As a teenager, I often complained to my mother about the ogles I got on the streets. She told me not to wear short skirts and be careful… “After all, we live in a conservative society,” she warned. But I eventually realized no matter what I wore, how I walked, some men felt they could look at me as if I were an object, as if they could overpower me at any moment and no one would care. Much later, I learnt in my Women Rights course: Ogling in itself is visual rape.
RAPE… (Sigh!!!) The word, no longer startles me; I am seeped in sexual violence to such a degree that I now have started to normalize it like many others. Rape terrifies me, frustrates me, but it’s everywhere … the countless experiences of sexual assault, rape, and incest in my country shape much of my narrative as a survivor today.
While the rape reported to media, is much like a sporting event, what’s more unfortunate are the ones that do not get reported (and there are hundreds of them). Like other forms of violence against women – in the form of bride burnings, wife battering, Rape too occurs out of the public eye and remains that way. Fear, shame, guilt and lack of faith in police and in Judiciary force rape to remain an act forgotten with silence… even today!
While there is something profoundly wrong in the values of men in our society — values which bind the parental preference for a male child that lead them to commit these heinous crime, the million dollar question comes up time and again is “How do we punish rapists?”
Those talking about changing the misogynistic attitude in society, let me warn you, it may take another 200 years to change this! And hanging rapists till death. That’s no solution to stop rape! Why do we anyway let these monsters make peace with death?
While a friend of mine suggested castration as the ultimate punishment, she says, “Cut it out to stop such shameful acts and stamp the word ‘RAPIST’ on their forehead, so that each time they see themselves in the mirror, they are reminded of the crime they have committed,” I partially agreed to her. I closed my eyes and sighed a relief… for a moment it felt good…!
But I had the doubt whether our so called democracy will allow them to put up posters with their faces and let the public decide if they are ready to accept such people in society.
My thought was similar though not the same… I strongly believe rapists should go through the same torture and then made to parade naked and publicly beaten up by woman who they dared to touch. Only when the rapists go through the same hell they forced the victim to, when they will be made to feel the same pain, agony and trauma, it will be an eye for the eye. After all, it’s an equal world and that’s how it should be perceived, isn’t it? Well, and then if they are publicly stoned to death – guess none of us have a problem (sorry for this one crime reformers and human rights activists!!!).
And what about the bigger problem? Are we ready to help the victims cope with the trauma and agony after rape? The answer is probably ‘not yet’… the interrogation, the medical exam, the humiliating details, and the intense media glare – aren’t these as violating as the rape? And then label her as “different” is to doubly victimize her. In any civilized society, the burden of “shame” associated with rape lie only with the perpetrators, not the victim, for our information.
Wake up mighty Indians! It’s time for some shame… Indeed! it is time for us to feel the searing shame our society has until now only imposed on its female victims. It’s time to sit up and talk about Rape… and its actions!
And women, a word or two for Us too! Till the time activists and pundits strive to bring in social change and legal reform, learn some martial arts so that you can protect yourselves in the event of an attack. Woman, you are not an object for male consumption, a commodity in the sex bazaar. It’s time to speak up, to act and stand up for your rights!