Scene One: You, I and Umrao Jaan belong to a state. Umrao Jaan and I elect you as the state. Now, you declare Umrao Jaan is corrupting our morals and then ban her. Umrao Jaan’s cries fall on deaf ears.

Scene Two: Umrao Jaan asserts what is little left of her liberty, her right to self-ownership of her body. You, the state sexually assault her on grounds of her “asking” for it.

This is precisely the state of affairs in Mumbai. Where one arm of the state purports to protect people from the influence of bar-dancing girls, another arm of the state gets away with assaulting a minor! And it is not the state to blame, it is the people who acquiesce or are indifferent to the reasoning. It is from them stem the ideas that lead to these consequences!

Where does Umrao Jaan go from here?

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Economic theory would suggest that passing a legislation that allows women to carry weapons might have significant stake in decreasing the number of physical assaults on them. We also know from theory that deterrence works better than the size of punishment. If rapists were granted “castration” (as I have seen many demand for it, including Vir Sanghvi) but the prosecutions do not happen so, the message would be sent that punishments do not matter. On the other hand, as in the failure of the state mechanism, citizens transfer the mechanism to themselves. So it is not unusual to find private security guards, private schools etc flourish because the state flounders there.

If women were allowed to carry hand-guns, imagine the deterrence! A gun could be anywhere on the self or in the handbag or with passers-by. Imagine the empowerment!

Otherwise we will continue to have more like these…

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