An Open Letter To India’s So-Called Moral Police

In a civilized society any dispute on a controversial depiction or content of a work of art can be dealt with through dialogue and consultation with experts in the field rather than left to self-appointed moral police employing coercive means.

I am shocked. Outraged. Angered. Furious. And you must be wondering why.

Well, let me enlighten you.

A few days back, reports had emerged in the national media that a girl had been molested, that too in full public view by a group of 30 (The exact number of men varies from channel to channel) men in front of a posh nightclub in the city of Guwahati in the state of Assam, India.

Well, you’d be wondering now. Molestations are reported as a part and parcel of every newspaper’s local news pages right? And besides, there are far worse reports of women getting abducted, tortured, beaten, abused, raped, have acid thrown at them, burned, murdered and what not, and yet no one complains?

What’s the big deal to it?

It is a big deal, a big fucking deal. And this is why.

In a civilized society any dispute on a controversial depiction or content of a work of art can be dealt with through dialogue and consultation with experts in the field rather than left to self-appointed moral police employing coercive means.

This poor, defenseless, 16-year-old, that’s right, she’s just a minor, had to suffer the brutal agony of having her ordeal of having her modesty outraged by this bunch of, uncouth, uncultured, disrespectful barbarians for posterity thanks to some idiots, who instead of rescuing her straight away, spent their time in making a video of it instead.

Needless to say, I’m too disgusted and nauseous just to have read about it. I dread to think what the actual video could be like going by the descriptions of it quoted in news channels.

And what do these brain dead morons who recorded it and their defenders have to say for themselves for their lack of ethics?

They say that they were outnumbered. That the offender’s would have gotten away had the video not been recorded. That there were others who turned a blind eye to her plight, as she was manhandled, groped, and almost stripped by these savages.

To these idiots, what do you know of a trauma that a woman faces when she’s molested? What do you know of the feeling of intense humiliation when she’s touched inappropriately by someone? What do they know of her despair when someone passes lewd comments at her? What do they know about it?

It’s easy to say that the girl had no business being near the bar and wash your hands off it. To say that she invited it upon herself by dressing provocatively. That her bar hopping habits point to an inherent lack of character, culture and values.

Who are these people kidding. They are just taking vicarious pleasure at seeing someone suffer for living life on their own terms while not having the stomach themselves to be true to themselves.

To such people, I would like to ask you, are you all really such cowards? Had it been your own mother, wife, sister, or daughter being subjected to the same, would you have idly looked on as these people had their way with her?

And what about you, the so called “Moral Guardians” of our country? Yes, you who beat up women just because they are in a pub having a nice time just keeping to themselves and socializing over a few drinks? You, who beat up and threaten lovers who committed the crime of just holding their hands? And what about those policemen who go around wielding Hockey sticks, thrashing people as they wish, defaming the characters of some people who are caught unawares and labelled as “call girls” and “prostitutes” who were rescued?

If you think that beating up others, especially defenseless women is justified in the name of preserving India‘s heritage and culture, you really need to stop calling yourselves men. Or even women for that matter.

We have heard stories of the great hero of the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata, Bhishma, who famously met his doom by refusing to even defend himself against Sikhandin for he had been a woman in his past life.

And yet here we are, making women suffer in this lifetime itself.

Hadn’t Jesus Christ said, “Judge not lest ye be judged?”

Who are we to accuse someone of being shameless and characterless? Can we look at ourselves in the mirror and say that we are blameless and have never committed even act that ought to shame us, if it were – God Forbid – be revealed in public?

Now tell me, those who say that the girl deserved it, can you really cite the girl’s character as an excuse for these ruffians to have misbehaved with her?

And what about our justice system? What about those policemen who “rescued” her, but only arrested 3 or 4 them, letting the others go, and didn’t do anything until the video became public? Was it really necessary to have a scenario where bill boards have to erected to ask people to come forward and arrest the rest of them?

And what about our politicians who don’t even have the guts to take up the cause of the safety of women in India? Why aren’t they standing up to the challenge of fighting against the scourge of “moral policing””? Why can’t they just say “Enough is enough” and stop all this nonsense of the Khap Panchayats, of Hooligans masquerading in the name of some God who disrupt other people’s private lives? Why can’t they stop such people from attacking shops just to destroy Valentine’s Day cards, and punishing the women who are victimized and not their aggressors?

And what do we have to say about ourselves? Why are we letting such heinous crimes become a part and parcel of our lives? Why do we have to take a “chalta hai” attitude towards everything?

We as Indians like to take pride in our statistics. That we are a rising country. Of our GDP growth rate. Of our burgeoning population. Of our increasingly young and talented population.

Well, we need to face some hard facts. That India is also a hub for crimes against women. That we rank alongside the most backward of nations when it comes to such matters.

For God‘s sake. Let’s end this nonsense. This needs to stop. NOW.

About Vinayak Prabhu 19 Articles
Change cant be given to you everytime. You yourself must bring change. A Student at the Manipal Institute of Technology
  • ra

    Read the beginning. I actually found this sentiment very unfair. You cant call people cowards for not stepping in and risking their lives. They did what they could do and the video is going to help that girl press charges. Methinks the author should get off his high horse. One could throw the same pointed questions at him – what do you know about how it feels to do something heroic that can leave you permantantly injured?

    • Vinayak Prabhu

      Dear Ra,

      In answer to your question I have rescued a cousin of mine who was nearly caught unawares when some pervert tried to enter the ladies’ room.

      So please, take your cynicism somewhere else.

  • i am afraid we will have to look at how we treat our women as a society. we either look at them as deities or objectify their bodies. When a 10 year old boy is conditioned to think that sheila’s jawani and munni’s badnami are up for ogling, you can imagine what his behaviour towards women will be when he grows up. Irrespective of what a girl wears or how she behaves no human being has a right to violate her dignity. Men will have to be taught that they themselves are responsible for their actions instead of girls being told that they will have to conform to bogus standards of public decency and morality or risk getting raped or molested….

  • Kanwar Singh

    For once after a long long time a really worthwhile article.  But let’s be realistic, the “moral” police are nothing but a bunch of douchebags wanting some publicity and giving extra “power” to a cop is like making him into a bigger small dog.  ONe that does not it’s place but will keep barking and biting until someone kicks them back.  It’s disgusting watching news of these girls getting assaulted and people do nothing but just sit and watch.  But then again it’s not just girls, people there will stand an watch for anyone and anything. 

    • I wrote about this last night as well “I do not advocate westernistion or what is popularly termed globalisation, yes I am one of those conservatives, who thinks India’s generation next needs to retain its own traditions and culture. But what I do not understand is, which Indian tradition calls for the repression of women? What is modernsiation threatening?  Isn’t Indian culture something ‘higher’ like art, literature, architecture, religion, mythology….? Pub culture does not affect that, does it?”

      Read more http://manipalblog.com/2012/07/the-indian-taliban-celebrating-65-years-of-freedom/