For the first time since the Mumbai terror attacks, I am terribly scared again. The gang rape of the hapless 23-year-old physiotherapist has left me shaken. This is not to say that other tragedies have left me untouched. It’s just that what scares me more than anything else is the inhuman face of terror, of brutality, of cold-blooded cruelty that lies beneath the everyday mask that humans wear. A school bus driver, a vegetable vendor and a gym instructor — these are people we come across every day. But did you imagine that if you scratch the surface, beneath lies a man capable of the kind of cruelty perpetrated on this victim?
In BBC’s documentary, for the first time the slain leader’s macabre rape chamber can be seen, showing ‘Gaddafi’sden’ where he regularly raped young girls and forced them to watching pornography.
After more than two years of capture and death of Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi, details about his brutality towards young girls-turned-sex slaves have been emerging gradually.
In BBC’s documentary, for the first time the slain leader’s macabre rape chamber can be seen, showing ‘Gaddafi’s den’ where he regularly raped young girls and forced them to watching pornography.
According to news.com.au, the small, nondescript single-storey complex includes a room holding little more than a double bed with a 1970s decor and grimy Jacuzzi, all left exactly as they were when Gadaffi last used it.
What is more chilling is an actual clinical gynaecological suite in an adjoining room, where young girls were forced to undergo abortions and tested for possible STDs before being sent to Gaddafi for exploitation.
Those who were able to escape were shunned by their conservative Muslim families, those who stayed were so badly abused that they were dumped in car parks and on waste ground, and left to die.
The report said that it took the documentary-makers months of negotiations to be allowed access to information on Gaddafi as Libya remains secretive and hidebound by bureaucracy.
This week’s Storyville, Mad Dog: Gaddafi’s Secret World looks at the nature of dictatorship through the story of the ultimate dictator – the late Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Filmed in Cuba, the Pacific, Brazil, the USA, South Africa, Libya and Australia, this hard-hitting documentary features interviews with palace insiders, victims of his violent regime and some of those who gave shape to Gaddafi’s dark dreams.
An FBI fugitive tells of Gaddafi’s ‘murder-for-hire’ team, set up to kill his enemies worldwide; his former plastic surgeon tells how he found himself operating on Gaddafi in the middle of the night and without general anaesthetic because he was afraid of being poisoned.
We hear from the widow of the Libyan foreign minister, whose body Gaddafi kept in a freezer; a female bodyguard who adored him until she was forced to watch teenagers being executed; and the teacher at a school visited by Gaddafi tells how he turned up unannounced to select girls to be taken back to his palace for his pleasure, tapping students on the head to indicate to his henchman which ones he wanted.
Gaddafi was a dictator like no other; their stories are stranger than fiction.
The perpetrators of the crime were sick and inhuman, but are we not responsible too for tolerating lazy systems and delayed justice?
This is not rape we are talking about here; it is much, much more. It is a violation of humanity, of womanhood, of life, and of God Himself! It is a violation of one’s very existence on earth. In a way, I would say, with this cruelty — and the Connecticut school massacre — the world and all humanity did actually come to an end in December 2012 as per the Mayan calendar.
These incidents are just an extreme manifestation of a problem that ticks around us all the time, waiting for the slightest provocation to explode in our faces. If you are one of those who doesn’t read disturbing reports and prefers to stay cocooned in a false sense of security, then things are fine for you. But in the real world, one increasingly encounters tempers on short leash, people quick to take umbrage, and ever prepared to strike back. These days, you hesitate before ticking off someone or even objecting to something. My son stops me from complaining to a waiter in a restaurant, saying, “Mom, he will get angry and spit in the food or something!” He also stops me from pulling up the house help for any misdemeanors, saying, “Haven’t you watched Dastak? Some people strike back, even kill for small, imagined insults!”
You tell off someone for hitting your car, and he whips out a gun. You don’t allow your daughter to marry the man of her choice and she kills you. You protest when a man teases you, and he considers it his licence to stalk you and rape you. It seems that we are surrounded by ticking time bombs, human landmines you have to be careful not to step on, lest you trigger off an explosion that destroys you.
Does this make you wonder what the world is coming to? What has changed? I asked my friend, psychiatrist Dr Deepak Raheja, on the gang rape issue. “Nothing’s changed. There is a time bomb beneath the surface of all of us. The animal instinct is part of our make-up; we are all basically animals who have learnt to train ourselves so as to fit in with our idea of a civilised society,” he says.
But surely, you and I wouldn’t ever be so brutal, so cruel, so remorseless? That is where education, culture, spirituality, a greater consciousness — call it what you will — come in. That is what helps us rise far above the basic animal instinct, and this is also what creates the difference, the divide between the haves and have nots. Poverty and lack of means frustrate people further; add to that minds that are very, very sick and there goes off your time bomb! But the one thing that can still keep order intact in society and save the rest from the few sick minds is, as always, the rule of law.
Ultimately, how safe your society is boils down to how strict and effective your law and its execution is. “Despite civilization, education and consciousness, the danda is the most effective means of keeping order,” says Deepak. “If people think they can get away with it, they will push the boundaries. But of course, in cases such as the Delhi gang rape, these people are indeed wired differently. They are very sick.”
True, but however sick they may be, if they didn’t think they could get away with it, they may have thought twice about what they did. And so the people who are responsible are the policemen, the people on the road, and yes, us! We all need to be alert, sensitive, firm in a zero-tolerance policy and willing to help and protect the weakest in our society.
And then comes the next question: should rapists be subjected to castration or capital punishment? Between the two, I would choose the former, but it’s not enough. Certainly not enough for what they did to the 23-year-old, not by any stretch of imagination. I do not think the law can do anything to the perpetrators of this crime that is punishment enough. Capital punishment would be too soft on them; they would die quickly, and then what? They should be made to suffer for this every minute of their lives and should be made an example for other would-be criminals so that nobody ever again dares to tear asunder the very fabric of civilised existence and leave us all shaking with rage and helplessness yet again.
The aftermath of Nirbhaya’s torture and death has left the nation deeply hurt and baying for blood. But what will these feelings of revenge do to our collective psyche?
I used to be grateful for not being born in barbaric times when eye for eye, tooth for tooth was the norm. When routinely, as punishment, people were stoned to death or flayed alive, disemboweled, impaled on stakes fixed in the ground, or horror of horrors, sawed into two while hanging upside down! One can understand a few terribly troubled minds executing such horrors upon another human being, but the mind boggles at the idea of such ancient, savage practices being the result of a cool and calculated decision. Thank God for civilization. Or, so one thought, till the Delhi gang rape shook us all out of this stupor to realise that the barbaric mind lives on beneath the thin veneer of civilization. Not just in the perpetrators of the crime, but shockingly, somewhere in all of us as well.readmore Mad Dog: Gaddafi regularly raped young girls and forced them to watching pornograph