Of hypocrisy, selfishness, cowardice and more…

Over the past week and more I have read a lot of posts both on blogs and FB and even commented on them. But Ashwini’s post asks a lot of uncomfortable questions. I tried commenting on her blog, but found it was becoming a full length post. So I decided to do it here, trying in the process, to understand our psyches that have made us the people that we are today.

Ashwini, you ask if we would unhesitatingly jump to defend someone being molested? Unfortunately, we have to admit shamefacedly that we do not, not every time. We have qualifications for doing that, you see: It should concern either us or ours; we should not come to any harm if we do; there should not be any long term repercussions. (there are many more such ‘qualifications’, but let them be, for now)

You see, we instinctively shy away from controversy and trouble. Why endanger our social position by taking sides, even if it is a blatant assault on a helpless person? So we remain silent and even quietly slink away before we are seen. We refuse to take a stand. And thereby hangs the tale of our cowardice.

It is not just about molestation and rapes. What about road accidents? Don’t we try to melt into the crowd to avoid the responsibility of taking the victim to the hospital? What would we do if there is a police case and we are called to testify in the court as the eye witness? Who has the time or energy to do it? We wait for someone else to come forward and then offer our support. Let them take the lead and the bother. We can always ‘support’ them, and take credit later.

Do we step in when we see children being thrashed by their parents or adults who hold power over them? It is their child. Why should we get involved in ‘someone else’ problem’? And then, what about harassment at work? Bullying by those who hold some form of power? What about manipulation, subtle or overt? Twisting of the truth?

The honest are browbeaten at every opportunity and if they raise their voices, they are ridiculed and vilified. The placard reads rightly: ‘You can get raped but not protest against rape.’

There are other reasons too. We don’t want to tangle with those in power, or with the bullies. It is not a pleasant experience to be targeted by these honorable members of society. So when the son of a politician or a high ranking police official, or an influential person in whichever field is the culprit, we run away double fast and melt into the crowds. Who knows how the person might harm/help one in the future? What if one antagonises him today and finds oneself out of favour tomorrow? Better be on the side of the powerful (and the wrong) and reap the benefits. Truth and justice be damned!

We have double standards and are very choosy about whom we defend, for we are hypocrites. We would be baying for the blood of the perpetrator of a crime most vociferously, proclaiming that we stand for justice. But the moment it turns out that the perpetrator is a son/friend/relative, there is a volte face. ‘Oh, it must have been her mistake. He wouldn’t have done it without provocation. He will surely have an explanation.’ All the righteous indignation and condemnation are tossed out of the window as we slink into the shadows, looking the other way. Why, we even support the perpetrator, for isn’t he ‘ours’?

And the perpetrator gloats. He has supporters who will stand by him and applaud him even if he is a criminal. And so he repeats the heinous act – by blaming the victim in addition to mauling her. If you can’t prove yourself innocent, trash the victim. So start throwing muck — the more, the better and the more chances of it sticking; the bigger the lie, the more it will be believed. Be brazen. ‘She is a slut; look at the way she behaves; she only pretends to be virtuous; in fact, she is ‘dented and painted.’ And soon the chorus is taken up by the friends and supporters and the chamchas. And if a sizeable number of people believe it, he can heave a sigh of relief. Maybe he has even gained some new admirers, even more unscrupulous than him. The victim has been successfully made into the perpetrator. So there!

Don’t we adore the despicable and the lumpen? Malice is the order of the day. We glorify swear words and filthy language as being ‘open and honest.’ Talking dirty is integral to this honesty bilge. Rudeness is part of everyday interactions and reality shows, including the ones involving children. We shame the losers for losing, all in the name of giving ‘honest feedback’. Yes folks, it is all about winning, by hook or crook — whether in politics, real, reel or the virtual world.

And we have even courts exonerating rapists by saying ‘he was lonely, depressed, grieving or was being victimized and so did it; he needs to be pitied and helped. After all, he is an honorable leader/doctor/teacher/actor/father/social worker/bureaucrat and can’t be all that bad, can he?’ That is the molester’s cloak of invincibility. And that gives him the power to act despicably and get applauded – in public and in private, which is why we have gang rapes as in Delhi and spectators applauding the molesters as in Guwahati.

And how do we react? We might seethe from within; we might even recoil at the possibility that it might be us the next time and might vow to ‘be careful’, but we are not vocal about it. For, how careful can one be in the presence of beasts? More importantly, how can we be sure that we might not ‘provoke’ the beast to be, well…beastly and maul us in the future? ….and so the beasts stalk us – silently, but with more and more impunity and brazenness.

Don’t forget that we are also voyeurs in addition to being selfish, cowardly and hypocritical. (Notice the number of (in)glorious adjectives adding up while describing ourselves!) In the name of creating ‘awareness’ and ‘educating’ the potential victims, we ‘share’ the pictures of the molestation, subjecting her to repeated violations by us, the voyeurs. It is all a matter of gossip and discussion cloaked in sympathy, and people avidly follow the news, albeit with horror — every sleazy and gory bit of it.

While we are being so considerate about the molester, the victim doesn’t deserve the same courtesy. The fact that she complains means she is of dubious character. So the police ask lewd questions and produce ‘proofs’ furnished by the accused – of photographs where she is seen with other men – never mind if they are morphed. ‘Do you have proof? And can you testify that they are genuine?’ she is asked. Today, an innocent can be framed by bribing the concerned police personnel for a pittance. And the victim takes ages to prove that the ‘evidences’ produced to frame them are all false.

Blaming culture, religion, social conditioning, the governance, laws etc. etc., can come later. First we need to look into ourselves and see what we are beneath the layers of sophistication. It is a sad discovery: standing up against injustice is not part of our psyches, at least not when it doesn’t concern us directly. We might undertake online causes and join candle vigils, but when it comes to the crunch, not many of us are ready to stick our necks out for the victim. Till such a time that we start being human beings first — putting all other agendas and ulterior motives aside — such things will continue, legislation and the most stringent punishment notwithstanding.

Ashwini, I am sorry, I still don’t have any answers to the questions you have raised. Do you, my dear friends?

Here is wishing everyone a great year ahead in 2013!

(Homepage image courtesy: heraldsun.com.au)

115 comments

  1. As you said, that’s a lot of inglorious adjectives. But all applicable, sadly.

    As I read your post, a part of me began to wonder where this cowardice was coming from. I can’t imagine us always being cowards. Surely we could not have been… we couldn’t have survived as a culture if we did. When then, did this learned behavior begin to over our societal narrative? There must have been a time- an incident, a wound- which triggered us into becoming who we have become.

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    1. Cowardice comes when one needs to be on the right side of people in power — in whatever form that is wielded. in order to curry favour sometimes one has to even pull oneself and one’s people down, to show that one is above the riffraff that is being mocked by those in power. That’s where cowardice comes from. As for surviving as a culture, I guess it is because of the strong roots that it has, which can’t be uprooted as others like the Mayans, the Aztecs and many others were. The knowledge and wisdom go too deep to be dismissed. But even in our everyday life, we are so selective about whom we support, what we support. We are too eager to show ourselves as well…being tolerant 🙂 We rush to justify wrongs, even when it is a heinous crime, if we happen to have a soft corner for or are in mortal fear of the person. Yes, it is indeed a lot of inglorious adjectives and everyone deserved.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. sad but we all have double standards .. nobody today wants to live an honest life .. if someone tries even he’s forcibly pushed down .. Honesty is something hard to find in our country today .. we are system and entire system is to be blamed …

    we are a bunch of fools good for nothing .. we appreciate wrong and discourage correct!

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    1. It is slowly becoming impossible to live an honest life in our country. The ones who want to, are often marginalised and ostracised by the society. Social media is adding to the whole thing by spawning more dishonesty in the name of ‘honesty’ and truth. We do and say things to be in the good books of people for the sake of doing ‘the right thing’ and staying away from controversies.

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  3. I think you characteristics of us human beings are to the point. And guilty as proven. The question is really; are we human beings getting worse or are we getting better (with each new generation)? There has always been people willing to fight for what is right – even when it’s not about themselves (which is what we are all willing to fight for to a certain degree at least). They bring light into the spirit of human beings. But are they becoming more scarce? And what about the rest of us? I think it’s too easy to be judgemental about all the others. Instead we should change ourselves, start to stand up when injustice is being done. It won’t change the world, but maybe it can make a change for one person.

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    1. You are right, Otto. We should look inwards instead of pointing fingers at others about being hypocritical. But it is a fact that altruism is taking a hit in the times of me, I and myself. And yes, change happens one person at a time.

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  4. This is a big block to be moved.I shamelessly admit that after some terrible experiences,now I think twice before jumping into a problem

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    1. But Bhavia, I have not just talked about physically jumping into the fray and getting hurt. But when one is scared and reticent about even taking a stand in a case where there is blatant injustice, not necessarily molestation or rape. We baulk at getting involved any which way and prefer sitting on the fence at best and running away at worst. That is what emboldens these criminals.

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  5. Hi, as usual you have shared what you fiercely believe in.

    To me the issue of not taking a stance is a part of our cultural identity .. we are taught to be polite, to be respectful, to not intrude, to not harm, to not be aggressive and so on and so forth. Simultaneously some or most of us are also taught is to protect ourselves from any potential harm, that the world is uncaring and the system is punitive. Hence taking a stance can be very difficult as it acts directly against our cultivated image. While there are other values such as valour, courage, acting from conviction, etc, they are either part of folklore or are attributed to people who are extra ordinary. That ordinary people are capable of extra ordinary deeds are not something that are part of our current cultural artefacts. Therefore we have to wait for those special one or two persons who willingly or by circumstances our heroes or heroines and we praise them, she’d tears for them, worship them, follow them and feel food that we are doing something worthwhile.

    I believe till we, ordinary people, learn and teach each other that both greatness and ordinariness lie within us and we are the heroes, we will continue to do what you have written about …. and will continue to look for heroes in others.

    And the more we do, the more cowardly we feel, the perprators become that much more powerful, the world becomes that much more uncaring and the system that much more punitive.

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    1. Sharbori, you have summarised my entire post in your comment and have done it in such few words 🙂 How true that we look for heroes in others while we are busy protecting ourselves and staying out of controversy and trouble! While we are ready and happy to unlearn and relearn cultural practices and imbibe new ones, we are reluctant to unlearn these cowardly and selfish traits in order to become better people. And so the perpetrators are getting stronger…. 😦

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  6. I believe you blog probably covered how a lot of people do feel should such circumstances arise. Fear often takes over our own thinking or even being inconvenienced. Can one forgive themselves after not helping when one could have tried. Yes a subject that one could go on and on about. Wonderful blog into the psyche of people.

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    1. Thank you Carrie for the words of appreciation. You have added a vital point explaining our inaction — fear. But sometimes this fear is not for physical harm but a lot of other intangible and frivolous considerations like losing popularity or standing out from the crowd and so on.

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  7. yes, what you are bringing out is a very relevant concern. We can find so many reasons for this; like religions, race, politics and all such; you have mentioned them in your post; that they can come later. But I am of the opinion that we cannot stand out and think separated from them; that forms part of our nation,. I n my opinion, we cannot think about our individual psyche without considering our national psyche.

    The nation has to create a feel of nationhood first of all. The emotion guiding us first and foremost should be that; oh we are all part of an equal nation.

    And I personally, see that ,that kind of mutual care happens in liberal countries where there is that kind of oneness in terms of that one nationhood.

    Another thing is when there is law and order in a country, we cannot do tit for tat against a person who has committed a crime. That is you cannot take law into one’s own hand. Also you mentioned about assisting a person involved in an accident; helping a person involved in an accident by a lay person has the chances of jeopardizing his or her chance of survival.

    And again, one should risk one’s life during an accident; say a child fell into water. But who can think of risking ones life in a gangster world; where there is no law and order like that of Delhi; Delhi or other cities of India are notorious for criminal activities; How can u risk your life for them? They are criminals for a reason, a reason supported and provided by India’s ruling machinery.

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    1. You have mentioned the perfect word — nationhood. While we can see this in most countries around the world, we seem to be singularly lacking in taking pride in our nation and nationhood. But Prasanna, leave alone nation, we can’t even think of our neighbours or anyone other than our closest friends and immediate family. I have said that we should begin small, take a stand against injustice, even if to boycott the perpetrator of a crime, even small ones, and not take refuge in the fact that the person is a loved one and so look away. There surely is no danger in doing that except maybe the singling out by the criminal and his supporters?

      Yes, the law enforcing and and implementing agencies’ laxity is also to blame to a great extent for the state of affairs. But is there something we can do about it? Look at the new laws against rape being framed!

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  8. Zephyr,

    Those are indeed uncomfortable questions. While we are selfish about ourselves and our near and dear ones, I believe that kind of selfishness can be directed in a positive way.
    If I care about my family only, I think I shoudl not just care about their physical well-being, timely means, good career but also their growth as humans. If this is the kind of selfishness we can inculcate, we can probably see an entire batch of selfless (in a way) and compassionate human beings. The problem lies in educating wrong values as well, i feel. It may not be intentional or sometimes even good education (ofcourse am not talking of university) may still see someone go off the track and indulge in something so blatantly barbaric – for that, we must work on improving the law. But prevention calls for a very strong foundation consisting of essential human values.
    I feel that if we cannot protest but are raising our children, friends or anyone through sharing of thoughts and imbibing right values in them, we have done a little towards it. The consistency and strngth matter, ofcourse.

    Love the insightful posts you deliver Zephyr! 🙂 May your tribe increase!

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    1. I like your suggestion about being selectively selfish which would prove useful and productive in the long run. I agree that any little thing towards making the society a better place matters, including raising sensitive kids. Thanks for the compliment, Kismitoffeebar!

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  9. jaishvats · · Reply

    Hi Zephyr,

    Your post is openly screaming out blatant truths….

    There are countries where people who stand up for justice are lauded and get the full support of everyone around…

    In our country and its totally corrupt administrative and judicial set up the chances of anyone daring to stand up being totally crushed are very very high…

    Only those who actually dont give a damn and are ready to take a chance stand up when the need arises….

    Yes, we cant simply blaming surroundings and circumstances I agree, but that has a huge part to play…

    In the long run, fear of outcome has resulted in the qualities you mentioned to become deep rooted…

    As you said, change needs to start from within…and its high time we changed…

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    1. And Jaishree, the action need not be very big or heroic. It can start small. in fact, it should start small, which will give us the courage and hope to do bigger things. Stand up to bullies and question the ethics when we see injustices, even if it is small. Letting down loved ones, indulging in violent behaviour and such should be questioned and the perpetrator ostracised. Instead, we applaud them — mostly out of fear of being the next target or because we want to be on the side of the stronger, for our own safety and to remain out of harm’s way. That is disgusting. And such behaviour has perpetuated the bullies and the tyrants whom we adore.

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  10. I am just hoping this horrendous crime will prove to change the way we people look at such crimes… when people will start looking at things differently… our conditioning will take time to change I guess… but i hope this is the starting point..

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    1. Welcome here, Hitchy. The problem with us is that every time something like this happens, we think the nation has awakened. Remember the Guawahati case? How was that different? Wasn’t it also heinous, with TV reporters joining in the act and legislators involved and all. We need to change ourselves, become conscious of social responsibility and act when needed, that is all.

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      1. the sheer magnitude of the anger this time made me felt so… sigh… I also saw a few people talkign a little differently and not being that cynical and I am generally a bit optimistic… Lets hope the mentality begins to change… fingers crossed..

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        1. Oh, it is not my intention to take away your optimism, Hitchy. But sometimes I am unable to get over the skepticism and despair. The law makers take things easy only because of this perennial short memory of the public. Let us hope and pray for a better world!

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  11. It’s easier to take a moral high ground – pretend that it’s them who are responsible for the moral bankruptcy that ails the nation, accusing others of apathy. The truth is, we all let that girl down. She lay on the road for an hour and not a single car stopped to help her!

    What if it’s us the next time?

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    1. That’s exactly what I meant when I said ‘we’ in the post. We are all a little of all those — hypocrites, cowards, selfish — and so the state of affairs. We not only let that one girl down, but are letting countless others down, every day. As long as it is someone else, who cares?

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  12. As I mentioned at Ashwini’s post, there was a time (20 years back) in Calcutta when I just had to raise my voice and people came to my rescue. I don’t know what has happened that has stopped this from happening and the whole thought is chilling.
    In the US, we can call 911 and we do not have to give our names; we can ask for help anonymously for another. We should have something like that in India which will summon official help even if we ourselves do not want to get personally involved.

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    1. WP seems to have swallowed my reply, Roshni. We are slwoly degenerating into a society of me and myself and that is one of the reasons for this decline in our behaviour as social beings. Also in our country, sometimes it is scarier to approach the authorities, especially the law enforcing agencies because they can also be intimidating and positively threatening to our well being.

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  13. G.N. Balakrishnan · · Reply

    A very candid analysis of the present indifference to injustice. I will stick out my head and affirm that this is more due to the shameless tolerance of the Government, Parliament and even judiciary, which is responsible for the present state of affairs. . I have never seen such a spontaneous uprising going on for days on end for a condemnable and sordid episode, ignored by one and all, even though such atrocities against women were perpetrated with impunity since the days of Adam and Eve, mainly due to male chauvinism,. except in the early part of 1940s, when the freedom struggle was at its peak and all of us as students participated voluntarily in the marches and protests. In hind sight, I even started doubting my wisdom in fighting against the British Raj, when at least, there was at least a semblance of rule of law and justice than at present, while governing ourselves has given us the licence and liberty to plunder, exploit, harass, humiliate and render the common hapless man impotent to voice or express his opinion candidly. . I feel, the public at large should strike now, when the iron is hot and pursue with similar courage and gusto against corruption, and also for electoral reforms and police reforms to rid the the nation from the clutches of the unscrupulous and self serving politicians.

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    1. I agree with your assessment that it is mostly due to the apathy of the three arms of our government that this state of affairs exists in the country. But our innate behaviour and thought processes are also to blame for it because we tend to change our judgement depending upon the subject and object of the case. We are biased and that has a great bearing on how these cases are handled. Why, even our honourable judges are biased as we have seen in many instances, haven’t we?

      As for the feeling that we were better off under the British, this is the view held by many, including many of the earlier generations of people of our country, though I doubt that they really feel that way. It is just out of the helplessness and frustration that such statements are made, right? 🙂

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      1. G.N. Balakrishnan · · Reply

        I entirely agree with you that the mental thought process and innate behaviour are the real culprits. But if you go deep into it, you will agree with me that the thought processes of the present generation is the culmination of the discipline or lack of it under their parental control, who themselves have witnessed a much more richer tradition of social values and mental discipline. The degenaration in the values after we attained independence is the “upstart” feeling of those in power, who shamelessly bend rules and regulations to perpetuate their hegemony in spreading an alien culture on the masses. In stead of imbibing the richer technological advances and exploiting it to our advantage, we seem to be drifting aimlessly in apeing western culture and social vales, which are detrimental for uplifting the thought processes, more becoming of our moorings and richer traditions. I now see signs of revival, once the outrage has stirred the conscience of the masses. I only expressed the rule under the British Raj, out of anguish , at the apathy and indifference of the middle and upper middle class to what is happening around them.

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        1. Oh, I understood the sentiment behind your mentioning the desirability of British Raj very well, GNB! My father and others of his generation did that too but didn’t mean it the way we used to think they meant it back then 🙂 We have to learn to be selective in imbibing any culture and only take the best out of them and not get blinded by the glamour. Even the west is looking towards its own moorings now and going back slowly. We will come to that stage sooner than later, once we have had our fill with the free society and experiencing its perils, just as the west has.

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  14. Meena Maharshi · · Reply

    I had been going through all the discussions and wanted to share the platform. While we are expressing our grief, our anger over the shameful incidence, it is true that so few would be brave enough for standing up. How many women who are at forefront in lighting candles will object to gang of goons harassing helpless girls in a local train? Let alone objecting, if at all, one foolhardy girl tries to say something, other ladies will look the other way trying to melt down in the crowd. Nearly 70 to 80 ladies can be overpowered by few teenage rascals.Delhi incidence has prompted a lot of discussion on women’s safety- ranging from body sprays, pepper powder,learning martial arts to even carrying a revolver. But when a girl is being insulted in clear view of 4-5 onlookers and those people already defeated by their freezed mindset, just hang their neck in shame(?) cowardice, just like Yudhishthir in Kaurav Sabha; then how that girl can gather courage to protest and protect herself? We need to teach our male population to respect women. A rape is not necessarily physical, at times women are raped every moment through those stripping looks in the eyes of known & unknown men.

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    1. Welcome here, Meena! You have pointed out exactly what happens in front of a bunch of women. I have experienced this in the Delhi metro. When the male passengers get into the ladies compartment and refuse to move, I always make a noise, but never have been supported by the women. They look away and even mutter, ‘so what if he is standing? he is not doing anything.’ As if they would object only if he did something! And I wonder if they would still do it. We simply don’t want trouble and would do anything to avoid it, even cringing under the lascivious eyes of the lecherous males. And have you seen the young men and even women look away, when they see a pregnant woman or an old person, in order to avoid giving up their seat to them in public transport?

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  15. Guilty as charged 😦 I’ll tell you of an incident that happened here. On a tram, an Indian guy was trying to work the ticket machine but couldn’t figure it out. He sought out an Aussie guy who unfortunately for him, turned out to be with a bunch of other drunkards and they started ridiculing him. I sat two seats away but I couldn’t build up the courage to intervene. At best I could have shown him how to get his ticket. But I couldn’t muster the guts to stand up and get in through the crowd of unruly guys. Guess what? An Aussie girl did just that. She stood, she walked over to him, showed him how to do it and then gave the guys a piece of her mind. This was in a crowded tram. This was in a place where security is strong and police will arrive immediately if anything were to happen. I was so ashamed but the only thing I could do to assuage my guilt was apologize to the guy about not having helped. And even that didn’t help me overcome my shame. I kept thinking about this incident for days later. I believe that in living in India and having worried about getting involved, what if you’re called to testify, what if the police harass you, what if something happens enroute and you get blamed, what if it turns out to be someone powerful and comes after you, fearing for yourself – for your families, the mind has now turned a blank. We worry first and react later. But this incident taught me a lesson. Its easy to find excuses for our actions, but it takes humanity to stand up for someone in a situation like this. I should not even try to find an excuse for my behaviour in a place where I shouldn’t have had to fear. Which is why, when the racism thing happened, I blogged about it here, I could also somewhat defend the Asian guy. It wasn’t a clean defense, but it’s a start. I don’t know if it might be the same in India – the worries and tensions there are different – but yes, we protest all we want to on roads and in blogs and on FB, but we’re hypocrites 😦 I wonder if the answer’s so simple though, its not a black and white answer anymore, its all shades of grey. Or maybe that’s just an excuse too.

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    1. Deepa, I admire your courage to admit to it. How many people would actually do that ?
      “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher

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    2. Things indeed are turning a murky shade of grey or as you say, it is an excuse not to get involved too. Add it up to the list of ‘qualifications for lending support.’ But the realisation that we should be raising our voices in itself is a good thing. It means our conscience is still intact and keeping us aware of our humanness. As for the girl standing up to give a piece of mind to those drunks, I can understand your reluctance, because drunks or lumpen in our country might have turned into beasts, which you feared but she probably knew that it wouldn’t happen in her country. I read the other post, where you did raise your voice. We take small steps, Deepa and should glory in every little one.

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  16. Mmm! Guilty of cowardice! The problem for me with our governmental/societal set-up is that high standards of individual courage is at all necessary to raise your voice or intervene in situations like this! In any decent societal set-up you should not need to be heroic to intervene when a woman is being molested.

    That said, given that this is the Society we live in, any change can happen only if we find the courage to be whatever is necessary. I hope I can find that in me going forth!

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    1. You have pointed it out so clearly, Suresh. In no other society would standing up for justice would be deemed heroic. But truth needs to be accepted. We have so few who would brave being singled out for harassment or worse, ostracism just for standing up. I have heard of such cases too where the supporters as well as the victims have been ostracised, in no less a crime than rape! What more needs to be said?

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  17. I realize today that I am a different person .. I just cannot see something going wrong and watch without interfering. My parents always feared I may end up being killed by someone in broad daylight on the streets. Be it parents beating children, schools punishing students, in-laws scolding the daughter in law or eve teasing, I don’t stand and watch whether I am connected to the people or not. I have had courage to stand up and fight for my rights and so I do for others.
    There was this incidence when a crowd of nearly 100 or more had gathered and surrounded the car my family was travelling in, just because the driver with whom my brother had fight gave it a communal twist. My mother nearly suffered a heart attack that day. My brother wanted to get out and face them but I knew they would beat up my brother if they lay hands on him so got out of the car and faced them myself trying to explain that a tiff between two drivers need not take a communal twist. All the while holding the lock on my brothers door so he would not get out. I did not sound nor was scared that day, one of the reason why no one took a step ahead. Thank God I could walk away with my family from there. My brother still accuses me, I made him look like a coward, but that was the only option I had. My Mom was a mild person who was very scared of fights, but neither my two sisters nor my brother has turned out like her. My elder sister who lost her battle to cancer, had slapped a guy passing lewd remarks at her with a slipper. May be the fiery spirit runs in our family. None of us has ever cowered and backed off from a situation.
    I hope when people start standing up and taking care of the smaller evils like wife beating, lewd comments, nasty touches and eve teasing then the bigger problems will take care of themselves.

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    1. Glad to hear that Farida ! Kudos to you. Yes, we all need that spunk and now adult conditioning has to kick in and dispel parental conditioning which always asked one to adopt the safe and non-controversial route

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      1. I like that term, adult conditioning. When we can unlearn so many lessons we learnt as kids, why not this one, eh?

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    2. Standing up against injustice does not mean foolhardiness, especially when faced with a mob. What you did was completely right and very prudent under the circumstances. And making your brother sit inside was also very wise, because mob mentality is beast mentality. But I salute your presence of mind and courage in doing that. And I am sure you’d do the same even if someone else had been at the receiving end. you are perfectly right when you say that the bigger problems will take care of themselves when we manage smaller ones. I am so proud of girls like you and Bhavana, Farida. Hugs.

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  18. Zephyr

    After this incident, I think people are thinking twice before letting something even remotely close passing their eye. I just hope the flame does not extinguish. May be all these things cannot change the world in one go or in one year but if we start from ourselves, things will definitely look up.

    A very searing post.

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    1. I wish that it were true, Jas. But I am becoming skeptical by the day. There is no saying if we will just add more ‘qualifying’ factors to justify our staying away from ‘someone else’s problems.’ It takes a lot to look inward and accept the failings and then work on them.

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  19. May be we can answer few of her questions but I’m sure, we can not act. Also, you know when someone faces the repercussions, our reply to them is ‘Who told you to act smart?’
    Being silent and not to act is considered as a wise thing. However, we do need to act. There was one case where I was quiet for few days but I acted when I realised by mistake. My only regret till date is why I never acted on the very first time. We need to protect each other to build a strong society or else we will give an infested and weak environment to our children.

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    1. Saru, we indeed have to stand up for each other, not just in such heinous crimes, but also in little things. Just so that the perpetrator feels isolated and thinks twice before doing something with another person. But we don’t do it, do we? We have all those qualifying factors coming in between and tying our hands and we continue playing safe — guard the milk, while cozying up to the cat 😦

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  20. Raajee. · · Reply

    Dear Zephyr,
    When i read your blog,i felt your anguish and helplessness.
    கலி முத்தி போச்சு. The famous quotes from Bhagwat Gita:
    “yada yada hi dharmasya
    glanir bhavati bharata
    abhyutthanam adharmasya
    tadatmanam srjamy aham”
    “paritranaya sadhunam
    vinasaya cha duskritam
    dharma-samsthapanarthaya
    sambhavami yuge yuge”

    “Sri Krishna said: Whenever and wherever there is a decline in virtue/religious practice, O Arjuna, —at that time I descend Myself, i.e. I manifest Myself as an embodied being.”
    “Sri Krishna said: To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.”

    if we try to inculcate even 5% of what has been said in the Bhagwad Gita then there would be unparalleled peace and serenity in our lives…but it a’int an easy road.. ……………..
    Lets pray for Lord kalki to come into power to destroy the evil force:)

    Raajee.

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    1. Oh Rajee, kali indeed has become ripe for an incarnation or a deluge to set things right. Unfortunately it looks like we might have to wait longer for Kalki to come and save us from our fate. The pursuit of mammon, our own selfish interests and the need to reach the top of popularity charts and success at any cost — all are proving to be the accelerating factors towards our doom. And it is a pity that we fail to see it as a path to doom and not to success. Thanks so much for commenting here 🙂

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  21. Very pertinent points. Harsh and cuts straight across. Most of us don’t adopt the road less taken just because it means a lesser hassle. While there is no denying the fact that we are all cowards who run away and look after our own selfish interests, I sometimes feel that more people would have come forward to help people in distress, if the system had been more permissive. If our police/hospitals were not the way they were, where the person accompanying is ragged, we might have had more ordinary folks coming forward instead of waiting for the extra-ordinary amongst us !

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    1. Welcome here, themoonstone. I am sorry it came out harsh, but that is the way it is, isn’t it? Yes, we would be more forthcoming had the system and the enforcers of the law were more sympathetic, but I also include issues and calls where one only has to brave being the odd one one out or being ostracised for taking a different path to stand by the truth. This is not something one needs to be wary of, but for our own selfish motives we baulk at doing it too. That is where our cowardice kicks in and we decide to play safe, melting in the shadows.

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  22. Very thoughtful post…. We were thought by our elders not to go in the middle of a fight, stay low, if someone bullies you just walk out from there….etc….. I feel this all should change….I teach my daughters never to keep quite, give back then and there itself….No one will have guts to get back to you….

    Once i was a victim where no one supported me including female passengers or the bus conductor, it was my friend who shouted and threatened to take the bus to the police station. I was ashamed that i didn’t give that women back who abused me…I cried why i didn’t had guts to fight back…i cried why no one supported me…..I realised it is only you who can help yourself not the world….atleast that day i had my friend with me…..I told my mom about that incident she said tolerate, you see a lot of people like that…ignore them and don’t let those things effect you. But i won’t teach my daughter to tolerate or keep quite… I will teach her to shout back… threatened them….. help others…

    Sorry it drifted from the topic…

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    1. You didn’t drift from the topic. This space is for my readers to share their feelings and experiences and even if they are opposite of mine, they are welcome to. You see, Saritha, sometimes the lessons we are taught has the opposite effect on us. What you were told to do, you did as an obedient daughter but when it is time to raise your own children, you have decided to take the opposite route. That is the sign of a balanced and well thinking person. But how many want to be that way? Isn’t following the crowd easy? Isn’t taking someone else’s lead in exonerating/condemning better? We need more mothers like you who are teaching their daughters to raise their voices.

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  23. MAMI, You have asked some tough questions.

    The thing is we are quick to say its a MAN’s fault, I am sure you know my views. People in our nation are good in back biting and being hypocrites , I am probably one myself.
    I have a read a lot of articles and majority of the places I have found its again back to MAN bashing.. Its only the near and dear ones who actually go through the horror..

    A billion strong country HOW can we not change the system IF WE WANT TO, If the leaders get ONE SLAP each from a BIllion strong people , imagine A billion slaps , what will happen to them .. BUT the same people who took to roads and all, many amongst them will be queing and VOTING for the same leaders ..

    What WILL I DO if i see it happening , Well I Dont know what I will do although I pray to god that he gives me enough strength to do WHAT SHUD BE DONE..

    we go about petty things, talking how india is developing , Too much interested in CRICKET. I never see any celebrerity come out to protest, yet if A ACtor or a hero of a movie is sick or ill Millions come out to pray for them ..

    ITs small changes that need doing , how many of us stop to help a person who has just had an accident, we cant do this how are we to help a person being raped.. YEs if we have the guts to help that person in accident then maybe We will stand up to help a person being harassed.

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    1. I am sure that you will do what should be done, if you face a situation that demands your intervention. This post is not just about the men who are rapists, but also about women who take the easy way out and follow the herd when it is time to take a stand. Hypocrisy is our second name, Bikram. Welcome to the club. As for the billion slaps, that will be the day. But we the people should start small, as you have rightly pointed out. One good deed a day, as the scouts are asked to do. And then maybe, we will become sensitive enough to stand up for justice one day regardless of whether the accused is our son or friend.

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  24. Zephyr, may I begin by saying that in my opinion, this is your best post ever?

    We are always making choices (and in some cases have someone else make it for us) — from friends, profession, career, lifestyle, food that we eat, life partner… So in that sense I’m not surprised that we choose whom to support, what to support, how to support, and even when to support ! In a rather unrelated way, it is like my neighbour aunty who helped another neighbour’s daughter through an inter-caste marriage, but threw a fit when her own son wanted to marry outside the community !

    As you have rightly pointed out in the post and in the comments as well, just standing up to rape and molestors is not enough; it is also standing up to bullying, bullies, molesters and other aggressors and also support others who experience it. Till we realise that the “cause” (I use this word for lack of a better one) is greater than the people concerned, we cannot really say that we care or that we are doing something.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening as a society, both in the real and virtual worlds, peopled by those that choose to support and victimise others without a care.

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    1. Thanks Sudha. In Tamil we say, ‘oorukku vadiyar,’ because we preach but fail to realise that we also need to practice what we preach! Yes, this post is about standing up for what is right, what is just and true. But then we are so selective about our causes, aren’t we? While we look the other way when someone is being bullied or molested, we scream blue murder when someone even scratches us. No, we are too selfish and too opportunistic to realise that the cause is bigger than the people. Jo tan laage….they say, don’t they? And as a people we lack that kind of scruples and commitment to causes big and small.

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  25. I agree to what latha is saying..when we protect our children by asking them to keep quiet, we are sowing a seed for cowardice..It all has to start at the roots..

    happy new Year!

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    1. Starting at the roots is a great way to begin, but even adults can learn these things, as they learn so many other things connected to duniyadari.

      Wish you a very happy new year too, Renu.

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  26. ” scold a child and he will stop messing around . Motivate a child and he will study” this completely fits in the scene ,> a rape incident took place along with the rod act and the victim dies . The public was antagonized , media outraged and the opposition did what it does best playing the ” blame game” & ” if I was in government I would have managed it far better , so next time vote for me you fools ” .Huh !! what all we did was scold the government , I ask we had millions to protest , but do we have thousands to help the government to formulate strict laws??
    Another question I will like to ask , why suddenly such protest over a single killing . Had this killing took place in a small city would the country still be so agiatated and if anyone thinks yes !! Please check the stats of rape in rural areas. If people were so moved by killing of this girl , what happened to people killed in Gujarat riots ?? No fast track courts demand baby!!

    why these protests , why this sudden awakening of nation for ethics , why has the nation moved by the this single death when countless people had been more heinously killed and when families and generations have been burnt , These same people were seeing and doing nothing .
    Protest are highly biased and this makes them so weak . consider a Dalit woman being raped and beaten to death in a village of Bihar/Uttar Pradesh , This is a straight shot for the spot answer it ZEPHYR

    Do you expect the same protest???

    I was taught that love cannot be equally distributed but they never told me that hate can also not be equally distributed .
    If they really want to protest they should have protested many years ago and will have to protest many years in the future.
    The protest for Damini have just begun ………….
    Do they really know this??

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    1. This post is just attempting to answer the questions as to how we behave in crunch situations. It has taken off from the Delhi brutalisation but is by no means confined to it or crimes against women. It addresses small and big crimes and other issues relating to justice which we conveniently ignore/justify/protest against. Also, while love can be distributed equally by the really evolved amongst us, there should be no hatred, only fight for justice, else subjectivity comes in. Thank you for commenting.

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  27. Read both your posts..I am giving the same comment here too…Fighting and standing up for oneself and friends doesn’t come in a day. It has to start at a very young age when kids are bullied or bullying others. It has to come within our family first. If people don’t fight when power and money is involved, it is totally understood for all the factors you have mentioned. But, small things, BM..very small things like harassment in public transits, bust stops, parks..at least if one human stands for the other, that is a huge change in itself..and I strongly wish that change comes in this generation.

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    1. Sticking one’s neck out is hard Latha. No one wants to be singled out and harassed or ostracised. So the easy way out is to either remain silent or vanish from the scene. What you don’t see, won’t affect you, right? Why get involved in another’s problems? is the attitude even as we forget that it is a problem that could affect us too one day. We need to have some scruples, some morals, not just think about ourselves, that is all.

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  28. True. Food for thought. It is difficult to change oneself over night. Maybe one should start small and with practice that kind of attitude of sticking out neck for others will come. I don’t know. I personally am confused between prudence and valor. Not sure if I would have been happy to be dead like those boys who stood up for their female friends and got killed.

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    1. your idea of starting small is good, but even here, we tend to weigh the long term benefits and repercussions before we do it. The attitude needs to change. Any injustice needs to be questioned and stopped. Period. That would make for change, slowly but change nevertheless. We find reserves of strength to fight for our close ones, and I am sure we would all have done the same too. But to get the same feeling for everyone is what is needed.

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    2. That’s the thing TF. Those are the kind of incidents that scare me. When the good samaritans who interfered where killed. When a teenage girl who asked a man to stop urinating on the wall of her house got shot. When a pregnant nurse argued with a biker on brushing her, the biker and his mother (hear this!) as well as his teenage sister kicked and beat the nurse leading to her miscarriage. These are the ones that instill fear in our minds. But these are the ones also happening because 1. When one person interferes, other’s dont – they stand up and watch the show. 2. The law and order is not swift enough to take action and show that they won’t tolerate this behaviour. The mother/daughter/son trio have warned the husband that if he files a case they would say that the nurse had started the fight and they were only defending themselves. Sigh.

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  29. Well Said. Actually the ability to help someone lies in one’s hands. Its the choices the person makes that matters. Whether to help or not. And that would depend on whether the person in distress is related or if the incident would affect the person individually. It all comes down to us, the power lies in our hands.

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    1. You have said it right, Ashwini. The choice to help or not is in our hands. If not physically, at least in some other way, but the will to help should be there and it should be unconditional, not tempered by considerations like the perpetrator being one’s near and dear ones. We should only remember that the victim could be us tomorrow if we let the perpetrator get away.

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  30. Wow ..that really sent me thinking Zephyr and although I am not so brave like Bhavana …I think I have raised my voice many times like the time when a pregnant woman was being jostled in a crowd and there were young men seated in seats reserved exclusively for women …or the time when the wash room for women in our office was in a deplorable condition . But this does not answer your questions right …?

    Here I would like to add something although it is slightly off track .It is time women come out of their brands and start looking at themselves beyond the roles of “Mother” , “Sister” and “wife” . A little selfishness is needed to assert our rights .Selflessness is a much overrated virtue .I will never advocate it .

    Now as to why rapes and eve teasing and acid attacks happen ..well men and even women themselves see them as asexual beings . Women are meant to just cater to many needs ,physical…biological and yes…sexual. They are just meant to satisfy …that’s all. Their consent hardly matters ! So if a woman does not oblige …just attack her . On one hand we ban books like “Lajja” and on the other hand people like Honey Singh enjoy their own slice of cheap popularity .

    Cowardice and hypocrisy are manifestations of our years and years of our corroded thinking and coming to the point if I ever catch any of my two sons eve teasing or harassing a girl …I think I would take them to task that very moment and I would have said the same thing even long before the Delhi incident .

    And before ending a big shout to Bhavana .We need more women like You and Zephyr we need more articles like these to make us truly reflect !

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    1. Oh, I do that all the time — asking people to get back in line, allowing an older person to go before me, fighting for seats for old people in buses, making a scene when some lecher tries to grope — we all have done that at one time or more, but as you say, this is not the entire answer to the questions raised. As for selflessness, I think you are talking of martyrdom by women, who put others before themselves. The selflessness here transcends that and is not just meant for women, but both sexes. Being impartial when it comes to issues of morality and principles is what is required. However, not many would do what you would do. The stand changes when it is one’s near and dear ones and we begin to come up with excuses for the perpetrator. Doing is hard and Bhavana deserves all kudos. Writing is comparatively easy.

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      1. Sridevi, you talk about young men seated in seats reserved for women. What about young women who do that and refuse to stand up for a well along pregnant woman? I had noted my experience here. In the fight for equality and/or reservations, what makes us side-step humanity?

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      2. Yes we do …I have seen it happening …not only dear ones ….but it transcend to ourselves also …while we abhor some qualities in others …we don’t realize we possess the very qualities in abundance . Of course this does not mean that everyone who condones sexual harassment is a torturer …I am talking about life in general …self introspection every now and then is what is required !

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        1. You are so right, Sri. We are a people with glorious double standards. Self introspection? What is THAT??

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      3. Just read your reply to my comment …but could not post back another reply . What you said is right . Yes I did indeed mean martyrdom when I said selflessness . Also while we are blind to the faults of the ones near to us …we fail to see our own faults ….this is not just about molests and sexual assaults . We might voice our views vehemently against child labor …but employ a child servant . We might say the family needs this money …we even glorify our acts …calling ourselves kind and charitable . …but if we really wanted to help …we can always help …can’t we …we need not employ the child …we are humanity filled with excuse-seekers 😦

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  31. A timely post asking for soul searching.

    I can proudly say, I am not in the “we” , referred here.

    I have stood alone, exposed, risked a lot of things, in my life.

    Yes, whenever possible we would help, seek help, use our intelligence to avert crimes you have listed.

    I have seen , in my personal encounters in tricky situations, that the perpetrators are mostly cowards, and they do stop and pause. I have mobilised voices , against sexual harassment in office. It is not difficult, one has to believe that it is the cause to be defended.

    There are many like me out there. Together , good deeds can be done, to stem the rots in daily lives.

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    1. I am glad that there are many like you, Bhavana, Radha and Amit out there. But this post is not just about molestation and rape. It is about a lot of other things where injustice or wrong are being done, where one needs to take a stand and action. When we stand with one leg in one court and the other in the other, we are being cowards. We are in the habit of lynching the victim, because the first mover has the advantage. I know of a case where the man who had been cheated of lakhs of rupees was framed as a thief who had stolen money and blank cheques from the office. The police knew it was false and the man who framed him knew it too. While the actual cheat got away and is merrily cheating more people, the framed person is trying to prove his innocence! That is the way it works here, Pattu. Some issues might look like small ones and so are dismissed, but injustice is injustice. Brazening it out helps clear the wrong doer’s name — at least till he is found out. Which is why the rapists cry foul about the girl they have raped. And the system buys it.

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      1. i agree, My family had gone thru a lot due to cheaters, a,d we carried lots of blame. It took us years to get over, That has given me more strength to stand up.

        Recently, our relentless campaign for water supply , has resulted in , my home getting drinking water again:-)

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        1. You are indeed an inspiration to all, Pattu. We have to speak up to be heard and sometimes act to make things happen. I remember reading about this on your blog 🙂 False cases are easy to plant but hard to get out of. Just like the criminals who rape and molest and gloat or get away while the victim struggles to get over it, sometimes succumbing to the assault 😦

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          1. Thanks Zephyr. I know, we have been lucky, to get small stuff done, by speaking up.

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          2. Siru thurumbum pal kutha udhavum 🙂

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  32. Every point you have quoted is like hitting our head. Is education changing us? I doubt. These incidents are increasing day by day, or coming out because of the media, people are slowly waking up…a small percentage, though. There are people, even in my own family who say that the girl should not have gone out at night and should have waited to catch a govt. bus. The bus was a school bus and it carried small children and god knows how they were treated. But many people take it easily. The bodies of the girl and the boy lay nakend for a long time with a huge crowd surrounding them. Nobody bothered to drape them with even a dupatta…yes, they were scared to get involved even slightly… Somebody started giving voice and the others followed. I think something is wrong in bringing up our sons too! We don’t give much importance to their character like we do with our daughters. If we do, our sons would become good human beings, better than us. I hope my sons would take the first step to help other people, esp. women if they see them in trouble. Very rarely we come across people like Bhavana.

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    1. It is our habit to find excuses for the perpetrator and then blame the victim, at least in cases of injustice and molestation/rape. One main reason for this is so that we don’t need to take a stand against the perpetrator who might be influential, a male or someone vindictive. Why tangle with such people, when it has not affected us personally? So we keep quiet. I remember seeing one statistic in a study done on rape accused in Tihar, that I found very significant. In addition to mentioning that they had an innate hatred for women, it also said that 80% of them are very poor. I sometimes wonder if it is all more due to the economic disparity added to misogyny and perversion. We all need to start small, as Bikram has said. Then we can think of standing up to rapists. Let us take a stand next time we see some injustice being done, however small.

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      1. Yes, we should start doing that, Zephyr.

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  33. You have shared some very pertinent issues here. Yes, morality in thought and deed are often two different things. Practicality is also a fact of life. But, somewhere our laziness, apathy and cynicism has allowed things to go out of control. The police, judiciary, and the people are all in a rotten state. And, they will not improve till we make a beginning in our own homes and in our own mindsets and deeds. Passing the buck is easy, but look within you and somewhere the beginning of the problem lies there.

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    1. Practicality is fine but it is used to justify inaction and looking away. For instance, when a wrong is being witnessed, even if you are unable to help physically, there are many ways you can do it. But it is easier to join the majority and do what that majority does. Safety in numbers. Besides, why go to all that trouble when the repercussions might be harsh? We are a selfish and opportunistic people, Rachna, there are no two opinions about it. Like Amit has said, this movement might just prove to be the turning point for us, as a society and as individuals.

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      1. I completely agree with you. There is no excuse for inaction. Like you pointed out, there is always something that can be done by any onlooker. I have personally gotten into trouble for speaking out and for standing up for what I believe is right. Like Amit, I am hopeful as well that continuous pressure will bring about change, how significant or long lasting is yet to be seen.

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      2. Safety in numbers? 😦 Looks like the persons committing gang rapes have learnt that lesson. But our community as mute bystanders is yet to learn the lesson. Instead of using safety in numbers to stand quietly, if we use safety in numbers to stand up against injustice, we probably wouldn’t be in this state today 😦

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  34. I have read your post -every word stimulates the grey cells.What can i say;it has all been said by you & others.

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    1. You can say a lot, Indu, with your experience and sensitivity. Waiting to hear it….

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  35. I guess democracy works when we are all united in action. Otherwise the bullies, cheats and the uneducated find it all too easy to make us their victims.

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    1. Unity, Kayem? what is that? We are all out to get the best out of things, to become the best, and who cares about the rest? The politicians who get elected by the votes of the masses forget them the moment they sit in the Parliament and then have the temerity to tear gas them if they protest for their rights. They break the good by framing them, throwing muck at them, creating suspicion in the minds of the people, as they did with Anna and the IAC. The media is bought by them to do their bidding or else….Fear is the key, the threat of punishment is scary and the threat of ostracisation is worse. So play along, buddy…But this movement was spontaneous. Only it should go on and not peter out as the others have.

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  36. A very thoughtful post as usual, Zephyr. You are right, we do shy away from controversy and trouble. We hesitate to help anyone- fearing the probable consequences.

    You have mentioned that for us to come to someone’s assistance, that ‘someone’ should be a person close to us. Very right. And what is frightening is, that this circle of ‘our’ people is getting smaller and smaller.

    There was a time when a whole village would be like an extended family. Now, particularly in the cities, only members of our immediate family are considered ‘ours’. Very few would be inclined to go to the assistance of a neighbour, let alone a stranger on the street.

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    1. Yes Manju. There was the time, not too long ago when people believed that they had to ‘khade hona’ with their near and dear ones, including neighbours. Also, there was a general sense of community feeling that made them stand up for the right which also made the wrong doer cringe and hesitate repeating it again. But today we applaud crassness and obnoxiousness as great achievements. Rudeness is rewarded and lies are welcomed. A murderer can get away by framing the one who has put a case against him. The innocent is left to spend all their time trying to prove their innocence or slink away. It is the time when adharma wins hands down, and that is really worrying.

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  37. I don’t know ….I am confused. Long back when travelling from Mumbai to Vizag. A man tried to get smart. While I was sleeping he pushed his hand up my legs. I warned him twice. He didn’t listen. I did not cry for help. I kicked him, scratched him and took my razor out.
    Why because I was sure that none would have helped. Once lady was looking at me accusingly that why was I travelling alone….

    Mindsets, law.. I don’t know. It is about falling moralities

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    1. Falling moralities is what the post is all about Bhagya, though I have not specifically said that. Even a couple of generations ago, such crimes were not so rife. And no, it is not just because they were not reported. Even the scum had some scruples — they wouldn’t touch a married woman. I know of many unmarried women who would wear a mangalsutra to throw them off their trail and it worked! today even 80 year olds are not safe, just as infants are not. Perversion has taken over and as I said, glorifying the crass, the rude, the obnoxious, is considered the hep thing to do. What more can I say?

      your ordeal must have been terrible. And I know of all those men and women who watch silently and condemn by their looks. The victim becomes the perpetrator, Bhagya. And there is no one to take up their cause.

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  38. Zephyr there are no set answers for such questions. The malady is inside us. The attitude is the biggest problem in the society. The pink revolution can topple the Govt. but cannot change the attitude of the society in toto. It all comes down to individual finally.Let me tell you I always acted according to my conscience and stood up against what I felt was wrong.Had to pay for it but never backed out. Small beginnings can be made. Everything is not lost. Each one of us decides today that come what may at least I will give a honest try to register my protest in whatever way possible if any deplorable incident is happening before me. Zephyr we can still stem the rot. It’s not all that bad may be we can say its alarming. We can make small beginnings around our place say in our building by talking to kids and also youngsters and try to instill some good thinking.If it clicks it will have ripple effect. All is not lost!!!!

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    1. Oh you sound as gentle and reassuring as you do in person too 🙂 I too would love to hold on to that hope, that our youngsters would still mould this country and take it away from the ruthless merchants of selfishness and the lumpen, who aim to rule by keeping everyone in control and in fear. It serves their purpose well and it is easy for the people to fall in line. Less trouble and tension, see? So what if we compromise on our principles a little? After all, we are staying away from the scene, so no one can point a finger at us. Why, we can even feign ignorance of some happening and wiggle out.

      I remember your telling about being targeted by the wife when you tried to save her from her violent husband who was thrashing her on the road. But did it stop you from trying to help someone else? That is what true men and women are made of. I am proud to be your friend 🙂

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  39. Aunty, you cannot be more right about this. So many of us stand in silence, despite our fury against it all. But why have we become like this? Is it because we are part of a system, and cannot ourselves survive if we attempt to stick our necks out? I wish there was an answer.

    Please do read my post as well… http://e-pinion.blogspot.in/2012/12/stop-linking-sex-to-honour_31.html … I totally agree with what you say …. We need to start with ourselves first. We need to be the change.

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    1. We are all victims of the times, when all the things I have listed are making us selfish and go for self preservation. The system is us, Ash. We can change it if we want, but following the herd is easier and so we do it. A simple thing like saying openly that something is wrong and is condemnable is fraught with so many riders. What if the person harms us too? What if I am isolated? Why should I get involved in something between them? All give one answer: Run away! And we run as far as we can and wait till things blow over before coming back and picking up from where we left off, as if nothing happened in the interim. is it cowardice or opportunism or self preservation, or what?

      I will surely read your post and leave a comment, Ash.

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  40. What you have said is true aunt Nag, but if you go deep the question we should be asking ourselves is why have turned into such hypocrites and cowards. We are not born like it. Over the years we have seen enough examples in life and media to turn us into selfish beings. We know we do not have the support of the government and the system. We can’t even trust the police. An honest and straightforward man is considered a fool today. Diplomacy wins the day for us.

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    1. We indeed turn into selfish beings by the happenings around us and the examples we see. But that is going to be counter productive and we can’t afford it to be like that. In olden days, people stood by their kith and kin and neighbours in joys and sorrow. Today we have reduced the circle to a tiny one and are paying the price for it. So many factors come into play before we decide that we should support the victim of injustice, not just rape. Sadly, it is opportunism and not diplomacy that wins the day, Maddie.

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  41. Zephyr,
    I would like to believe that for some of us, this incident marks a change in our attitude. This is the only hope we can cling to. We are not the same people we were 2 weeks back.
    I know of people who have fought back before this incident and I believe that their tribe has grown 10 fold after this.

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    1. I do hope that it marks a change for many of us to be willing to get involved in any way to help someone in distress. There are many good people, people willing to risk harm to help others, and we need to highlight them more. This post was the culmination of a lot of things that have dismayed me over a period of time. As you say, we have to cling to the hope that the awakened masses will not be silenced again. The young have to take the lead now.

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  42. Zephyr what you and Ashwini have written speaks volumes about the morality and how it has taken a beating over the years. This cuts across the divide of rich and poor ! Enough reasons attributed but the fact remains that charityy begins at home. I am of the firm view that if boys are not taught to do all kinds of work, teach them to respect women, take pride in ourselves, no legislations will make difference. You have cited enough examples, but I now feel that the winds of change will be brought by the younger generation who have seen the hypocrisy and are not willing to be brow beaten anymore!!

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    1. Well said, Rahul. Boys need to be made to felt that they are children — not special because they are boys. I remember standing up to my MIL and insisting on making the boys do housework. She would say, ‘If you can’t do it, I will. But don’t make them touch the broom and mop,’ etc. I remained firm and today they both can do all the housework without hang ups. The winds of change will come if they are sensitive to those who are victims of injustice in general, not just gender related ones or rapes and molestations. The qualifying factors should be removed unconditionally for any change to be ushered in.

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  43. so so agree to what you wrote…Its so true that we seem to be a set of people who dont seem to stand up for anyone…we firmly believe, me, myself and perhaps my family…Infact, I am so upset about the entire incident about the gangrape that I seemed to have stopped thinking logically…its just hurt me so bad 😦 May be I will comment better, when I am in a better frame of mind!

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    1. RM, this is not just about the gangrape or molestation, though they have been the pegs for this post. It is about our general apathy towards injustice and the one who is being victimised. For it is easy to brazen it out, to turn the tables on the victim, which is what we are so good at doing. We as a society are, as you say, very very selfish and can’t see beyond our noses.

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  44. Guilty as charged. I can never ever muster courage to stand up and fight. I am the person who melts into the crowd and avoids trouble. Perhaps this is me. I rage and burn within but cannot stand up and fight. I can write and join discussions, Zephyr but definitely cannot be brave to question a man who is beating his wife. I have been chastised by many and have been branded a coward but I cannot help it, Zephyr. Even when my own family members fight, I just slither away. This is how I’m made. I have tried standing up but have not managed to sustain. I loathe how I’m when it comes to these issues. What do I do, dear Zephyr.

    But still when I read posts as this one, I feel rage as well as helpless. Even when I was groped and touched by strangers in the public transportation, I just tried moving away or tried to get into a place where they couldn’t reach me. I have never tried shouting or asking for help or raising a cry. I admire the women who raise a protest and slap a man.

    For me, it’s not sophistication or social class or the hassles of time and energy. I just cannot do it.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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    1. Oh Susan, I don’t know how I missed replying this comment. I am so sorry for doing it so late. I have not talked only about physically doing something when some injustice is taking place. It can be anything like calling for help, alerting others to help, even taking a stand when required. One should be clear about one’s standing in a particular issue and be firm on it. Not vacillate if it is someone whom one likes or is close to or shy away. That is what is making me mad. We have all been made to feel bad when we are victimised because it is automatically assumed that we are at fault for provoking the baser instincts, so we remain silent. And I can totally understand how you feel about not being able to do it. There is nothing to feel ashamed about. THAT is one way of making your stand — not feel bad about it 😀 Hugs.

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  45. I’ll tell you one hard-to-accept fact: Leaders are not born. They mold themselves into leaders by helping others, irrespective of how difficult their problems are. People who shy away from helping others will always be a follower or a dummy leader (controlled by someone else).

    Everything might look difficult at first. Especially solving problems that doesn’t concern us. But if we start helping others, the skills we gain due to it, is invaluable. Those skills will later help us, when the need arises.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Rajesh, some of them, like me cannot stand up. I can write but not protest. What do you have to say for people like me?

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      1. Oh my, writing is one of the biggest form of protesting. It is not without reason that Napoleon Bonaparte said, “The pen is mightier than sword”. Never underestimate the power of reasoning and logic (as long as these are utilized in one’s writing).

        A thousand protesters may not influence the people who are in a position to implement/change laws. In fact, it may have the reverse effect, as we saw recently. But one logically sound and convincing article, might make a bigger difference.

        You never know who is reading your blog, or one of those blogs that produces an excellent article with real/workable solution for this problem, with your comment adding to the discussion, or a letter written by you to the newspaper editor.

        Perhaps a potential rapist is reading it and might change his mind.

        Writing can influence people at the highest levels and the masses, equally. Don’t underestimate the power of smallest contributions towards any cause (including ‘just’ a candle light vigil). It is the small drops that make the ocean.

        Destination Infinity

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      2. Sorry to reply like this, I can understand you cant protest , but can write now that is in itself a way of protesting.

        All I have to say on that is that most people have written on it BUT how many of them will actually remember after a month has gone by.. I read hundreds of posts on the Guwahti post , Who is talking of it now ?

        This is the biggest problem , people come to roads , shots slogans , this and that and what not .. but how many of those people have genuinly come out .. I can tell you one thing for sure a lot of people who take to roads are the first one to RUN away too..

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    2. It is true, Rajesh that what looks difficult will become easier once we begin helping others. But the motivation to do so is hampered by all the impediments I have listed in the post. Unless we overcome them, can we begin making a difference and when we shy away from helping others, we forget that our time to be on the receiving end can come any time. We are a self-wrapped society.

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  46. Zephyr, as usual you have attempted to answer uncomfortable questions in your own thoughtful way. I reflect back on myself. I have never stood back from trouble. Whether a person lying drunk but seriously hurt on the roadside to people being systematically hurt in an area to a man beating his wife–I have stood without fear and as smartly as I could. When folks have wanted vigilante justice, I have thought of smart ways and inconvenienced myself greatly to fight for what I believe in. Yes, it cost me enormous energy, my time, and I lost friends too. I was accused of several things from seeking popularity and media attention. And yes sometimes I become very tired and hate sticking my neck out. But my inner call is too sharp, too loud, too demanding and I have learnt to listen to it.

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    1. I also want to acknowledge the group of young men who stood up for me in Pune when I was being beaten up. They helped me escape and offered to stand as witness. I will never forget their willingness to stand up for me.

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    2. I am sure you do, Bhavana and do it well too. We should be sharing more such stories so that others will be encouraged and emboldened to do it. But what happens is that it is a subjective decision with one rule for us and ours and another for the world. And that makes it all a sham. True samaritans are too hard to find today. Today it is all about being rude in the name of honesty and brazen in the name of bold, which lets people get away with a lot. And sadly an event of such horror was needed to make people wake up. And as Amit has said, there are going to be many more samaritans after this incident.

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