Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Shweta Basu scandal shames me. Here's why.

I remember the movie Makdee vividly. I remember being in awe of the little girl delivering such a good performance. I remember her as the bubbly kid in Kahani Ghar Ghar ki and Kutumb and Iqbal, and I was no less than shocked when I heard the news of her being involved in the sex scandal. I am truly ashamed of what happened. Not because what she did, but because of what we did to her.

Marvel at the irony. A girl with promising talent turned out to be a woman who had to sell her body for money. Indeed the choice she made in desperation were wrong. But is she to be blamed alone? Why did the profession of prostitution lure her? Its because beyond the curtains of the high and mighty Indian values, morality and culture, lies an ugly world of hypocrisy, exploitation, lust, violence and perversity. The world which still treats women as objects of sexual satisfaction and household maids. Would prostitution thrive as a profession if every man was as faithful and holy as he proclaims to be? Every evil exists in the society because it is allowed to. Prostitution, sex trade, human trafficking, drug abuse, they are all, the illegitimate children of society. The society has given birth to them, the society sustains them, albeit secretly but will never own it up. Our roots as a culture have rotten and decayed. We are sustaining an illusion by the convenience of the option to ignore.

Indeed that has become the hallmark of us. We always chose to ignore and yet we never fail to judge. Just to cash on the sensationalism of this piece of news, the media without a trace of conscience and sensitivity splattered Basu's name all over the news papers and tv channels. What about the men who were her clients? What about the man she was caught with? Where are their names? Why have their identities not been made public? Are they less culpable of the crime? Why should this woman spend three months in a remand home getting scarred for life while these men, these rich, influential men sit in their drawing rooms with their families and call her a whore? Why is there no such institution for them. Where they learn to curb the desire of their loins and learn to treat woman as human beings?

We express horror at rape and hold out candle light vigils and marches, yet almost 100 women in India are raped everyday. We upload facebook statuses claiming women's rights and freedom, yet a hell lot of our abuses are connected to mothers and sisters. Do we have the right to judge Basu? Are we evolved and mature and holy enough to do that? Do we have the right to violate her right to privacy and permanently scar her psyche and life? Just to fulfill our hunger for gossip? Basu sold her body for money. What is the quintessential item girl of Bollywood doing? Why does the public hoot and whistle when the song "Main toh tandoori murgi hun yaar, ghatkale saiyan alcohol se" is playing to the thumkas of Kareena Kapoor? The line translates into something like "I am just flesh, consume me with alcohol". There are complaints that Bollywood is a fence sitter in Basu's case. What else can it be? Its good they are silent. The self proclaimed messiahs who tell you the importance of being human and satyamev jayate. Because the heroines of their films don't go far beyond item numbers and skimpy clothes. It would be a laughable irony if they were to speak for Basu's rights. Don't blame Rani Mukherjee for staying mum on the issue even when she played the role of a cop who is out to bust human trafficking. Poor woman had to be "Mardaani" to make a mark.

To the Indian men. Should you be talking about the rights of rape victims and victims of human trafficking when you do not have the courage to marry one of these women? Should you be talking about the emancipation of women when you hardly fail to check out a woman's "front" and "behind".
Should you talk about the girls "without characters" when you practically can't exist without pornography? Let us cease to be the hypocrites we are. Let us only speak up when we have the courage to follow up on our words. Our society has been nourished on the double standards for women. It is ingrained in the grooves and ridges our cerebral hemispheres.  And we have a very very very long way to go to make ourselves better people.

Until then, we can only apologize to Shweta Basu for what we have made of her.

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