My hair stands at the edge of my head when I hear of a woman being raped. It’s upset me to the extent that I have almost given up on reading the newspaper every morning.
Back in 2012, I picked up the morning paper to read of a young girl who had been gang raped by four men. The girl was returning home after enjoying a night show with her male friend. After spending countless minutes on a futile wait, the girl and her friend boarded a private bus to get home. This wasn’t the safest option, but they were left with no choice at that time of night. Within minutes of the bus progressing on route, the four men who were already on the bus, attacked the girl’s friend, and the girl (named Nirbhaya) was repeatedly raped by each of the four men. They boarded on only to be thrown out of the bus; brutally injured to the extent of iron rods being shoved up her privates damaging her entire intestinal system.
A Good Samaritan stopped and wheeled them off to a nearby hospital. On witnessing the severities of the internal injury caused by the iron rod, Nirbhaya was flown to Singapore for an intestinal transplant. But fate had other plans. She died on the thirteenth day after this carnal incident took place. The brutalities of the merciless rapists came pouring out into the media pushing this case on a fast track. Soon the rapists were hung to death.
The aftermath witnessed stringent amendments made in the Indian constitution rendering justice to the victim, and imparting to due punishment to the rapist. The officially recorded rape cases had curtailed considerably.
As we dig deeper, I learn from a young victim, who now works in the corporate space, and wishes to remain unnamed, she states, “Our nation pretty much works around religious ongoing. If we dig deeper, none of these religions have given women the required stature in society. This gives men an advantage over women. But with India bringing in a strong wave of feminism, one observes a wind of change, which has not quite gone down well with the men-folk. This is precisely why men use rape as a weapon to subjugate women.”
She wasn’t wrong for what she had stated. Women aren’t fortunate enough to occupy the forefront in the battle of the sexes.
Political parties are driven by the whims of religion and caste. Only the more famous religious leaders are followed, since they can swing the fate of a candidates vote bank bringing it to an all time high. Hence, even in a secular state like India, religion is directly or indirectly emphasized upon, compelling humanity and women’s rights to take the back seat.
The mere existence of a woman (and particularly the Indian woman) is tied down to the pillars of culture and tradition. In fact even today women cannot go out wearing a cute short dress, as it makes a man feel ‘awkward.’ The awkwardness lies in how a modern, liberal woman is viewed.
After the Nirbhaya case was closed, prominent politicians and surprisingly even women activists stated that women these days are going all out to attract male attention. According to them, women shouldn’t cross the limit, and must remain in their ‘maryaadaa’ (limits). But isn’t India a democracy? Isn’t every human being (regardless of their sex) given the right to do what he or she wants? But most important of all, is the woman her own enemy? As a writer, I will certainly contest the very foundation of the Indian constitution.
The outcry of rape victims took a quantum leap in the early weeks of April 2018. The Asifa Bano rape case involved the brutal rape of an eight-year-old Muslim child belonging to the tribal family. The Hindus of the area were infuriated with the mere presence of the Muslim tribal people. To teach them a lesson a man named Sanji Ram, drew up a plan to abduct the girl, and lock her off in a remote shrine after drugging her, and rape her till she breathed her last. The out cry of the family shook the whole nation compelling the lawmakers to further beef up the laws to ensure the rape victims get their due justice.
The point that I want to underline here is; in the village regions, rape is used as a means of existing in the peace of ones religion and community, without the interference or co-existence of the people of another religion or caste.
If we take a bird’s eye view on the above-mentioned cases, we also learn that metropolitans thirst for a labour force that can take corporate ventures miles up the ladder. In many cases women are used to accentuate company stocks. They are then undermined and pinned down by the whims of social obligations that curb their wings.
It has been officially recorded that the heroines of Bollywood earn far less as compared to men. It’s believed that women have a limited ‘Shelf-life’. Once she is married or passes her age, her beauty diminishes with age. Also there is a growing demand for younger talent that’s fast picked on to rule the silver screen.
Change is on the cards, but nothing quite happens overnight. Somehow Indian men ‘accidently’ revisit their roots from time to time. And it only takes the more emancipated woman to then show them their space and put the train back on its track.
As I key off I’d only like to state, that I would never want anyone to recognize India as a hotbed for rape cases. We should arm the youth with values that also put women in the forefront.
Written by Heer Kothari