By Ramesh K Dhiman : A highly regressive statement by Bollywood super star Salman Khan, comparing his strenuous shooting schedule of his film ‘Sultan’ with the traumatized condition of a ‘raped woman’, has left teeming millions of his fans across the world, besides the film fraternity, devastated. What is more shocking than surprising is the fact that he didn’t have the courtesy to come out with a simple apology for the analogy he used against women. Their seething anger could be gauzed from the hate mails that poured thick and fast, as his fans and foes discussed behind the doors his errant behavior in hush-hush tones, which too could not move the mega star to brush aside the raging controversy, saying it was a slip of the tongue. This was enough for them to up their ante against his.
While some of his avowed fans, including some celebrities, who were buttonholed by some nosey scribes, chose to maintain a stoic silence over the ticklish issue, saying they won’t like to jump in the fray and stoke the flames of the ongoing controversy. Some even went on to say he couldn’t do that as ‘He holds every woman folk in high esteem and the analogy used by him is nothing but a mere slip of tongue’. A microscopic minority was a way more vocal on his using inappropriate metaphor that tantamount to trivializing the trauma of rape victim.
Some from the industry were too vocal in condemning the act of the maverick Bollywood icon. Among them, Sona Mahapatra, a singing sensation from the industry, composer and song writer, had criticized the star for using inappropriate words against women, who have already been battling the stigma of gender inequality in the country. She went on to say that the actor should have come forward to tender his unconditional apology for the analogy undermining the stigma of a rape victim “Why should his father offer apologies on his (Salman’s) behalf?” However, she had to pay a price for her hard stance against the wrong being done to trivializing the enormity of rape and the trauma the innocent victim lives with throughout her life. She was subjected to a flurry vicious trolls, rape threats, showing her morphed pictures in the nude, bullying and even indulging in other profanities on her twitter handle.
The deafening din surrounding the raging controversy reached the National Commission for Women (NCW), which took a suo moto cognizance of the incident and demanded an unconditional apology from the actor, who is already being tried in the court of law for trampling pavement dwellers under the influence of liquor and killing a black buck. The NCW cautioned his it would be free to drag him to the court of law for his callous and uncalled for demeanour if he failed to do so. Similar requests were made by his other fans who wanted to support him incognito. Puerile as it many sound it failed to move Salman bhai to come forward to tender his apology to assuage the hurt sentiments of women, who were our mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and so on.
Salman’s case is not perhaps the first of its kind when woman’s honour had been at stake. Their honour and self-esteem have taken a beating at the hands of a typical medieval mindset, targeting women in general and rape victims in particular, by using wrong analogies and metaphors. Examples are a dime a dozen. Even the horrific gang rape of a bubbly young physiotherapist intern Nirbhaya, on the bustling roads of Delhi, on a nippy December 2012 evening, that had brought young and old on the roads to seek justice for the innocent victim, too had to face such a paradox.
While all the saner souls were praying for the well-being and longevity of the victim under treatment in a hospital, some motor-mouthed ‘messiahs’ of the teeming millions and the ‘saviors’ of our lofty democratic traditions and moral values, had not desisted from making uncouth and unsavory remarks against the rape victim. Their wayward rape remarks had made for the screaming newspaper headlines and animated TV debates and discussions. Trivializing the harrowing saga of the rape victim, a self-styled spiritual guru, currently cooling his heels in a jail on the charge of raping a minor, had gone to the extent of saying “The victim is guilty as the rapists… she should have called the rapists brothers and begged before them to stop”, which had elicited strong reaction from the public.
In an animated chit-chat with a scribe, who once drew the attention of Om Prakash Chautala, a former Haryana CM, to the ever-burgeoning number of rapes across the country, he had shot back “Girls should be married at the age of 16 so that they have their husbands for their sexual needs and they do not go elsewhere. This way rapes will not occur”. Some among the top political spectrum wanted a blanket ban on the sartorial choices of girls, restricting their moving out four walls of their houses after sunset, while other sought ostracization of those who dare to defy and so on and so forth. This is how our elected representatives and others in the higher echelons tend to treat women, no matter how high and mighty they might be.
Even though woman has stormed the male bastion in a big way, making it to the centre stage of power, be it bureaucracy, police force, armed forces, entrepreneurship, education and even carving out a prominent niche for themselves in the corridor of power, they still face the stigma of gender bias at the hands of their chauvinistic male partners, whom they still call “Frailty thy name is woman” Despite their being equal partners in progress of the country, they are considered feeble and fickle-minded and fully dependant on their male partners playing second fiddle to them and bear and rear children for them. They have learnt to be resilient and resolve to suffer in silence than showing signs of revulsion or revolt.
The million dollar question that remains unanswered so far is “Why should woman always be the soft target of their haughty male partner?” Woman, who has been on the receiving end since time immemorial and is subjected to bear the brunt for no fault of hers. Even our mythology is abounds in instances where even temporal consorts of our gods had to undergo a series of traumas to prove themselves innocent. In the epic Ramayana, we are aware how Sita had to leapfrog hurdles to prove her innocence, purity and piety she remained captive of demon king Ravana. Draupadi was disrobed under the prying eyes of the family elders and other respectable, when Pandvas lost the wager, but none of them mustered enough courage to come to her rescue. Left to fend for herself she prayed to lord Krishna for help, which was granted instantaneously.