Let down..

Every time I open this blog to write about the 23 year old girl who lost her life, eyes well up and there is a lump in the throat.. Not only because what this girl went through was hell, but also because of the feeling of helplessness, because, even as I’m writing this, there probably is another woman or child subjected to such pain. It pains to even say the word ‘Rape’.. The collective apathy of those in power, of the supporters of patriarchy, of the misogynists, is a gentle rubbing of salt in the wound. We continue to feel sore.

An anonymous moron in an intranet blog recently took it upon himself to enlighten his fellow-junta that the women had two important assets. Oh no. You can never guess! They are i)herself, b) her gold ornaments! No, the moron didn’t stop there. He went on to opine that while women took so much care about their ornaments and kept it ‘covered’, why they were asking for trouble by not covering themselves up. It hurts right? It hurt me too. But the absolute silence from the 100s of people who, am sure, read it, hurt me more. Among us, the educated lot, we have men and women who believe a woman’s place is a 100 steps behind the man, a secondary citizen who cannot claim her right to speech, movement, attire, desire, let alone her right to fight! Among us, we have in equal numbers, people who don’t want to get into this mess.. How does it help? Can we change such people? Who do you think is going to hear us out? Its a waste of time trying to talk sense into these people. Yes. Maybe they are right. It is that familiar ‘stone thrown in a slush’ story. I’m finding myself to be incapable of such ‘maturity’.

That irresponsible comment is not a ‘standalone’ opinion. Our admirable, adorable politicos have been giving us such wonderful insights of late. There are recommendations of doing-away with skirts as uniforms and to replace that with pants. There will be another one soon telling us after another rape of a pant-shirt clad girl that, it is because the girl was dressed inappropriately that she got raped. We must switch to full skirt and blouse or need-be a half-saree. These ‘know-all’ people will keep changing their minds on what the women can wear while conveniently covering-up the root-cause of the bloody issue. None of these people want to talk about the 13 year old girl who was raped and killed in Tuticorin, the 5 yr old kid in Bidar, another woman in the North who was raped again by the police when she went to file a compliant.. What kind of dress-code would someone prescribe for a 5 yr old? Disgusting.. Change in school uniform for girls alright… So what will be prescribed for women over 40? Each of these lawmakers would make for good museum pieces.

When Sunitha Krishnan spoke on a TV show (I think it was We the People on NDTV), she expressed her embarrassment at being given a standing ovation on the show.. She tried to get the message across that she was not some kind of hero, but a victim of rape who suffered more from societal stigma, suffered because of apathy among her own folks, suffered because she was silenced. She mentioned in her earlier TED talk about how she was able to overcome the pain and trauma of being raped, but how tough it has been to get past the blaming. On this particular show a few days back, she did not miss the opportunity of pointing out that its 24 years since she was assaulted and that as a nation, we are still talking…

We know that rape or any form of violence against women is not just an Indian phenomenon. It keeps happening everywhere. But the kind of empathy a victim gets, the stern hands of the law-enforcers, the care and sensitivity with which the issue is dealt with, the ways in which the victim is made to feel that he/she was not at fault, the levels of awareness among people (children included), the respect for an individual’s freedom and space without attaching a gender angle to it, are MAJORLY lacking in this country.

The brutal rape in Delhi has this time galvanized the protests across all mediums into a bigger movement of violence against women. Even as one moron passed loose comments on a woman’s assets, there is another young man who drafted a letter to the prime-minister to get the culprits punished without delay and this young chap mobilized signatures from most of the people. That people went to his desk voluntarily to sign the petition, is reason for hope. A hope that the momentum will be maintained and some good will come of it first in the form of reforms.. A change in the people’s outlook is but a gradual process..

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14 thoughts on “Let down..

  1. I dont know what to comment…Everytime I read about the girl, I feel a sadness which just threatens to overwhelm me..and no, I dont have any more anger left…Have I given up?

  2. Vidya, I wrote up so many posts on this, but never had the courage to post them. In fact, I even posted one of those and within five minutes, deleted it because words seemed so darn inadequate to communicate the intense pain I feel.
    You are brave.

  3. another irritating comment what my MIL made was, “better she dies than live to face the world.”. i got angry.. did it mean, by any change i get rapes, i need to end my life, nt think of my daughter or my family which needs me more?? sad state .. 😦

  4. I agree with your viewpoints but I also strongly feel that the whole soceity needs to change from root. Look at a similar case which happened in Delhi yesterday when a girl was saved by police while she was molested. She went out in anger from her home and no one bothered to even check where she is going at that time.

    In the above case too, the police traced the bus details from their ‘hafta’ dairy where they keep details of people from whom they have to collect their weekly/daily bribes.. And this bus was impounded more than once this year [for flouting all rules] and the driver was indicted several times earlier on many charges and he was let loose time and again..

    In the Jantar mantar protest, I saw in NDTV that a female reporter was harassed!

    Where are we heading to?

    • RR, I’d like to attribute the instance of that girl being saved to the heat of the protests not dying down yet in the capital. I know am jaundice eyed. Our only hope of ensuring a better tomorrow is to make our children aware and teach them early on valuing a person for what he or she is and not on the basis of gender, or the god/godman a person chooses to follow. As things stand today, it is depressing to say the least.

  5. A numbness pervades my mental capacity when such things happen. It is the numbness that comes after emotional drain. Some changes happen when older generations die away – like accepting gays and lesbians. People with parochial views can’t be taught beyond a point. So the society just waits for them to die. But what do we do with rapists? Rape has been an integral part of society since the birth of humanity. And will continue to be. How are we to deal with it in severely ill-informed patriarchal kavariman-pride clans like India and Somalia? As you mention, we can try to educate the women and their parents that there’s no stigma involved, and it was a matter of pure physical over-powering. But it’s not education of the sorts you get in school. It is empathy and love. It needs, what’s the word – humaneness. And that comes from kids watching their brothers and fathers interact with their sisters and mothers. You see the glass half-full? I see the water poured out and the glass crushed. It’s that gloomy.

    Johnny Depp was once too invested in American politics and after a point of extreme polarization he said ‘Fuck you, I don’t care anymore’ and moved to France. I cannot move to my metaphorical France. I’m the father of a girl child, brother of a young lady and the husband of a lovely woman. The only way I can enjoy a nice morning after such events is because of that numbness that tunes out the cry of a girl (or a boy or a man, for that matter) when they’re being ganged up.

    • Even am not buying the ‘glass half-full’ story anymore. People are following people spewing shit and it is getting worse by the day (blind following the blind). All I’m able to do as a woman in this lacking country is fall into the woman stereotype and weep my guts out for a woman I didn’t know and another dozen women whom I know very closely. And in both cases, there isn’t a damn thing I can do.. Am waiting for THAT numbness to consume me.

  6. Vidya, those tears – I felt it too…that sadness – it teared me down !!! As a mother of 2 teenagers, all I am doing now is to strengthen my girls will power to face a dirty world and on the means of taking care of them !!!
    These leeches cant stand a powerful woman, and this is their way of getting back at the women.
    Finally, if there is some change in attitude which can bring upon a revolutionary society where women can be free to walk alone, that’ll be a happy day.

  7. It’s really terrible that there are still people who claim it’s a woman’s fault she was raped. I live in Croatia and it’s not different here. Some men even claim rape in a relationship or marriage doesn’t exist and it was not considered a crime (by law) until the 90’s. Every time I hear an opinion such as that ones or when someone makes a rape joke, my first thought is: “That person is a (potential) rapist himself.” They claim women lie about being raped. They claim they overreact. And then something like this happens and at THAT point they realise they were wrong.
    We had a similar case in Split, Croatia a bit before this one in Delhi – a girl was raped by her friend at a party and he pulled her intestines out. She was taken to a hospital and she’s alive after a surgery. However, doctor said her body will never completely recover and she will always have problems because of it.
    Not to mention feminists are looked down upon, like we want privileges for our gender. No, we don’t. We only want respect and equality. And it seems we’re asking for too much.
    I found a Croatian site about rape (information, help etc.) and some guy posted a comment (translated):
    “Classical form of rape when a man throws a woman in the bush and rapes her is horrible, just as any sort of violence. ….
    However, women who were raped by their boyfriends… I don’t feel sorry for them at all. While many normal men who work hard, follow the law, are unviolent and responsible can’t find a woman, the biggest idiots have no problems with it. Women choose their parthers and they are responsible for what follows. Every one of those raped women rejected many normal men while searching for “the one” as defined by your feminists magazines.
    So please, stop being hysterical, spoiled brats, face the consenquences of your actions.
    Don’t be surprised if you’re only approached by violent men because a normal man will be afraid for his life if he ends up dating you. …
    For my future relationships, I will find out what a women thinks about feminism and such organizations. If she supports them, I’m moving on and I’m leaving her to deal with violent men. You get what you ask for.”
    I have no problems admitting I am deeply, deeply ASHAMED of my country.

    • After reading the translated comment, I’m shocked to know that somebody can be capable of so much apathy and insensitivity! How screwed up can a person’s thinking be?! This is even worse than the perpetrators of crime where at least, if not all, are punished! People get away unscathed after posting something as regressive!

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