Even though political analysts, women rights activists and the public congratulate Kerala police, the Government and the friends, well-wishers and relatives of the victim in the abduction case for their determination to bring the culprits to book, several questions and anxieties come into one’s mind. Yes, as analysts have rightly observed, the probe and the consequent booking of an influential figure have brought about some respite to the crime-torn population. But will this really act as a game changer is the immediate question that arises.
The probe by Kerala police in the case, without any doubt, deserves a big round of applause, especially at a time when safety of women and other relatively vulnerable sections in society is increasingly under threat. It would be more illustrious if the case paves way for effective implementation of fast track courts for the cases involving sensitive issues such as sexual harassment and rape. Kerala is one among the States’ where an exponential growth of sexual harassment incidents are witnessed.
It is a shame for a State which enjoys a relatively elevated average intelligence, education and employment to witness such incidents on a daily basis. And it is nothing but a shared crime to deny justice to people who are poor, powerless and have long been marginalised. Justice has to be just. We cannot forget the fact that victims of the Suryanelli and Vithura cases, Jisha, Soumya and thousands of other unknown victims of sexual aggression have long been waiting for their share of justice.
The next anxiety is about the Malayali society’s double standard and immaturity when it comes to dealing with sensitive issues. According to Indian justice system, every citizen enjoys the right to be represented by a lawyer at the court during the time of prosecution, no matter the individual is the petitioner or the accused. And it is the legitimate right of the individual to be treated as accused during the time of prosecution until the case is proven. In actor Dileep’s case, the incidents those occurred in the days those followed his arrest, clearly indicate that the public have conveniently forgotten all these standards and norms. The public outrage at his business establishments and against the prosecution lawyer have to be seen in this light.
Thirdly, it took the Malayalam film fraternity these many years to finally constitute an organisation exclusively for womenfolk in the industry which is a surprise and a shame. The movie industry here has never been exempted from exploitation on the basis of gender. Like any other domain, women have long been denied equal status and remuneration. Stories of severe exploitation, objectification and terrorisation have always emerged. The industry has always been rich with mighty, self-esteemed super women. Even then, it took them this long to organise to voice their concerns and it can only be seen as a paradox. Anyhow, the recent constitution of ‘Women in Cinema Collective’ is a clear sign that these women have finally recognised the need to be grouped to voice their concerns without fear. Better late than never!
However the overall picture renders hope. As poet Sugathakumari said in a TV conversation, society’s journey from crimes to more crimes is indeed frightening. But we could ensure justice to at least one girl is laudable. Let us hope for a future where offenders are rightly and timely punished.