Are you a woman? Well then, do you have your head covered?
A nineteen year old bride was abducted by a group of men and gang raped in Haryana. A thirteen year old girl was raped by her neighbor in Rohtak. A fifteen year old mentally challenged girl was raped in Rohtak. A fifteen year old girl was raped by nine men in Khammam, Andhra Pradesh. A known politician’s son shot a bartender for refusing him a drink in Delhi. A seventeen year old girl was raped repeatedly by her father, step father and grandfather in Kerala. A man raped his three month old granddaughter in an “undisclosed” location while his wife took solace in the fact that he didn’t step out of the house to find his prey. This Sunday, a twenty three year old paramedical student was gang raped and thrown out of a bus in New Delhi, just yards away from a police van.
Do you feel angry? Outraged? Or are you just appropriately indifferent to these cases because to you, they are just a number? While we conveniently give our two cents on these cases, these very men roam free and feel more empowered with every passing minute. While we bring down the hemline of our clothing and set curfews, these men find a way to fault us our existence.
As the urban intelligentsia scoffs at these incidents and condemns everyone from the government to the upbringing of the vile perpetrator, they still deign to question the choice of apparel of the victim, her profession, her lifestyle and even the authenticity of her allegation. Which brings me to this, where are these woman who would consider going through the trauma of public humiliation, media frenzy and judgmental questioning by the society just to scream ‘wolf’?
The fact remains that we live in a society where the rape of a nine year old girl is justified by the Deputy Director of Tourism by saying, “You can’t blame the locals, and they have never seen such women. Foreign tourists must maintain a certain degree of modesty in their clothing. Walking on the beaches half-naked is bound to titillate the senses.” We live in a society where the Delhi Police Commissioner justifies the increasing number of rape cases by saying that women cannot and should not drive alone at 2am on Delhi Roads and then claim that the capital is unsafe. Instead, they should be chauffeured around by their drivers or their brothers. We live in a society where when a sixteen year old teenager is raped by a police officer in Mumbai, a powerful leftist party spokesperson justifies it by saying that teenage girls wear revealing clothes and the man isn’t to blame.
It’s not just the offensive, uneducated, under delivering politicians that we have to deal with, it is the under informed and archaic vision of the police force. The police force from the National Capital Region is so strongly rooted in the belief that women who get raped deserve it that they take it upon themselves to harass the victim. The police officers, I speak of, aren’t the stereotypical havaldaars of the world, they are Station Heads who truly believe that a woman instigates rape and those who report against such a crime are knee deep in prostitution rackets.
I do not want to encapsulate the pain and trauma of these victims, nor do I want to establish some sort of proposed punishment for the criminals; I can’t be the girl in Kerala or the child in Haryana, I can’t be the girl who was slaughtered in Mumbai, I can’t be the paramedic from Delhi or the bride from Rohtak. I can’t be the face that speaks of their pain because I don’t understand even an iota of their suffering. I don’t and neither do the countless faces who are sitting behind their screens demanding justice. I can’t understand their pain but what I do know is that there is a lot to be done about our society’s mental health.
Our society is not only regressive, it is decaying and diseased. Women are held responsible for all this filth; either because they are believed to have provoked it or for having had brought it to life and raised it incorrectly. We don’t understand crime, we are lazy and we don’t care. We pretend to care because we want to belong, but I want to have nothing to do with this sense of belonging. We look for convenient answers – clothing, makeup, unsolicited interaction, profession. Answers that are flimsy. Answers that don’t suffice.
About this girl who is struggling for her life in Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi, the one who had dreams of being a paramedic, the one who will now go from pillar to post looking for justice, the one who might not even survive – this is the girl who will be labeled as “damaged goods” by her own society. The accused might be punished but what punishment is enough for the heinous crime, for their brutality? Anything severe would get the human rights activists scurrying out of their little holes demanding for leniency and claiming mental deficiencies in the criminals. The same human rights activists who cried hoarse for Kasab but have remained mum about this case.
Maybe this is sufficient enough for you to feel outraged, maybe the perpetrators of all these crimes are punished for their deeds but the fact remains that we live in a society where the victim will find no solace, the woman finds no dignity, the girl finds no independence. Maybe the criminals are brought to their knees but who will punish us?