Nude parade continues to haunt From here to where ?
It should not matter whether the two Kuki women who were paraded naked were raped or not-Rape as understood in the conventional sense of penile penetration. As The Wire reported quoting Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover, ‘legal definition of rape is much wider and not limited to penile-vaginal penetration.’ Grover highlighted that any of these acts constitute rape if done against the will or without consent of a woman-Penetration of a penis into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus; Insertion of any object or body part (other than a penis) into the vagina, urethra or anus; Manipulation of any body part of a woman to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra or anus; Applying mouth in the vagina, urethra, or anus of a woman. In short this is the legal definition of rape and however graphic the explanation of what constitute rape in the legal sense may seem, it is important for all to understand how far the Court will go to protect the modesty of a woman. This is also in line with the position that women enjoy in the great Meitei society and this is precisely the reason why the May 4 incident has drawn such widespread condemnations from every corner of Manipur. Just like the naked parade of the two women, the follow up story/stories as well as the comments from numerous experts have also gone viral. Go to any newspaper or comment section of the numerous newspapers published in India and the naked parade of the two women will greet any reader. A sure shot way of bringing infamy to the place and to the people, the only group of people who now identify themselves with the geo-political reality called Manipur. But does this negate in any way the first hand report carried by The Wire, which quoted one of the women as stating, “We were not raped by them-they just took off our clothes and touched our bodies.”? The answer will lie on who reads the situation, but given the current reality in Manipur, it may pay to always tag the term ‘rape’ to the naked parade of the two women, for reasons which must be obvious to all. Either way, what happened on May 4 cannot be condoned under any circumstances and not surprisingly the Government of Manipur has come under scathing attack from all over.
Accountability has to be fixed. Would the matter have been allowed to die a natural death if the video clip had not seen the light of day ? Would there be no call for justice or no voice of condemnation if what happened on May 4 had not come to the notice of the people of India ? Did the State Government overlook the need to act and take action under the false belief that it could have been swept under the carpet ? Who shot the video clip and who uploaded it on the social media ? And why was this done just one day ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament ? The video clip was disturbing and what happened was not acceptable at all, but these questions also merit some attention, given the situation in Manipur. As one wit put it during an informal chat, how did the video clip go viral when internet has been suspended for over 60 days ? Or was it a case of the said clip being saved, stored, taken outside Manipur and then released at the opportune moment ? To the casual observer these questions may appear to be off the cuff remarks, but at the same time, these questions certainly deserve attention. What is the way forward ? A question which the Government must have broken its head over ever since violence erupted in the evening of May 3 and even after more than 70 days, this question continues to dog everyone. The Prime Minister has also spoken, but the question of greater importance is whether this would begin and end with the outburst against the nude parade of the two girls. More importantly what is the narrative that the State Government has prepared to present a water tight case before New Delhi when the right time comes and the question is, have they been able to work out a water tight case ?