How many of us have come across men who cannot handle rejection and feel entitled to our bodies as well as entitled to dictate our lifestyle and love, and other choices in life? From verbal threats to physical assault (think about all the acid attack cases) and even murder, they feel entitled to control not only what is happening in their own lives but what is happening in someone else’s, even if they hardly know that person.
On December 3, such a case left a 22-year-old dancer, Kulwinder Kaur, dead at a wedding in Maur, Bathinda, after a guest shot at her because, as her husband puts it, she was unwilling to dance with him. “The men, four-five in number, were making advances towards the girls on the stage, and when we stopped them from climbing the stage, one of them fired the shot directly into the head of my wife,” reads Harjinder Singh’s FIR.
The accused, the groom’s friend, was drunk and wanted to dance on the stage with Kaur’s troupe. When he was refused that, he opened fire. Police have now arrested prime accused Billa and three others. However, the reporting of the case strangely shrouded the husband’s version of the story and it was passed off as an accidental shooting or celebratory firing gone awry till some media outlets pointed out the discrepancy.
This case brings to mind the infamous Jessica Lal case. On April 29, 1999, Jessica Lall, celebrity bartender at Tamarind Court, was shot dead by Manu Sharma, son of Congress leader Binod Sharma, after she refused him a drink as he was already inebriated. Manu Sharma and the other accused were initially acquitted by a lower court after eyewitnesses, including actor Shayan Munshi, turned hostile in the case. There was a huge outrage over their acquittal, following which the Delhi High Court reopened the case and sentenced Manu Sharma to life imprisonment, a judgment the Supreme Court upheld on April 19, 2010.
Both these cases involve men who somehow felt entitled to do whatever they wanted and the frustration of rejection turned them violent. Their victims were hardly known to them but that did not stop them from trying to gain control over the situation, in both cases, with a gun.
These incidents are most certainly outcomes of the malady of male entitlement that plagues our society and these are not the only ones. We keep coming across news of women being harassed, threatened, raped and even killed for rejecting suitors or partners they decided to leave for good.
Take the example of Ramchanphy Hongray, a 19-year-old who was killed on October 24, 2009, by IIT-Delhi researcher Pushpam Kumar Sinha, 34, who had been pursuing her and was rejected by her. On the day of the murder, he tried to force himself on her and killed her when she resisted. Another example is the high-profile case of Priyadarshini Mattoo, a 25-year-old law student, who was killed on January 23, 1996, by Santosh Kumar Singh, the son of a police inspector-general, who had been stalking and harassing her. The accused in this case too was acquitted by a lower court and later sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court. The Supreme Court later commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.
To quote Margaret Atwood, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”
The women in these cases simply chose to reject the proposals of men besotted with them and they had to pay with their lives for that choice.
Then there are the spurned lovers or husbands who feel that they somehow have ownership over women’s bodies and their choices on account of being close to them at some point. Almost every woman has a story of a break-up where they were slut-shamed or threatened with violence for choosing to walk away from a relationship. At times, this situation culminates in a murder. Recently, on December 8, 23-year-old A Soniya was confronted and killed by her alleged estranged lover S Prashant while she was waiting at the Perungalathur bus stop in Chennai.
This comes close on the heels of another murder in a Chennai bus-stand of N Sivaranjani, a 25-year-old woman, by S Aravind Kumar, her former colleague, whose proposal she had rejected. What is striking here is that the men in both these cases were so blind with rage that the crimes were committed publicly and the million-dollar question is why is violence against women by rejected men so normalised in our society?