Report By: Nina Rai
Delhi, Jan. 7, 2013
Indian spiritual guru Asaram Bapu on Monday sparked off a major controversy by blaming the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim for her horrific ordeal, saying she should have begged the culprits for mercy instead of putting up a fierce fight.
Giving bizarre advice to the gang-rape brave-heart "Nirbhaya," Gujarat-based, self-proclaimed god-man Asaram Bapu says she should have pleaded with the culprits for mercy by making one of them her brother and entreating for protection.
According to Bapu, in the first place "Nirbhaya" and her boyfriend should not have boarded the private bus on the night of Dec. 16, after watching a late night show at a nearby theatre. This, in his opinion, was her first mistake.
Her second mistake, the yoga guru says, is that after getting into the bus, when the six drunken men started misbehaving with her, she should not have fought against the group. Instead she should have urged them to stop.
By fighting fiercely she invited the subsequent horrific ordeal upon herself, says Bapu. In his opinion, the late 23-year-old physiotherapy student from Bihar is as guilty as those who perpetuated the barbaric sexual assault on her.
Media in India has quoted the spiritual guru as saying: "Only five-six people are not the culprits. The victim daughter is as guilty as her rapists ... She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop... This could have saved her dignity and life."
"Can one hand clap? I don't think so," is Asaram Bapu’s illogical conjecture. Not just satisfied with this sermon, the spiritual guru said “she should have taken God's name and held their hands and feet ... Then the misconduct wouldn't have happened.” The god-man’s remarks have naturally raised the ire of women’s groups and sparked denunciation from across the political spectrum.
The principal opposition party BJP’s spokesperson called the remarks as "regrettable, deeply disturbing and painful." He further said: "For him to make the statement in relation to a crime which has shocked the conscience of the country is not only unfortunate but deeply regrettable." Rashid Alvi, Congress spokesperson, urged religious leaders to give serious thought to their words before they speak out.
Asaram Bapu’s remarks comes at a time when the entire nation has been in mourning over the victim's death and protesting all over for more stringent rape laws and fast-track courts to bring to book all those responsible for crimes against women. Currently five of the culprits in the gang-rape case are facing trial, with the sixth accused being tried separately, since he is a juvenile.
This is a very critical time for India, with its collective conscience very badly shaken. Demands are being made incessantly and vociferously by protesters, cutting across various strata of society, for stringent laws to tackle crimes against women and children. Many are even demanding barbaric punishments for heinous crimes like rape.
Check out one gory suggestion made by an angry protester, Anushka: “If you ask me don’t hang them, just cut their arms and legs and let them live. If you hang them then the pain is only for few minutes than they will die, so let them alive and cut their arms and legs.”
During this highly sensitive time, instead of taking up for women in general and empathizing with the actions of a brave young woman who fought valiantly against six drunken hooligans in a moving bus, Bapu, a self-appointed religious leader, has taken on the garb of a guardian of society.
Bapu has gone so far as to apportion blame on the late victim for boarding the bus, which he has absolutely no business doing. Its ironic why these kind of spiritual leaders do not sermonize the culprits and urge them to respect and rever women-folk, a principle also enshrined in the ancient Hindu scriptures.
The sad reality is that this kind of gender bias has always been prevalent in Indian society. The ghastly Delhi gang-rape incident has only brought to the fore the deep-seated chauvinist mentality hidden under the folds of modern society.
It has also exposed the sick, sexist and unholy mentality of some of the so-called enlightened spiritual gurus swarming India. Not only are the religious leaders heavily gender-biased, even certain sections of the political class are no different in the matter.
The pronouncements of some politicians with regard to the Delhi gang-rape case have to be read to be believed. It reeks of nothing short of patronizing arrogance and male superiority. Day in and day out, one by one, the media exposes the low mentality of the class wielding power in high places.
However, to tackle the menace of widespread crimes against women in India, there are two critical aspects which the government needs to focus on, so as to undertake it on a war footing. The first one is bringing the burgeoning Indian population under control, and the second is prioritizing education.
Effective dissemination of knowledge to every nook and corner of the country will go a long way in transforming the feudal mindsets of people. Unless and until these twin issues are tackled at the grass-roots level, all other measures undertaken by the authorities will prove to be nothing short of cosmetic and short-term fixes.
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