This has been one of the toughest posts to compose. I have wept, taken breaks, thrown things out of frustration.. but have still not been able to organize my thoughts. Posting it nevertheless....----------------------------------------------------------------
Everyone is condoling the death of the 23 year old girl, recently gang-raped in a moving bus, in the capital city of India. Honestly, I am happy for her she died. To live with the memories of being physically, emotionally, mentally and morally violated by random men, for no fault of hers, would have been worse than death. She could never have trusted any man again, she could never walk down a street after sunset, she would be sensitive to any kind of touch, she would hate her own body, she would prefer to die.
So for all those that are praying for her to "Rest In Peace"- she is NOT going to. She was gang-raped, a rod was shoved into her vagina all the way to her intestines, she was thrown off a moving bus, naked, onto a lonely, cold road, she lay there for hours before anyone came to her rescue. No. She is certainly not going to rest in peace. Why don't we, instead of praying for her, and discussing about her misfortune, look inwards and see what are the root-causes for such incidents, because as much as we would like to think ourselves as a mature, developing, progressing people, we are also the ones that have brought this upon the thousands of women that have been, and those that are going to, be raped.
Before I present my point of view, I would like to share some statistics* that we are all going to be very proud of:
- India ranks 3rd in the world in terms of number of rapes per year
- In India, a rape is committed once in every 54 minutes.
- Incidents of rape in the country have increased by a staggering 792% over the past nearly 40 years
- Almost 97% of the rapes are committed by persons known to the victim with about 7% committed by family members and 35% by neighbors.
- Courts were able to decide upon only 16% of rape cases in 2010 ..... and the cherry on the cake is ......conviction rates have dipped from 41% in 1971 to a meager 27% in 2010.
The possible answers, if stated without any emotion, would be-
1) A regular guy, doing a regular job, gets horny, doesn't know where to get sex from, rapes a woman he feels he can overpower.
2) A notorious road-side romeo decides "enough of ogling and whistling, it's time to take matters more seriously".. goes out, and rapes one of the girls whose routine he knows.
3) A group of men, drinking, cracking sex jokes, see an opportunity, pick up a woman, rape her one by one, and throw her into some dump-yard.
This is worst that we have heard of, right? This is the worst that we can imagine. Let me prick your women-safety bubble and inform you that there are husbands that rape their wives on a daily basis, there are friends raping friends to shoot videos for fun and for sale, there are brothers that 'lend' sisters to their friends for the sake of friendship and fun (!), there are fathers raping daughters out of anger, there are random men raping girls to feel masculine, there are cases in which 40 men raped one woman in the name of religion.
Reasons for rape are much deeper than just getting horny or just needing sex.
Rapists don't look any different from regular people, they don't eat any different food, they don't walk any different roads, they don't watch any different movies. They do what most of us do. The environment has a similar effect on them as it has on us. Patriarchy, we say, is the reason for rapes and other crimes against women. I think it is our progression towards equality that is the reason. Patriarchy is gradually getting replaced by gender equality, and that, some men don't like. They want to be in control, they want to "show women their place", they want to be seen as the stronger gender. If one really digs in, one will find a number of acid attacks, rapes, wife immolation crimes committed in the name of this fake ego that men try to protect.
Also, I hold the film/television industry responsible as at least one of the contributors to such incidents. Women are either projected as "abla naari", servile, not able to take decisions for self, not able to leave a drunkard, wife-beating husband because of her children and societal ties.....OR ......women are projected as chikni chamelis having halkat jawanis performing the role of zandu balm on a man's body.
Some profound lyrics for your benefit:
"Aankhon ko kyu saeke, haathon se kar manmaani" - which basically means - why do you only ogle at me? Why don't you come grab my body?
"Ladkon ki ungli pe nache hai zamana....kudiyan hai, jaebon mein rakhle" - The world belongs to men.. women can be captured them in your pockets.
"baasuri jaisi baaji main, fatt she ho gayi raaji main"... He played me like a flute, and I immediately agreed (for sex)
Do I sound crazy to you right now? I am sure most of you will say I am reading too much into lyrics that were only written to make the songs catchy. However, my friends, this is the stuff we listen to on our iPods and radio, we watch this on TV with images of scantily clad women. This is what our children sing, this is what they watch.
I say, enough of these item numbers, enough of trying to attract people to theaters by holding out the carrot of an unbelievable, unachievable, unrealistic woman. This is not limited to the film industry. Ever wondered why it is NECESSARY for air-hostesses to be pretty and to have a perfect figure? Why should the hotel or office receptionist be hot and attractive? Is beauty helping any of these women work better?
STOP showcasing women as sex objects. STOP encouraging men to undress women in their minds, because beyond a point, they will do it with their hands.
I want to see the faces of the rapists, I want to see what kind of a man would get aroused seeing a woman getting beaten up, being forced into doing something she did not ask for, and being touched by five other men at the same time. This is bigger than we can imagine.
In those 35 minutes, she suffered. The physical damage is very little in comparison to the psychological trauma. Had she lived, she would have to answer questions in Court**, in front of an audience, with her rapists standing right across her... questions about how and where the men touched her, what they were wearing, what she was wearing, why it was possible for them to so easily tear off her clothes, what she did to excite them, how many times each guy thrust into her, if the act aroused her, how they were laughing and joking while this was happening to her. So yes, I am glad she died.
*These statistics are off the internet. Not sure about the source, but I am pretty sure they are a close representation of the real situation in India.
** These are questions asked to other rape victims, those that had the courage to come out and complain, but those that were never given any justice.