The furore of the heinous incident of the December 16 gang-rape has hardly died down when we have yet another case involving a minor child! One wonders if we are perhaps not headed for worse! Such incidents, especially those involving sexual assault on women is an indication of a malaise in the society that has begun to rear its ugly face! The protests and angry demonstrations that follow such incidents are an indication of the frustration, helplessness and disgust of the society at a complex system which is unable to tackle such crime. The impunity with which perpetrators of such crimes continue targeting innocent victims suggests a total lack of fear of punishment because of a tardy system of bringing such victims to account. It is clear that life imprisonment doesn’t seem to be a good enough deterrent for such crime. In fact after the December 16th incident, there has been a seemingly sudden spurt in crimes against women with each one getting worse. Nowadays crimes involving juveniles and targeting minors is also on the rise. Who is accountable to Damini and Gudiya? Was Damini’s martyrdom in vain? Are we yet to learn our lessons? Can we afford to be complacent till it happens to one of ours? Is the quantum of punishment awarded to these criminals good enough? Is life imprisonment as a punishment enough? Can we just speed up trials for these cases so that there is instant justice? Are perpetrators of these serious crimes not afraid of the law, or is it just that they are simply intoxicated by “blood lust” so as to be “seized by the moment?” Or are they simply instruments in the hands of the Devil? If they are in control of a supernatural agency like the Devil, then we need to do something immediately to counter this evil influence!
It seems as the reasons for this social malaise is much more complex. It is the result of a Nation going through the pangs of re-birth in the twenty-first century. The exposure to so much “good life” as displayed on T.V., higher standards of living, demands of a luxurious life, the increasing gap between the haves and the have nots, a cultural revolution that is dependent on the idea of money being everything, titillation, tantalising depictions of luxurious life, are some of the causes of this social malaise. A frustration on not being able to achieve the “good life” shown on T.V. and films, disillusionment resulting from unemployment, and the confusion resulting from an imposition of the Western concept of Broad-Mindedness on an ethnic culture based on respect for adults and women, Spiritualism, teachings of Sages, Gurus, and rich, diverse religious wisdom are all important reasons why there is a spurt in such crimes.
This obsession with gore, destruction, and domination over others is an integral part of our psyche and it has been there from primeval times. Sigmund Freud would label this part of the psyche as the Id, the monster within which is kept in chains by the Ego, the conscious principle and the Alter-Ego, the Supernatural Principle or that which goads our conscience. The heinous nature of the crimes involving Damini and now Gudiya are the result of a failed Conscience, a failed “Alter-Ego” which was not able to prick the perpetrators’ sense of humanity, and the “Ego” or the conscious principle, the policeman of our psyches. Speedy technological development, information surfeit,unemployment, lack of spiritual stimulation, and corresponding degradation of moral and ethical values in the society are some of the catalysts for such types of crimes in the society.
So, then what is it that keeps that monster in us chained at all times? I guess, a strong spiritual base coupled with an equipment of sound moral and ethical values, sound self esteem, a strong sense of “worth”, a strong family structure supported by a sound social web of relations, employment, and the general ability to do well in life are important factors. In many cases, confusion resulting from a migration from a more conservative culture in the rural areas to a suddenly more broadminded and liberated urban culture can stimulate that monster. We live in a Nation where in some rural areas, the Purdah System is still followed, a Nation where the daughter in law still touches the feet of her mother in law. Having lived in a culture of so many inhibitions norms, and purdah and caste restrictions, what happens when such a youth goes to the city? City life might appear to be more gregarious, promiscuous, and liberated to some and this is what stimulates their desire to share in the so called, “good life” promised by the fruits of advancement, technological excellence, and prosperity.
In some cases, an abusive childhood, exploitation by a bully during childhood, constant scolding by parents, lack of education, poverty, unemployment, alienation, oppressive casteism and the accompanied untouchability, a sense of being a pariah within the community are some more reasons behind people committing such crimes. Education based on sound moral and ethnic values is one of the antidotes to what is happening in our society today. Education means empowerment for everyone.This includes those who have an inclination to commit such heinous crimes. Another very important step that should be taken by those that matter is to provide good rural employment opportunities whether by setting up factories, or opening cooperative farming societies. More schools, colleges, hospitals, in rural areas will help curb rampant migration of people to the cities. Many young people migrate to the cities with the hope of fulfilling their “golden Dream” but this soon results in disillusionment and disappointment leading to frustration and poor self-esteem. Over-population, cramped living spaces in cities, presence of a floating population, all make it possible for the monster to break free from his bonds and commit his heart’s desire of crimes.
Psychologists have often stated that the people have the desire to show power over others. This is more the case with those who have been abused and bullied during childhood. Also repeat offenders become bolder each time they commit a crime and are let go on a bail, or are given a mild punishment, or are even let to go free because of lack of evidence because of shoddy investigation. It makes good sense, therefore to maintain a National Database for those who have been arrested for crimes against women and then let to go. A psychological profiling of such offenders should be done, and this should be put into a central database. If we can have UID cards, then why shouldn’t we have a central database for all first time offenders and even repeat offenders? Psychological profiling might help alert authorities about the offender’s future propensity to commit a heinous crime in the future! Whatever may be the case, it seems very clear that such crimes are the indications of a Nation undergoing the birth pangs of trying to find an identity for itself in times which are marked by advancement in technology, dissemination of information, the internet, promiscuity, gregariousness, and a change in perspective regarding what is right and what is not, what is cool and what is not!
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