Is a "woman's gun" the colour pink, and like those treacly ads selling scooters and laptops in fuchsia and teal shades for "ladies"?
I have said so often enough that spurred on by the media 'concern' for causes, especially those that have to do with women's issues, the corporate and allied businesses would soon move in. Protection has become the new empowerment.
The shocking piece of news is a revolver for women, "an ideal to fit a purse or a small hand bag":
Giving more power to women to defend themselves and as a tribute to December 2012 ganrape victim Nirbhaya, the Indian Ordnance Factory, Kanpur, has manufactured Nirbheek, a .32 bore light weight revolver, India's first firearm designed for women. At 500 grams, it is also the first IOF handgun made of titanium alloy.
It costs Rs 1,22,360, and has been named Nirbheek, the given-by-media name of the Delhi gangrape victim. It is as though there were no rapes before that December day, and those after are all in some ways connected to it.
This is most unfortunate, because it ignores the different manifestations of sexual violence. Besides, we are again catering to a segment that can afford the gun, has powerful contacts to procure a licence (we are in India, remember?), and worst of all assumes that she is under constant threat.
One has to keep repeating that creating a fear psychosis is counterproductive. Today, women are quoted as saying that they are afraid to walk in the streets, use public transport, attend office, stay alone at home. We have built a monster, instead of seriously handicapping is, if not killing it.
A senior IPS officer, Arun Kumar, said:
"Once a target of rape whips out a handgun, the element of surprise is sure to scare the life out of most of the persons who attempt rape. In most of criminal cases in India, the perpetrator, irrespective of whether armed or not, neither expects nor faces any stiff resistance from the target. Women carrying small handguns will surely make a difference to the tendency."
Tendency? Is it some natural ailment? And is the gun some sort of immunisation? Often the woman is taken by surprise. Where would she have the presence of mind to check into her handbag? Why can she not, then, carry a sturdy handbag that can be smashed into the fellow's face?
What about the increasing incidents of gang rape? What about those known to the victim? Date rape?
We also need to ask about crimes against women in the interiors, in tribal regions, committed by militants and security forces. Where are the revolvers? Will they be of any use?
Women in the armed forces carry heavy arms, yet they too have been victims. It isn't about the weight of the gun, but can they bear the burden of bestiality?
These questions are important because all these devices that pay tribute to one victim, who was politicised and came to international notice, completely ignore the dynamics and the nuances, not to speak of the 'lesser people'.
Recently, actress Kareena Kapoor launched an app that will send out automatic messages at the press of a button to four people chosen. It will also track the location via GPS.
This has its merits. But, again, we are talking about the urban segment. One must certainly not ignore it, yet it is disturbing that women have become just an opportunity. The app could have been a lipstick.
The idea of celebrities joining in has less to do with concern and more to do with the increasing marketing tools employed for them. They do not wish to only be performers, but to show their sensitive and human side.
Farhan Akhtar fronted MARD — the acronym for Men Against Rape and Discrimination, as though this should be a special category instead of the norm — to sensitise men about gender equality and respect for women. This is such a ridiculous concept. (Besides, 'mard' is the Hindi/Urdu word for male, and conjugated as 'mardangi' it means machismo.) Indian men traditionally respect the woman, they deify her. The problem is with 'other' women, who are not part of their own environment, their safety net. These pose a psychological threat and are therefore threatened.
What kind of male is the organisation reaching out to? Isn't this another buddy club where men are taught to look after women and then pat themselves for being such super/man guys?
Isn't this the sort of nonsense that effectively works as another patriarchy, that too without the gun?
What women need is not a revolver, but an evolved male population. It does take time, but if capital punishment, solitary confinement, years of imprisonment have not acted as deterrents, can the flashing of a gun do it?
© Farzana Versey