It has become kind of a pattern by now. A woman is brutally raped (gang raped), killed. All media person go on overdrive, have debates in their studios about our society, how our society has changed, on daily assaults on women. Newspaper headlines blare their indignation and anger, with some of them even launch a campaign on her name. The suspects are arrested, brought in front of world with help of media. A fast-track court is set up to ensure speedy justice. The trial goes on and on until the case fades from our memories & media. And then, another rape or gang-rape, and we start the complete path again.
It’s even sad to say, if we get justice in such case and the culprit is minor then he would be sent to confinement for three years at a reformatory home (the maximum punishment under the law for minor).
First up, is the myth that the women are somehow responsible for rape. Why was she out so late at night? Why was she wearing a short skirt/top? Why did she go to such a lonely spot? Why did she agree to take a lift from a stranger? Why she is out of home so late? Why did she believe that she can do everything that a male can do? Why was she drunk? Why she wore such clothes that seduced him? Why didn’t she call her potential rapist ‘Bhaiya’ and ask for mercy Not to Rape her? Why? Everyone starts blaming her like its only due to her she got raped.
And then the suggestions : Do not go out alone at any time. Women are most likely to be raped outside, in dark alleyways late at night. This is the best way for a woman to protect herself.
The questions continues until the woman ends up feeling like a criminal rather than a victim or survivor of a crime. In one way or the other, she is accused of having ‘asked for it’. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong clothes with the wrong people. It is her fault.
No matter what she may have worn, no matter how late it was, no matter how she may have behaved, and no matter how much alcohol was involved, the rape was not her fault. It never is. No woman ‘asks’ to be raped. No woman ever. It is just a myth which is corroding the society and helping the rapists to find excuses for the heinous crime. It is not a matter of pride for her, not even a matter of honour rather it is a nightmare, a curse in the worst form with which she will have to live all life long (only if she survives).
For any woman her respect and dignity is the most important and what is worse is that our society makes it a point that once a woman has lost it (as they call it) she never gets it back, when actually she is as pure and as respectable as she had always been. The one who has lost respect is the accused but unfortunately in India’s patriarchal society the male community is never blamed. They never have to live with that regret. They are never forced to regret.
We do not need laws, we have enough. All we need is to teach our boys that girls are not objects on whom they can show their power. All we need is to help our girls understand that nobody can snatch the dignity they are born with. A girl has the power to create, nurture and transform. No man has it and no man can destroy it. All we need is to teach our society to be a little more tolerant and humane. A rape survivor is as humane as you and me are. And we never know tomorrow it might be, God forbid, our daughter, sister or partner