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Requiem for Purity
Special Contribution
By Shobha Shukla
Requiem for purity

The shocking news of the alleged gruesome death of Dr. Iffat Kamal has benumbed my senses. She, a doctor by profession, was allegedly assaulted by her husband in her house at Dundee, Scotland on Dec. 10, 2008, and after battling for 10 days, succumbed to her injuries. That she, a professionally qualified and financially independent person became a prey of the brutality of her husband, has once again put a question mark on all the so called shining progress made by Indian women in recent times.

It is a sad commentary on the way we, as parents, teachers and elders are bringing up our children. Despite all the hoopla about the progressive Indian- urban outlook, daughters are still expected to be submissive and tolerant to marital injustices (to the extent of becoming martyrs); while sons are brought up with the 'killer instinct.' The macho man of the Indian subcontinent does not hesitate to bludgeon his wife to death, or to derive sadistic pleasure in gang raping a defenseless victim, or to avenge the humiliation of being rejected by a woman he fancies, by throwing acid on her face or injecting her with HIV infected blood. We teach our boys never to take NO for an answer. So they, in later life, revel in acts of road rage, violence for fun and jilted lover's revenge — all indicative of the grossly poor upbringing of the future citizens of India.

Somewhere down the line, I hold myself responsible for the fate that befell Iffat (which means purity/chastity). She had been one of my best students at Loreto Convent, Lucknow, where I teach Physics. I remember her vividly as a very intelligent, humble and sincere girl, who was always ready to help others with a winsome smile. Apart from teaching my subject, I have always tried to instill in my students a love for the dignity of womanhood and for the sanctity of human life. Alas! I failed on both accounts. I failed to convey to Iffat that though tolerance is a virtue, it cannot upstage one's right to live. That enough is enough and the line of truce cannot be converted to battle lines. I failed to impart life-saving skills to her, which are so important to survive in this male dominated society.

Let all of us, women and men both, resolve to do whatever is in our power to prevent such heinous crimes being repeated in future. Let our ill-placed maternal instincts not blind us to bring up evil robots (in the form of sons) and dumb dolls (in the form of daughters) instead of caring and loving human beings.

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Other Articles by Shobha Shukla
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Ms. Shobha Shukla has been teaching Physics at India's noted Loreto Convent, and has been writing for The Hindustan Times and Women's Era in the past. She serves as Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS). She can be contacted at






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