I suppose we all witness events that unfold before us, in our daily lives, in our neighborhood, in the dramas played out before us, big and small, individual, social and political. I am just such a witness. I am fifty years old, educated, middle class, mother of two. I believe in individual freedom, as long as it does not tread on any one's right to also enjoy the same freedoms.
A series of events have rocked this city and state, over the last months, that require me to no longer be a silent witness. I must step into the witness booth, take an oath, and speak truthfully.How this will bear on the final outcome, the jury's verdict, is beyond me, to predict. All I can do is speak - speak about what is happening, and speak about how I feel about it - although the latter is not allowed in a judicial court. But this is not judicial court. I speak my mind, mainly to myself, and to anyone willing to listen.
Let me do this backwards....
This morning's paper carried news of a young woman beaten up for being attired in jeans.
Last week three young women were beaten up by groups of young men, in three separate incidences around the city, two in broad day light, in presence of a number of mute by standers...no protest, no help, no interference, from the the witnesses. Victims' fault - to wear western attire. Here is this report in Hindu.
On Feb 6, a shocking incident ripped our faith in the cosmopolitan, assimilative image that Bangalore has so far projected. A group of men and women were beaten up outside a central Bangalore bar, and then taken into police custody on the complaints by the aggressors 'the true sons of Karnataka! Their charges - something about trouble making outsiders.
Last month saw a much publicized television coverage of violence against women in a bar in Mangalore - the reporters were previously alerted to be present for some 'action' - and the reporters did just that, record the action, in photographs, videos, while the women got beaten up for drinking in a bar! The incidence saw many protests unleash around the city, state and nationally, including the brilliantly satirical Pink Chaddi campaign.
I witness these growing violence against women in our society - and there are so many questions.
Do the women in the lives of these aggressors know how their sons, brothers, fathers, husbands, lovers, friends, cousins have behaved? What do they say to the men? What do they have to say to the victims? Is there any understanding of these poor, wretched lost males who dare to violate rights of women- over their bodies, mind, dress, what they eat, drink, their right to be whoever they want to be? Will they force their own daughters, sisters to remain in purdah, not go to school, trained to be enslaved to whims of men, as probably no Sita ever was? What will they want for their young sisters, daughters ? That they have no rights at all - or only those granted by a fundamentalist and male interpretation of Ram Rajya?
What about the mute by standers? What kind of children are we raising that cannot protest - a wrong doing? any wrong doing? as individually defined? Or, have we so insensitised ourselves by the constant barrage of violence that surrounds our daily lives, in TV, newspapers, wars played out on all stages big and small that veiwing violence is just another opportunity for entertainment? Are we incapable of enrage, anguish, compassion? What are we capable of? Do we talk in our homes, with our sons and daughters - what would they do if this happened - to them, to you? or..were witness to acts of atrocities, violence? Would we advice our children to not get into trouble, not witness, walk away? Or would we say - scream, yell, help, call for help, question, participate? Is there any effort to discuss or even know for ones self, right action? That is all one can do - right to question, right to right action, right to protest against wrong doings. Do we protest - continuously, tirelessly, against the continuous wrongdoings?
It is funny that the BJP government in Bangalore is today hosting a large rally on 'anti-terrorism'. Will the politicians question the terrorism being unleashed within, that they fail to comment, counter, act upon?Is this lack of response, accepting of responsibility, even a blessing for the perpetrators of these acts of violence, all in the name of relegion, culture. Is ramming culture and relegion - which are individual choices and evolving social phenomena, not a form of terrorism, against individuals? Are these the kind of politicians we elect to govern our societies.
All these and many more questions continue, even as I Witness, rage, yell, protest at the social homicide that terrorises our society, city, daughters, sisters, me - a jean clad Mom.
** special thanks to Abi's blog for very often being the source of many news, many links