ShameON! ‘shame’ is a very human attribute. Indeed, we have been put on through a system of ‘shame’ and fear to ensure that the social eco system remains very human. From the childhood, the female child is taught to remain self-conscious through continuous preaching about right seating posture, right way to walk, to remain ‘untouched’ from other gender ect. But interestingly, the male child in India is encouraged to be more radical and ‘outspoken’, which depicts the prodigal symbolism of a powerful and aggressive man in making! He is encouraged to compete, fight to go ahead… and nobody preaches them on ‘right seating position’ (other than shaming him for scoring low in exam!). So, eventually, the child becomes a man and he is not self-conscious about his ‘de-shaped’ appearance or aggressive nature towards female; but he is being aware of other gender’s ‘shame points’. In a report at TOI (2007) it was observed that over 53% children in India face sexual abuse! Am sure, the number must have been considerably gone up now. Unfortunately, a few years back, proving sexual molestation was a gigantic task cause in many cases evidences were erased and cleansed. But today, the youth in India are equipped with smart technologies which is indeed a boon . They are also quick thinkers, impulsive decision makers and socially connected.
Two of my Facebook screen captures show how shaming the molesters and sexual offenders in social media can effect the culprits and their social status (if they are well placed or mature enough to understand the implication of being defamed in public).
Also, the video posted online brought in a new way of exposing the molesters:
Also, the viral video showing how the two brave girls beating up molesters became a rage, online:
Recently, Govt. of India declared that it has a plan to create an all India registry for child molesters that will name and shame them. Laudable approach but requires imploration to find its impact. In the year 2013 Delhi Police on put out names of all sexual offenders who have been convicted from 1983 onwards on its website. The list, put up by the crime branch, has over 600 names on it. Well, after that the number of rapes have not gone down anyway! Why, even after public shaming the incidents are taking place?
Though the argue over the facts and figures on whether rape is an urban phenomenon or not, but all the recent incidents which appeared in media seems to be largely focused towards one prominent direction: most of the culprits are from the lower strata of the society (urban or rural). Which means, they might not have much to lose even if their photos and activities appear online (a social class, who are not bothered/ being part of digital revolution)! Neither their parents or partners will ever believe that the offenders indeed were the main culprit (in the case of Delhi Gang rape accused) rather they will strongly argue that the men were ‘framed’ because he belonged to the lower part of the social eco system! According to a blog, the mother of Delhi rape accused stated “No woman, nobody, ever complained to me even in a dream that my son had harassed a woman” she said and started sobbing. The neighbors of the accuse's family stated that “Thora bohot aadmi log ka haath tou lag jaata hain,", As if men’s hands were naturally made to beat women!
Over it, with the paradoxical democracy, that India faces today the political game makers will skew it toward their benefit and divide the people in multiple variants (caste, economy, region and religion). Over it, the human rights activists will jump in to save the culprits citing their family and economic status.
Indian judiciary is magically slow decision maker. A case, in average takes more than a decade to close if one fights well through the loopholes of judiciary system. It took 14 years after schoolgirl Hetal Parekh's rape and murder for the man held responsible, Dhananjoy Chatterjee, to be brought to justice. Part of the reason was that the government had apparently forgotten about the case for a decade (the Indian Express report, 2012)! Over it, there are multiple channels to appeal. Till the verdict is announced one is supposed to be considered as ‘not guilty’. Hence, I wonder how many of ‘child molesters’ are actually declared by Indian court as so, to be listed. Meanwhile, the victim and her parents are shamed on due to over-glaring media attention! In case of Hetal Parekh, the parents went underground to avoid media and curious people. The Telegraph in the year 2004 wrote “their flat at Jamuna Mahal, an apartment block in Santa Cruz East where Nagardas Parekh and his wife have lived for 13 years since Hetal’s death, has been off limits for visitors from soon after the verdict. But to avoid the world’s eyes and the media glare, the elderly couple have now fled to an undisclosed destination.” So, who’s Shamed? The victim, their parents or the accused? Why the accused (male gender, mostly) are proud enough to appear in front of camera, pose and talk aloud about their crime and still accuse victim that it was her fault “the girl who roams around at night is not a good girl” (delhi gang rape accused commented in the documentary). The shame of being raped is so deep that many victims go underground or commits suicides. The only case in recent years where a victim was bold enough to appear in front of camera and fight was Suzette Jordan, the ‘park street rape victim’. Her fight was exemplary where even the locally popular female political leader (Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar) tagged her as prostitute!
The ‘shaming’, if implied in a balanced social eco system works wonder, cause it can curb criminal offences at large (specially sexual offenders from higher social strata), but if, the criminal has ‘nothing to lose’ from humiliation and in turn becomes famous/ infamous with over pouring media attention (which even many terrorist groups look for) with family support (who claims conspiracy for framing the ‘grassroot’) and sluggish judiciary system (which can keep a criminal safely guarded in jail at tax payers expanses for several years) then there is a chance that the same can boomerang and in turn try to deface the victims (who is being taught to ‘be aware of their status in society as a female’) and their immediate family (effecting the parents and other siblings of the victim). The recent whatsapp videos shared by criminals themselves prove that the social shaming do have a gender bias in India (the men clearly showed their faces, smiled at camera and gang-raped the victim.. over it shared the video at whatsapp!
But, digitally putting up photos and videos of the culprits indeed is a good tool to expose the individuals to the society and in turn curb them from further such activities.