At the time of writing this, four women have been awarded the Nobel Prize in the fields of Chemistry, Literature and Physics. This is an anomaly considering that the previous years there have been far fewer women winning and that the field of Physics has only four Nobel laureates so far. The historic gender disparity in the Nobel Prize winners has been attributed to the low presence of women in the respective fields, a problem perpetuated by the existing norms of patriarchy then and now[1].

The first thing that came across to my mind as these wins are being publicized is that, “Oh there you go, a patch-up operation post the #MeToo movement”. As a cisgender man my initial reaction took me by surprise, as I anticipated that these awards had a lesser meaning because they seemed to be given to women as a reaction to their under representation in the Nobels. I saw the women getting the Nobels as being symbolic and I imagined the work of someone more deserving being ignored. My imagination, conditioned through years of bias, wanted the people to be men.

The recognition of women in their respective fields through the lens of the Nobel prizes emancipates countless women across the world to aspire for similar meritorious recognition. But such a movement needs consistency rather than figurehead prizes handed out because of political backlash. This means that the Nobel Prize Committee should be held accountable for any future gender disparity as it puts the legitimacy of the prizes itself at stake[2].

This consistency can have more conversations built around it with respect to gender identities (the idea of a man's worth being built on external validation) and racial representation, as most of the prizes still go to the white men and women. There is a long way to go in all fields from the arts to the academia for a more universal representation in line with the diversity of the real world, but the first step is always is to recognize the problem. In this context this year's women Nobel Prize winners represent both a victory of academic eminence and gender politics, a victory that should not be forgotten anytime soon.

[1] This chicken and egg problem also exists with the racial disparity in the Nobels. An argument can be made that eminent Universities are situated only in the West, an argument that conveniently ignores Colonialism and other historic oppressions over which current civilizations have been built.

[2] The same goes with the Oscars post the gender and race diversity controversies. Though this year's Oscars weren't that different from the years before, any change that comes up must be consistent and not a one-off response with a handful of prizes given to women and people of color.

#gender #race #equality #colonialism

All four of the rape/murder accused in the Hyderabad rape case have been killed and that too at the scene of the crime. Four uneducated lorry drivers/cleaners who thought burning a body will absolve them of the crime. CCTVs, phone records and police investigation are alien things for them, even the flimsy Telugu film media should have been out of their reach to not consider better ways to hide their crimes. Why is this important? Hiding a crime shows that the intent was deliberate and the guilt+consequence of getting caught. Their crude morality at least allowed for the hiding from their crimes whereas in the 'encounter', the police do not have that operation of defense. They could kill and they did, the law does not matter. Nothing matters at all because it is state-sponsored anarchy and it has its own rewards.

What is rape? Let us not look at the word itself, as with all its weight and historical baggage it loses its meaning, Rape is the forcible sexual penetration of a person. In this case the killers tooks turns in raping the victim and in the process she died and they burned her body to hide the evidence. All this is hypothesis, we do not know if it is the rapists who killed the veterinarian doctor, it could've been a simple case of framed killers. There have been an umpteen number of cases where the accused were convicted of sexual crimes they did not commit, like the Ayesha Miran or the the Ryan International cases. We will never know because here the accused were 'encountered' before the court of law could examine the minutiae of the case.

Is this justice in a modern, democratic nation aiming to conquer the world and then Mars? The reactions of the public show that the legislative, the executive and the judiciary were all afraid of the consequences. Baying for the blood of the rapists (whoever they are. After the death of the accused and with no official sentence, we will never know who the official perpetrators of the crime are, just assumed suspects) the people and consequently the media have applied pressure on the political, police and judicial frameworks, which must've led to the collective shitting of pants in the backstages. Note that the second-in-command in the Telangana State called for a swift action against the accused and the Chief Minister of the State and the Prime Minister of the country have both been silent on the issue.

reality is just too complicated for anyone to understand, let alone for politicians to control. In response, those who aspire to power create simple narratives for the populace to buy into, in order to make sense of the world, and make it easier to control. In the process of creating this new 'map' the narrative bears little, or no resemblance to what is actually going on. Lies are built on lies, which are built on more lies. The delusion becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and the fakeness was accepted by everyone as real. This is Hypernormalisation.

Let us come to the issue of the Telangana Police. The man behind the press meet and hence the face of everything, Police Commissioner Sajjanar was previously also a part of an extrajudicial killing in 2008, for which he was hailed as a hero. And today, he's smiling before the media again, proud that he is getting away with it for the third time. And he will get away with it, he already escaped public scrutiny now, who cares about what the other institutions in the governmental framework think? The people have come out with flowers and appreciation all over crime scene and the social media. But it also shows the short-term thinking of the mob, they have already forgotten that the police apathy on the day of the veterinarian's kidnap where they assumed that she must have “eloped” with somebody. Before they woke up the deed has been done and in the posthumus responsibility towards their duty they shot dead the accused. This is a way of saving their skin but they have zero regard for the dead girl or the families of the rapists. The cops here are the worst killers as they show the duplicity of the people in power – their acts can do not go through the same scrutiny as the alleged criminal's and they get to roam around free in a society that is corrupt across various levels. Remember, the accused have been 'dealt' with quickly because they were poor, the rich live in their own universe.A question to consider is the number of politicians in the parliament accused of rape.

This mode of justice is appreciated by everyone, but it is also a quick fix. Opposing the judgement meted to them does not mean supporting the act of rape, the fact that this very argument was taken up says something about the people of this country. Though on one hand the attention that this act has put out on the general sexual violence that happens around the country it also shows that the people are ill equipped to handle such a moral dilemma. This deteriorating moral health can reflect upon other areas of living as well, such as the ossification of the discrimination against muslims as seen in the Citizenship Amendment Bill that has been tabled in the Parliament today. It seems like it is such a huge step between the rape of a woman, punishment and the ghettoization of a minority but the vision for us is here to see. We saw this happening several times over the past decade: where the quality of protests, the quality of debate we engaged in and the solutions we saught are are all the mistakes that have led us to this point.

As a nation we have not questioned all the little wrongs that have happened over the course of time. We raised our candles and black dots during the Nirbhaya rape case and demanded that the guilty be hanged, but we did not ask why these rapists committed that crime in the first place. We demand that Pakistan be blown to smithereens or that people should stand up for the national anthem before a leave-your-brain-at-home Bollywood movie titillates on screen. The discourse has become simplistic and we crave for solutions like they provide in the cinema. Our lives are too shallow to understand that as humans our lives are complex and issues have multiple dimensions which can only be understood in time. But no, shoot the culprit and move on. Tweet and sleep. This is what we have been reduced to, walled in our own echo chambers we have no way of escaping.

The government has escaped scrutiny, the judges need not deliver justice and the police have done their job. The biggest losers in all this is us, the people. We have been hoodwinked yet again and there is sadly no voice of reason amongst us. The need of the hour is focus on where this vacuity of morality comes from – which caused both the rape and the snap judgement. Giving the people a moral compass is an intagible effect that the State should work upon and so far its version of religion, ethics and propoganda do not seem to be working. This requires going back to the drawing board and working on the problems bottom-up, because in addresssing these problems lies the future of the country. Either for boom or for bust.

#rape #India #education #gender

There is a new rape in the country that has become a super-hit. A 26 year old woman was gangraped and killed in a 1.5 hour duration after which her body was burnt and left under a bridge. The police were slow to react to the initial complaint raised by the victim's family but by the time the news came out and became sensationalized, the police started sing praise to themselves at catching the culprits so quickly. The suspects, all between the ages of 20 and 26 are your not so educated, village bumbles who drink and drive lorries at high speed along the highways. It's the faceless mass that makes most of India, the shadow people we wish could be richer, better and earn our country more respect.

The reaction to the rape has raised some serious concerns. The health of the mob can be seen in the nature of dissent they put up and here they are nothing short of being barbaric. There are calls for open castration, public hanging or burning the suspected straight away, without giving any recourse for due judicial process. The second-in-command in the State legislature himself called for a quick hanging of the suspects, which shows that 'we the people' have failed somewhere in our lessons of restraint, justness and mental clarity. Between the famous Nirbhaya case and today, there have been thousands of rapes that have adorned the newspapers and public memory. Much has been talked about the safety of women in the society and there have been many publications in the “do not dress like a slut” school of thought. There have been angry calls for suspects to be hanged across the country and often there is a trivia snippet that comes up, stating how the glorious women loving nations of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the UAE treat their rapists to public deaths and chemical castrations.

This is a thirst for blood that we have seen elsewhere, in decimating internal enemies, the perceived outside enemies, religious detractors, inter-communal and inter community marriages..the list is endless, we all want to hang and kill these criminals. We want to police the women, know their locations and tell them not to go out because, hey, men will come and rape you and even if you are my sister or mother, what can be said of your character if you are raped at 9 in the night? Were you trying to elope with someone? What is a woman doing alone outside at 9 in the night? The woman should arm herself with pepper spray and krav maga skills. The reaction to this is now binary: control the women and kill the men, which seems to me a very patriarchal reaction to a problem that has become pervasive throughout the society not overnight but over decades of thoughtlessness and prejudice.

Marital rape in India is not a crime. A woman who is raped within the dimensions of a state sanctioned relationship then it is not a problem, because here the woman is the property of a man. Love marriages in India are a rarity and so are inter-communal marraiges. Marriages usually are alliances between families where it is the responsibility of the men in the family to marry a woman off – this liability also contributes to the skewed sex ratio and men favouring that happens all across India. Our movies have heroes overrepresented and women as sex dolls or mothers, our politics sees no independent women making their mark in the polls, wives, sisters and mistresses of other famous men finding their way through the electorate. It is the same country where menstruation is still a subject of taboo and let us not even talk about sex.

The reaction of the Indian public and in consequence the State always has been to call out for more policing and more separation of the sexes. Different schools, different places to sit in public transportation, different attitudes when it comes to sex and choosing partners and calling for more conservatism in the name of tradition – these are all part of the circular logic of patriarchy that makes the gender divide deeper in India. The logic is as follows, we cannot allow women more freedom because otherwise they will not be safe and so women should not expect more freedom. Online forums are full of people wanting to know of defenses for their sisters and girlfriends, some being happy about emigration and the others wondering which would be the best place to emigrate, This again is a very middle-class, upper caste discourse, the most disadvantaged do not have access to the language and tools of modern discourse, their silence is taken as their assent and the people who make the loudest noise have their voice heard.

It is not the women who have to take care but it is them men that have to be taught how to care. There is no sexual education and no information available about sexual consent. This is completely absent from public discourse, because women are at the end of the day the property of men. There are two routes for changing this – one, an organic women's movement that calls for greater emancipation and representation and two, regular education and re-education of sexual identities and sexualities in the public sphere. What the Hyderabad rape signifies is the inaccess to women – and inacess exists because women were not independent in the first place and men believe that it is their right to have their share of women. Also the reaction to the rape skews the fact that most of the perpetrators of rape happen to be someone known to the victim, which makes reporting these cases even harder and also the brutality of sexual trauma goes unnoticed as there no burnt bodies and Muslim men in the accused.

The second problem in the Hyderabad narrative is the call for instant killing of the accused. At this point no one knows what has happened and the trial is mostly being conducted through the traditional and social media. One part of the controversy that one of the main accused is Muslim can be put to rest. He is one of the four accused, all others who are Hindus by name. This is exactly proportional to the religious demographic of India, in essence they resemble India in their plurality of violence. At the end of the day, these accused are people. They have committed a crime which is not viable in a society but their motivations and intent to cause harm are all human. Why would someone be driven to do such a thing? How can we prevent these atrocities in the future are all questions to which these accused have the answer to, atleast in part. Policing further and increasing surveillance only stands as a sign that these people have succesfully managed to terrorize the society, which shows how shaky its roots have been in the first place.

Demanding for a public hanging/burning only makes such a behaviour acceptable in the minds of the populace. What the State can do, even mob justice can do and the institutionalizing violence only breeds more violence in other forms. Adherence to the law of the land and due process also spills in other aspects of living, but the call for violence is a problematic one as it shows that in the case of apocalyptic institutional failure, mob justice will involve public killings and burnings. Mahabubnagar, the district all the accused come from is one of the backward districts in the state of Telangana and according to the 2011 census has a literacy rate of 55%, with female literacy hovering around 44%. It is a rural district with little in the name of industry or employment opportunities. All the four worked with lorries as drivers or cleaners, meaning they would not have earned more than Rs.10000 ($140),, which is a pittance. They are not killers with intent but killers made possible by design, they are the shadow people we are all afraid of the – the poor, the uneducated and the ones for who modernity is still out of reach. Burning them, means burning the shadow people. Instead all efforts should be put in demonstrating that our tax money be used for education, for the upliftment of the rural poor than stigmatizing them further and driving them into cities where they do not belong.

The failure is not of the four accused but of the society as a whole. One might as well burn the society while they are at it, but to remember what the man who smiles on every Indian currency note once said, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

#HyderabadHorror #Rape #Gender #India