I dedicate this multi-part article to the memory of Jyoti Singh Pandey, the 23-year-old brave woman from India who gave her life to wake us up from our slumber and inaction. This moment is precious. Mobilize. Cure India from this horrific epidemic. Cleanse India’s soul of this pervasive apartheid.
This is a major moment in India’s history.
This part is all about action. Act NOW!! Read the action plan below. Suggest yours.
In Part 3 of this article (please click here to read it), we have a chart to show the reasons behind a biological epidemic and their interconnectedness.
Some of the reasons in that Intel Education chart are:
1. Extreme climatic conditions
2. Lack of timely medical intervention
3. Increase in population
4. Civic amenities
5. Epidemic control program
6. Govt. health policy
7. Increased awareness or interest
8. Absence of doctors
9. Role of NGO
I’d like draw a comparison between the above reasons (and there could be many more — feel free to add them to the list) behind a cholera-like epidemic and those behind the rape and violence on women epidemic. They are not the same; however, they are similar to various degrees.
I’m including some of the reasons off the chart here, replacing them with similar reasons behind the rape epidemic we’re discussing now, and suggesting some action plans to address them. The action plans I am suggesting, based on some ideas I received from friends and readers (see Part 4 — link here), are either proactive or reactive, or both.
Note that I am only suggesting action plans to address some of the problems outlined below. I invite you to suggest your action plans to address any one or all of the issues. I do not want to ever pretend that I have solutions for all of them.
I hope they make sense. Please comment and criticize.
1. Extreme climatic condition — replace it with extreme social climatic condition. — A pervasive culture where the society is extremely patriarchal and the powerful people in the society consider the woman is (1) inferior and never meant to be equal — due to religious and social doctrines plus archaic traditions and distorted history; (2) a dispensable commodity where her body and mind are subject of physical and emotional pressure as well as considered easy for sell and profit — Bollywood and market-mainstream movies and today’s rabidly pro-West corporate culture made it so; (3) too much speaking up for fairness, dignity and justice, which the powerful and deeply-entrenched consider a threat to their power, (4) therefore worth getting a lesson through various means of punishment including violence.
How do we act on the above? Both short-term and long-term actions are needed — proactive and reactive. Proactive actions are ordinary men and women and young peoples’ resistance against and rejection of the people in power — locally and nationally. What is happening now across India — big cities and small towns and no-name villages — must get support from a new kind of social and political force. This force will break down the iron wall of feudalism and patriarchy, and kick out the elite and the powerful. But it’s easier said than done: a section of Indian media is still not completely sold out, and they can be on our side.
2. Lack of timely medical intervention — replace with lack of timely social and political intervention. — As we reported before, thousands of rape and violence cases could either have been averted had there been a caring and efficient administration; timely and honest intervention would promptly apprehend and try the criminals, delivering justice. That would create a sense of security for the others who are vulnerable. Indian administrations have rarely done it; in fact, on countless occasions, a cruel and indifferent police, law enforcement and political leaders have either committed the crime themselves, or sheltered the perpetrators. This has greatly exacerbated the problem.
3. Increase in population — Nobody in the Indian administration talk about the catastrophe of a exploding population as if it’s not an important issue anymore. Other than its unbelievably dangerous health and environmental impacts, even the few and far between honest and sincere government and private organizations are terribly under-resourced, and civic amenities that ensure safety, security and a dignified living for women (and men) are simply absent.
4. Civic amenities — Police, protection for women, easy access for women and their families to government and law enforcement agencies and the legal system. Shelter and support for victims. India’s police is perhaps one of the most corrupt, anti-people, violent and inefficient. Overhaul India’s police system. Force the people in power to do it. Put enormous local pressure all across the country.
5. Epidemic control program — Control begins proactively at the schools, colleges and communities. Control begins at home. Control begins with equal rights and equal justice awareness where women are not treated as inferior or dispensable. Reactive measures include quick arrest, trial and punishment. DISCONNECT THE CRIMINALS FROM THEIR POWERFUL PROTECTORS. Reactive measures include social, political and economic support for the victims and their families so that they are not subjected to shame, ridicule and humiliation — common in the Indian society.
6. Govt. health policy — Replace it with government policy for women and violence. We force the government and other people in power and also media to lay out policies protecting women and keeping them safe from the pervasive attack of this epidemic. Just like health epidemics such as cholera, plague or small pox (or other disasters such as fire or terrorism) need well-designed, practical policies for prevention, this epidemic also deserves it. Force the government to discuss with grassroots organizations and social scientists, now.
7. Increased awareness or interest — Media, schools and colleges as well as religious institutions can play a big part to create awareness about this new epidemic. Media and Bollywood must fulfill their responsibility to work for the benefit of the society, and not just for profit by creating crazy sensation. I want to repeat what I said before: Indian education system must create a new, modern curriculum where equality for women is a foreword for any textbook.
8. Absence of doctors — Replace with absence of law enforcement. In case of India, we might say: absence of honest law enforcement, lawyers, political and social leaders. It is time to overhaul the vile, corrupt and violent socioeconomic and political system of India. This is India’s Tahrir Square moment. Moreover, to keep an eye on domestic or street violence on women, create groups to keep 24/7 vigil, without creating militia or armed vigilante groups such as the anti-immigrant Minutemen here in the U.S. We do not want violent gangs to fight violent gangs.
9. Role of NGO — Grassroots groups working in India and supportive groups across the world can come to seize the moment and make this new revolution — this new mass uprising against violence on women — a reality. Human rights violation in India should be used to pressure U.S. and European corporations and governments to DIVEST FROM INDIA, and put Indian market on a no-business list. Global economic pressure is one of the most powerful tools today to bring an end to such a horrific, gross violation of human life and dignity. Let us use it.
(To be continued…)