Breaking Down the Challenge

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Educating a nation of over a billion and changing its mindset towards the vulnerable within a lifetime is a mammoth mission even in theory, leave aside the logistical impracticality of the exercise.

What adds to the futility is the truth that barely any perpetrator of violence against the weak is ever unaware of the impropriety, legal as well as moral, of his act.

After all, how impossible can it be even for the degenerates to know that a fellow individual’s fundamental right to a free and secure existence cannot be subject to gender, physical appearance and social identity - both within the warm comfort of a home and the rightful place on the streets, at any hour of the day?

And yet, the recent horrific incident in New Delhi, which led to the painful death of a young dream and protests of unprecedented intensity across the nation, was just another act of violence against the vulnerable in India. News outlets are still replete with reports of India being brought to her knees ever more forcibly by a dark blanket of psychological and physical mayhem against minors, women and other vulnerable.

Clearly, the menace is spreading not as much because of lack of good judgment within criminals as it is because of the absolute absence of stern response by the society.

And with response, I don’t mean a holistic response that calls for the evolution of minds, but a calibrated, progressive response that includes actions undertaken simultaneously by police (crime prevention and future deterrence), psychologists (breakdown of criminal mind, both of prospective and arrested criminals, educating society based on the studies conducted and counseling the victims) and the judiciary (strengthening of laws and the legal procedure).

The police needs to be forced to undertake more patrolling, especially about crime-prone neighbourhoods and at evening and nights. At the same time, it needs to make use of technology to not only keep its ears and eyes on ground but also to be accessible easily and quickly. Unanswered calls and emails, and delayed actions in preventing crimes by the police, for example, should be made a cognizable crime.

That brings judiciary into the conversation. Laws and the legal procedure – however tardy and beyond reach of common people – are presently aimed at just criminals and their acts. The need of the hour is to use the same law to bring to book derelict police officials too. Any policeman who does not provide every possible security to the vulnerable and support to victims of crime should be considered an indirect/bystander partner in crime by the law of the land. Nothing would make law run quite like running law enforcers.

Also, whenever multiple perpetrators are involved, the quantum of punishment should be exponentially greater; pack of wolves, in disguise, attacking a weak human on our own streets is not at all acceptable.

The Indian state needs to quickly realize that the common thread that can bind – in the most helpful way – the victim, the criminal, law and the law enforcers is an expert entity called psychologist. They should be remembered not only during an episode of distress, but should be mandatorily deployed at all universities and organisations that host India’s tomorrow. Having intensive counseling with them, for instance, should be made a gradable activity in universities for young girls.

None of that would succeed unless there is also an unceasing blitzkrieg of public awareness campaigns on behalf of government, law enforcing machinery and media.

The principal objective of the continuous campaign should to inform citizens about their rights, provide victims easy access to information pertaining to immediate social-medical support and legal redressal and, significantly, name and shame the perpetrators of the crime.

The idea is not to go for the Utopian whole hog at one go, and see the effort dissipate under the weight of the task. The need of the hour is to break down the challenge into manageable steps. Come let’s all join hands to hit back, one blow at a time.

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