India’s Destiny; Her Daughters’ Dreams
There is a story from the days of maharajas, princes who ruled provinces in India. Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre tell it in their book Freedom at Midnight. The story is about a contest that took place among a few maharajas. The challenge: who could deflower the most virgins in his province? Each conquest was to be marked by the taking of the female’s thin nose ring (symbolic of the wearer’s physical innocence). The prince who masterminded this contest sent courtiers throughout the villages of his lands in search of females to rape. The fact that this same prince was the winner was obvious because he owned more pounds of gold from melting thin nose rings than any of the other competitors.1 Deep within India’s history; deep within her culture, and her thoughts is a disregard and a disdain for the female. It is India’s national shame. It is an evil idea; evil ideas can only be contained for so long before they become evil actions. Evil actions destroy societies and countries.
In the past few months, India’s national shame has made headlines around the world. The headlines are not of the average rapes – as if there is an average rape – which reportedly takes place every twenty minutes in India.2 The only reason these rapes made news is because of the extreme brutalities of the crimes: a 23-year-old gang-raped so violently on a bus that the injuries kill her; a five-year-old held and raped by a neighbor for over 48 hours; a four-year-old who died of cardiac arrest after being raped;2 a fifteen-year-old gang-raped on her way back from school; 3 four school girls taken from a convent and raped, 4 and the list goes on. And these are only the reported cases. Many victims hide in fear of cultural shame. For a nation that seeks and holds the potential for a more relevant presence on the world stage, the treatment of our mothers, sisters, and daughters has made us a mockery among the nations. How a nation as spiritual as India can expect blessings from the Divine even as she continually rapes and kill the weakest within her is difficult to understand. India’s treatment of her daughters is a stench that rises to the heavens.
And how have we have participated? Every Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Sikh person, regardless of economic status, who has breathed a sigh of relief that a newborn is a boy and not a girl, every husband who has abused and belittled his wife for giving birth to a baby girl, every mother who has expressed a tenderness toward her sons to which her daughters will never be privy, every father who has expressed open disappointment and disdain at his daughter for the sin of being female, every Bollywood “item dance” that has presented the female body as a sensual object to be gloated and salivated over, every Indian within and without the land who has given silent consent to what we all know exists within our culture, we are all responsible.
Within India’s history of maharajas is also another story, a prouder story of a nation led by a simple man using simple methods to defeat one of the greatest powers in the world in her fight toward independence. It is a story that is celebrated in history books around the world; other nations have looked to Mahatma Gandhi and India as an inspiration. India once successfully rid herself of external oppressors; now, who will rise to rid us of the oppression that lies deep within us, the oppression and destruction of our own daughters? For as long as our females are violated and killed, for as long as the weakest among us cannot live in safety, we will remain a nation from which divine blessings are withheld.
Each day another page in India’s story is written; the pages keep turning. Bombay Teen Challenge dreams of a chapter which will tell the story of the day that India rescued her daughters from cultural and physical cages, rescued them to live the lives that their Creator intended for them to live. Till that chapter is written, our staff will continue to walk the dirty lanes of Kamathipura where India’s daughters whimper in cages, where they are raped repeatedly and brutally each night; they will continue to sit next to women and girls whose every hope has been destroyed, comfort them, and dream with them of a chapter titled “The Day India Set Beautiful Free.”
Written by Jooly Philip
1. Collins, Larry and Dominique Lapierre. Freedom at Midnight. London: HarberCollinsPublishers, 1997. 190-191. Book.
2. http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Where-rapists-roam-free/Article1-1. 942211.aspx