Things Indians believe should be banned to stop rape
- 9 December 2014
- From the section Asia
As soon as Delhi banned Uber and then other web-based taxi firms after a woman was raped, Indians flexed their satirical muscles on social media and compiled lists of other things that should be banned in order to put an end to rape once and for all.
BBC Hindi's Parul Agrawal looks at how Indians veered from mockery to despair.
1. Ban neighbours, husbands and boyfriends
"The Delhi government should ban relationships between adult men and adult women. Boyfriends should be banned. Husbands should be banned too to ensure the problem of marital rape is solved," blogs Nitin Pai of The Acorn blog.
Many were keen to make the point that rape might in fact not be a direct consequence of web-based taxi apps but may indeed have broader and more disturbing social and psychological causes.
@SethShruti tweeted: I like how the entire blame is being put on @Uber Because Indian rapists never committed rape before being given a car? #missingthepoint
2. Why stop at Uber? Ban all transport
"Bus, metro and train drivers should be caged into their driving compartments every morning and released only when their shifts are completed," Nitin Pai continues in his satirical vein. By this logic, many argue, the government should have banned buses in the wake of the Delhi bus gang rape in 2012.
But there is a serious point too. A working woman in Delhi - and this is something I know from personal experience - is constantly weighing up affordability and safety. Some professional women rely on these cheaper web-based taxi services to get to work and when going out at night a woman feels more at liberty to wear a skirt when she is not on public transport.
Aseem Rastogi tweets in this vein: "So the plan is to ban all web based cab services after the #Uber incident.. WOW.. Now all women will feel so much safer, isn't it? "
3. Uber's not the problem. It's women. Let's ban women
@gauravkapur tweeted: "Great move to ban Uber. Must also ban offices, colleges, restaurants, cinemas & anywhere else women go. Just ban women leaving the house."
4. Ban that mobile phone and electricity too
There seemed to be almost no end to the possibilities as Indians waxed lyrical on the possibility of living in a darkened room, with no electricity, no modes of transport and no human contact.
5. Ban clothes, pubs, life, but let criminals roam free
It all reminded me of one incident when a group of my friends was advising a visitor to the city how to get around. Each of us gave different pieces of advice: do not take a cab; only travel in the women's metro compartment; do not take a bus. Eventually it dawned on us that the only option we were giving her was to sit in her hotel room.
6. If someone stabs you, stick a plaster on it
Most women online have said the government is missing the point. Rather than making systematic change, the authorities opted for what people see as a knee-jerk reaction and cosmetic change. This is the first time Indians have reacted in such a satirical manner to the announcement. After several big rape cases, people are getting weary of what they see as small moves but no real change on the ground.
7. What Indians do best... ban ban ban
Wit coupled with disgust drove more Indians to social media who seemed dumbstruck by the ability of the Delhi government to ban Uber - a reaction the authorities always resort to, argued these users.
But some spoke up for the ban
Uber was banned on a technicality and few believe the company should get away with what is seen as lax recruitment policies and failing to conduct adequate background checks. Even Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari expressed misgivings about the ban. But there has been some support expressed for it.
The humour may be there in some of these tweets, but it is dark and it reflects a deeper despair with society, government and attitudes to women.