The Mumbai gangrape isn’t an indicator of how India, or its cities, are unsafe for women. Rather, it’s an indicator that Indians, as a society, do not have respect for each other. This is my rant, so here goes.
Stop trying to blame the law or the government for not protecting women (in India). Laws can’t do anything when people don’t respect them.
Don’t agree that a majority of Indians don’t respect the law? Just go for a drive and see how many people follow traffic rules (speed limit, seat belt, lane driving, right of way, traffic lights, no horn zones, zebra crossing, etc).
This is a country where sisters tie rakhi around a brother’s wrist and ask for their protection and not their respect. This is a country where parents talk about gender equality and then come back to their homes and tell their son, “You need to study hard and become something. It’s not as important for your sister to do so because she’s a girl but you, you’re a boy.”
This is also a country where gender roles are so heavily enforced that there is no room for gender non-conformity. Where a masculine girl and a feminine boy are ridiculed and bullied. Where a boy with girlfriends is a stud, but a girl with multiple male friends is a slut. Where women are told to ignore catcalling (inke muh na lago) and men are encouraged to objectify women (item numbers). Where a majority of tv serials perpetuate gender stereotyping and an empowered woman is an anomaly rather than a rule in those serials.
This is a country where people preach equality a lot, but practice it rarely. And the few who raise their voice are silenced by, “Is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta” and “tu badlega? Akela? Mr Rang De Basanti.”
Each and every citizen of this country needs to hold themselves accountable for how others, and not just women, are treated in this country. Respect yourselves, your fellow humans, your shared spaces, and your privileges. Respect for law will come automatically.