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Hathras reflects Manu's mindset dominates: 'Women are false, it's in their nature to seduce'

By Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri*

The woman died and then we woke up to protest. She was alive for two weeks after the heinous incident. Many of us even didn’t notice what had happened at Hathras, how she fought during the next 15 days. Those who noticed, many of them were not sure what actually had happened. So much so, we as a nation were more busy in finding out who among the Bollywood actresses were taking drugs, who smoked weed, who had ‘inappropriate’ or more than one relationship, what kind of private conversations they had in their chat boxes and what not!
And, it is not surprising because our psyche probably is still shaped and governed by what our forefathers had said. ‘Women are the road to hell’. This is the thought that was perpetrated by our sacred books. Yes, we may not anymore remember the verses, but Manu still dominates our mind.
नास्ति स्त्रीणां क्रिया मन्त्रैरिति धर्मे व्यवस्थितिः ।
निरिन्द्रिया ह्यमन्त्राश्च स्त्रीभ्यो अनृतमिति स्थितिः ॥ १८ ॥
(Translation: For women there is no dealing with the sacred texts; such is the rule of law; the fact is that, being destitute of organs and devoid of sacred texts, women are ‘false’—18)
This is a verse from Manusmriti, telling us that women are false; their organs are valueless and they have nothing to do with rule of law. Majority of us, nowadays, may not know these verses, but don’t we really think in a similar manner about women?
Even after she got raped by four higher caste men, even after they broke her spinal cord, even after her tongue was cut and she fought for 15 days before dying our state, which is there to serve the interest of higher caste men, is trying to prove with all its apparatus how Manisha was false. Her forensic report, as if quite expectedly, didn’t find any presence of semen thus nullifying possibility of any rape. 
Not only that, police also sent a very clear message that those who are protesting against this incident will be identified and legal actions will be taken against them. ADG (law and order) Prashant Kumar said, “Post-mortem report says victim died due to her neck injury. Forensic laboratory reports haven't found sperm in samples, making it clear that some people twisted the matter to stir caste-based tension. Such people will be identified and legal action will be taken.”
शय्याऽऽसनमलङ्कारं कामं क्रोधमनार्जवम् ।
द्रोहभावं कुचर्यां च स्त्रीभ्यो मनुरकल्पयत् ॥ १७ ॥
(Translation: Manu assigned to women sleep, sitting, ornament, lust, anger, dishonesty, malice and bad conduct.—17)
We all remember the 2012 Nirbhaya case – as brutal and heinous as what had happened with Manisha. In between we were witness to many such horrific cases at Kathua, Unnao, Kamduni, Hyderabad, Chennai, Surat, and many other places. And all of us know that there are many more which even do not come to our notice. Just after a day Manisha died and her body was secretly and forcefully burnt by the administration we woke up to the news of yet another brutal gang rape in Balrampur.
The uproar, the candle marches, the protests after Nirbhaya have not changed anything. Yes, we got the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 named after Nirbhaya. Has it led to any change? The data of National Crime Research Bureau (NCRB) suggest things have worsened. 
India recorded over 87 rape cases daily in 2019. According to an estimate it is not even half of the actual cases, as most cases go unreported
There are more than 32,500 rape cases recorded each year from 2013. India recorded over 87 rape cases daily in 2019; and according to an estimate it is not even half of the actual cases as most of the cases go unreported. One fourth of the rape victims are minor Only one among four registered cases gets judgement. All these data are available in public domain.
Funeral pyre of the Hathras victim hours later
Public figures in modern India play the role of Manu. In several occasions public figures in powerful positions justified rapes saying that sex is a natural urge for men, that boys will be boys and these ‘mistakes’ are natural, that women also enjoy being raped, that rapes are consensual, that dresses, foods and habits of women invite men to rape.
स्वभाव एष नारीणां नराणामिह दूषणम् ।
अतोऽर्थान्न प्रमाद्यन्ति प्रमदासु विपश्चितः ॥
(Translation: It is the nature of women to seduce men in this world; for that reason the wise are never unguarded in the company of females.)
What is wrong with us? Probably as a society we find it justified to give a lesson to disobedient women through misbehaving, teasing, body-shaming, assassinating character, torturing, slut shaming, witch-hunting and raping. 
All our macho abuses are about women, their sexuality and their body parts. All these are part of the same mind-set that women need to be taught lessons if they don’t fit into the shoe provided by society. That's why they had to break Manisha’s spinal cord and cut her tongue. We are taught through our epic mythologies that Surpnakhas should be treated like this only.
न ब्राह्मणवधाद् भूयानधर्मो विद्यते भुवि ।
तस्मादस्य वधं राजा मनसाऽपि न चिन्तयेत् ॥ ३८१ ॥
(Translation: There is no greater crime on earth than the slaying of a Brāhmaṇa; the king shall, therefore, not even think of his death in his mind.—381)
The accused belong to a higher caste. It’s extremely difficult to prove that they have committed the rape and murder. It’s unlikely that they will be given any punishment let alone capital punishment.
Yes, we are supposed to be governed by our constitution. But our psyche is still dominated by Manusmriti. Our state with all its apparatus is continuing to reinforce the Manusmriti in our brain. Candle march after every such incident won’t change the situation.
---
*With the research and advocacy unit of Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN). Views are personal

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