements you see about them on the television), and you get an increasing spate of crimes against foreign tourists, who from what I gather are looked upon as ‘itummm’. While I was writing the article, this happened and it is terrifying. I think I might have done much the same.

Victim-blaming is a lovely, lovely pastime of (in increasing order of the gravity of how stupid this is) the people, the law and the upholders of the law.  First you have idiots like Mr. Venu on Facebook, blaming the girls and asking them to ‘look at what dress ur wearin’, an idiot I saw on the Times of India comment board implying Nirbhaya deserved to be raped because ‘what did she expect travelling so late wid boyfrnd’, the Swiss tourists who were told by Madhya Pradesh police ‘not to be wandering around so late’, and the Suryanelli rape case, where her tormentors, among them Rajya Sabha MP P.J Kurien, said she was ‘of age’ and the sex was consensual. In addition, THIS:

The Court order described the alleged rapes as a “willing journey of a misguided girl”, and claimed that the male accused were “guilty only of the immorality of going to a woman, who they thought was a prostitute.

Of course, this is entirely logical, because if she’s a prostitute, it’s totally okay to rape her, right? It’s not like she is providing business that SHE should conduct at her OWN discretion, right? (However, considering the level to which trafficking goes on in this country, this is an article I would like to save for later.)

The JUDGE in that case, a man named Mr. R. Basant had  said “The girl is not normal, she is deviant. All these are there in the judgment”.

First off – even if she was a prostitute (which I sincerely doubt), that gives nobody the right to rape.

Second, considering legalese is supposed to be extremely accurate, with no room for any ambiguity whatsoever, I wonder if there is any way for Judge Basant to explain the word ‘deviant’. Perhaps he means what the collective Indian male I mentioned earlier believes. ‘Immodest’.

There can be all sorts of banter about laws being changed, anti-rape law this, anti-rape law that, anti-rape anything. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to this. We have to, as a society, bring up men that do not think of themselves as a superior being or species, but just a homo sapien that happens to have a penis. It is a fleshy, vascular appendage. Not a Golden Excalibur between your legs that you draw out to proclaim your kingship.

We need to stop calling the cheap morons by the street Roadside Romeos, although I quite approve of the name if it involves them ingesting poison of some sort.

Dear 19-year-old guy at my gym, this means that when you ask my friend “Why do you cook your own dinner, aren’t you married? Doesn’t your wife cook for you?”, or “You change your daughter’s diapers??”,  you are part of the problem. The very, very big problem. The law may precipitate the problem, but the problem is your mindset, and that of a billion others, not all of them men.  The problem is that these people need to be taught something that most of the civilised world has been aware of for a long, long, long time.

Gender equality.

New Delhi, Rape Central

New Delhi, Rape by Anu

It’s something I’ve said before, and it’s something I will say again. New Delhi needs to be rechristened Rape Delhi or something to that effect. In Uganda, rape is a war crime. In New Delhi, I wonder if it is even a crime anymore.  If you’re Indian/living in India, sipping your morning coffee and reading the paper, and you see ‘Rape in New Delhi’, more than likely you will be angry but not particularly surprised.  Saying somebody was raped in New Delhi is like saying it snowed in the Arctic.  It’s something that never goes away.  It isn’t just the rape capital of India, it might as well be the rape capital of the world.

India is still, sadly, largely patriarchal.  We’re at the end of 2012 and still attempting to break stereotypes that belonged in the Middle Ages, that everywhere else in the world disappeared at the turn of, I don’t know, the 19th century. And we’re not even doing a very good job.  Browse any online newspaper and the comment boards will be chock-full of misogynistic rubbish that somehow blame the victim, for reasons made up by the commenters, reasons that make rational sense to them and them alone. Reasons like, the rapist ‘lost control’, the girl was ‘skimpily dressed’, or a lot of other comments that somehow imply the victim had it coming. The kind of comments that make you want to throw these morons against a wall and beat the living daylights out of them. (And I’m not even a violent person.)

For those of you who are as yet unfamiliar with what happened – a 23- year old girl caught a Dwarka-Delhi bus with a friend after watching a film. The people on that bus beat her up, gangraped her in the bus driver’s cabin, nearly pulverised her, then her friend for attempting to protect her, and then threw the girl out of the moving bus.  In spite of the fact that the bus passed FIVE police checkpoints, nobody stopped it or even bothered to look.

It’s something that sends chills down your spine wherever in the world you are, chills and utter shame when it happens in your own backyard.

I’ve written time and time and time again about my absolute lack of faith in the Indian judicial system in general, and that continues. But New Delhi/NCR policemen are a whole new level of foul, disgusting, bottom-feeding dirt that do not even deserve to live, let alone have any power.

If a girl is raped, their first thought is not, oddly, “How do we catch these men and what do we do to them?” It is “What was the time when the girl was raped?” If it was nighttime, that is their rationale for justifying said rape, because ‘what is a woman doing out so late at night?’.    “What was she wearing?” Because if she was skimpily dressed, of course she’s to blame, she might as well be holding a sign that says ‘do me now, I want you inside me,  violate me completely’.  Or that it ‘was consensual, but these guys just get violent halfway through so the girls call it rape’.  Because that’s completely logical, obviously.

For other reasons our cops and politicians think rapes happen, click here.

It’s not just them though, lots of people somehow seem to think if a woman dresses as she wishes, drinks, parties, or basically has any will of her own, she is a ‘loose’ ‘slut’, and I don’t know what either of those two terms mean. Basically, according to them, said woman is trying to be a man, which is unacceptable, women to them are supposed to be beings that are there to stay around till you feel like marrying one, then mop your floors and make you food and tea, show off to your wife, and put your penis in as and when you feel like, following which, if and only if you deign to choose, she will carry your seed, which is hopefully a male. (This is exactly how the brain of your average misogynistic MCP Indian man functions.)  Women are not meant to be just regular human beings with different genitalia from men, they are not supposed to have their own desires, wants and needs, unless aforementioned needs include ‘staying a virgin for marriage’, ‘looking for a boy’, and, oh, ‘marriage’. And whatever they think marriage entails, which they think, for the most part, is access to sex as and when you want it.

Why am I talking about these people? Because it is precisely this sort of mindset that gives rise to hordes of utter idiots who do not respect women, or even other human beings, which is another thing New Delhi is notorious for (like this guy, who shot a toll booth attendant because he didn’t want to pay).

The moment you believe men are the only acceptable species of human, the species that should hold power, and women are not homo sapiens, but just some sort of instrument that is there , you have morons like these. This sort of backward ideal of the woman being unequal, a sad little being that depends on a man for everything, including to give her life meaning, (which of course it has none of otherwise),  is not something I see changing any time soon, simply because there are both women and men out there who believe in it and are watching it propagated through pathetic TV shows that are on Indian television all the livelong day. [An aside: One of said TV shows includes, to my knowledge, a woman whose husband cheated on her, left her for another woman whom he later married, and she still keeps a photograph of him on the mantelpiece and gazes at it lovingly. (Saw all that in a promo.)]

That, to me, is one of the root causes of stuff like this. The simple fact that we’re not moving forward from patriarchy, misogyny, from the idea that the man (and not man, but the homo sapien with a penis and testicles) is an ultimate being and all else is his kingdom to do with as he pleases. Instead of TV shows (which are a prime way of reaching out to the bulk of our population across every socio-economic level, because watching TV is something everybody does) that are about women being married off, looking for a husband, looking for marriage, and only that sort of thing, maybe there could be shows about women looking for careers, looking to make their own choices, doing something with their lives.  Sadly, as I type this, I see a promo for a new show about a girl looking to have a “Karan Johar-style ‘sasural'” to marry into. It cuts to a shot of the girl serving a boyand his family tea, and the boy then saying “Oh, nothing beats mum’s tea”.  Incidentally, the girl in said promo looks to be about 15, 16 years old at the time of her pining for a ‘fancy sasural’.

I have made no secret of my absolute hatred towards arranged marriage, which is a term that makes me go into Hulk Smash mode. Really. It brings up bile and vomit and possibly stomach acid, because the ideas behind it are disgusting and outdated. I have also written about my feelings regarding arranged marriage at length before. That ad highlights a few of these reasons. The whole idea of marrying not a person, but a family. The idea that you need marriage to be a ‘complete person’, whatever the hell that is. The idea that you have to serve someone tea (if you want tea, you better get it yourself), the idea that a girl must serve tea to a groom-to-be, and the idiot groom, whose mother’s apron strings might as well be his damn umbilical cord, has to comment.

Nearly EVERY socio-economic stratum and sector in Indian society has access to television. And not just television – satellite television.  How do I know this? Drive past a chawl (for non-Indian readers, that’s an Indian ghetto), slum, makeshift set of homes, even a construction labourer’s tinfoil-and-asbestos home and you will find a satellite dish hoisted atop it.

Clearly, we have data that will prove how much of our population has access to TV. More people nationwide have access to (and by access, I also imply an understanding of) television, more so than newspapers because a large chunk of our population is also completely illiterate.

Can we not then use a tool we know is at our disposal to disseminate messages that we also know will be useful and will make an impact? Instead of using primetime cable network time to broadcast archaic TV shows that are little more than period Victorian dramas masquerading in 20 layers of makeup and Indian clothing, we could use it to get people OUT of a mental rut instead of digging them deeper into it.

But we can’t seem to.

The second big issue is the fact that there is absolutely no fear of retribution among these people. They know that with money and connections, or either one of those two, they will get off scot-free, untouched, and free to roam the streets like the pathetic sewer-rat vermin they are and commit as many crimes as they please. Nobody will touch them, if they know the right minister, cop, have a rich uncle, aunt, mum or dad, or are rolling in money themselves.
Actually, scratch that. No matter what socio-economic background you come from, rape is part of a completely messed up, life-sized game of Monopoly that seems to come with a ‘get out of Jail free’ card.  Which is exactly what they do, if they even find themselves in prison to begin with.

Our legal system is absolutely pathetic. It takes at least four years to even BEGIN to deliver a verdict, and any verdict made in that time or less is looked upon as something wondrous, and ‘wow’. More than half the cases out there have probably been lying in files since they were registered, the only things that have seen them being silverfish, for whom it is their next meal.

Rape or divorce, who cares? It is all ALWAYS made out to be the woman’s fault. Here you can read about a Bangalore judge who asked a woman looking to divorce her husband on the grounds of domestic violence to ‘adjust’, because her husband puts food on the table. Why are abject morons like this given any power whatsoever?

People actually have lists and pointers for steps they think women should and should not take so they can ‘avoid being raped or eve-teased’. Don’t stay out at night, don’t dress in ‘skimpy clothes’, inhabit crowded areas.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Rape is not about sex. It is not about so called ‘horny feelings’ or these men’s ‘lack of access to sex’. It is not about cellphones, chowmein, interaction, or the age of marriage. It is about disgusting, feckless criminal assholes who think they can have their way, and in New Delhi, end up doing so.

I also abhor the nomenclature of rape by the news media. Why must rape be described as ‘VIOLATING MODESTY’? Is a girl’s virginity her so-called modesty? I am well aware we live in a disgusting, completely backward society that in Twenty-blooming-twelve (and now thirteen)  that seems to prize a girl’s virginity, look to it as an indicator of her virtue, grace, her purity, her brilliance, and of course that all-important criterion, her success as a wife and human being, which of course are not mutually exclusive. India is one of the few countries where you still hear of rape victims being married off to their rapists. Why? Because the rapist ‘deflowered’ them, and since he has already taken her, er, ‘modesty’, he might as well KEEP it.

UGH.

But must so called modern media, media looking to erase this sort of retrograde ideal, promote it, on whatever level? Rape is not a ‘theft’ of anything. It is not a violation of a woman’s modesty. It is, however, a violation of her as a human being, which is the same as it would be if it were a man. It is a violation of her right to exist peacefully. It is a violation of justice to allow scum like this to roam the earth unfettered, swaggering around without any fear of punishment.

Violence has never been something I have condoned, but every time I read about a rape case in New Delhi (which is to say, every day), I keep thinking taking some sort of harsh, yes, violent action against these lowlifes, these sorry excuses for human beings might be effective,  at least at instilling some sort of fear within them, something that seems insofar to be nonexistent. Considering that these same men seem to think rape proves their ‘masculinity’, I suggest doing away with their genitals, which would have the added benefit of ensuring trash like that never reproduces, ever.  We won’t also have commenters like this guy I saw on the Times of India online comment board, pity I can’t find a permalink anymore:

” zahoor ahmed (bambayi) 1 min ago
why so much hype on this gang rape?the girl was roaming around in late night with a boy…what else one can expect? “

We don’t need to be leaving women tips about how to take care of themselves, we need to be weeding out crappy human beings from functioning society (if you can even call it that, really).

And to all those morons, everywhere, talking about people’s ‘mothers’ and ‘sisters’ and ‘how would the rapists like it if it were their mother or sister’, or ‘rape the rapists’ mothers and sisters’, WHY all the “mother-sister” talk? Are you not supposed to respect a woman otherwise? I suppose it’s telling that the two most insulting words in hindi have to do with screwing somebody’s mother or sister. Because if they aren’t, you’re free to do what you’d like, right?

We need to change the way we think (and by we, I mean a nation). We can all sit and wonder from what rat-infested corner of hell  people like those rapists are born. And you know where? Right here.They’re all born right here. Right under our noses.

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