“Now, should we treat women as independent agents, responsible for themselves? Of course. But being responsible has nothing to do with being raped. Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they weren’t careful enough. Women get raped because someone raped them.”
Jessica Valenti, The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women
Since the last few days my mind has been pre-occupied with the dark and gory crimes I seem to be reading everywhere. Few days back I read this article a friend had shared on facebook. It highlighted the plight of young Muslim girls’ victim to molestation by none other than their Quran teacher. When confronted the teacher called the poor girls "possessed by some demon" which further elevated their agony by hands of their parents.
Another story I read was of an uncle promising young school girls easy money and dragging them into sex trade. The uncle took counselling sessions and explained to the girls that what he wanted them to do was nothing but a game by means to which they will always earn. The children vulnerable at this age and in a condition to withstand the peer pressure are an easy prey and easily surrender to these type of demands.
The hattrick to this was the story of gruesome murder of Pallavi (a lawyer) by her guard. What is happening in the world around us? If you can't even sleep peacefully at your own home, then where else can you feel safe? The situation of living on a sharing basis does not allow you to lock the doors before you sleep. People will come at different times and it is not possible to keep ringing the bell and expecting someone to open it. So where does that leave people like us? I am startled by thinking of so many times I and my flatmates have slept without locking the door. The thought of what all could have happened gives me Goosebumps.
The shocking death of Pallavi has sent panic waves not just in Mumbai but across the whole country. Mumbai is supposed to be the safest city for women. Girls can roam on the streets of Mumbai as late as midnight. I have on many occasions travelled alone and with friends in wee hours of night without thinking twice. But now I will surely stop and think twice before taking any such step. The feeling of being vulnerable is not at all a good one. The fact that even though you are independent you still need a man by your side for your safety. The feeling of helplessness when someone touches you in an obscene way in a crowded place and you can't do a thing about it.
Believe me I have also tried the other way and fell straight on my face. Once at a crowded station I made the mistake of shouting at a man who happened to grope me from behind. After a few unpleasant exchanges, the man came straight to abuses. Now while I may exchange some hardcore cuss words playfully with my buddies sometimes, I am not a public abuser. Hence I could do nothing but stare blankly at my well armed opponent. The best way to dodge an accusation from a girl - start shouting loud and obscene abuses.
I don't even want to get into the what-did-the-other-people-standing-there-do part. The spectators will always to what they have to. Watch with no participation, active or otherwise. I am sure that there is not even a single girl in India who has not been touched in an obscene way atleast once in her lifetime. And please it has got nothing to do with the way we dress and attract attention. I have a few questions for people who seem to think so. What makes you think that a girl will dress while thinking "Yes, let me wear that and get raped" or "Yea, this one is good to get raped". Also if we are dressing provocatively, does that automatically give you licence to rape? If that is the case the crime rate against women should be the highest in those exotic foreign locale beaches where women freely roam around wearing bikinis. I am not promoting provocative dressing here but all I am saying is that in a democratic country, a person should atleast be free to choose and wear the clothes that they want to. When men do not think twice before stepping out freely in boxers or proudly decorating the public walls with their urine why should a woman think about the whole society while doing a simple activity of choosing her clothes?
This debate can go on forever but the bottom line is, what is the solution of all this? What is the solution of the fact that my parents are freaking the hell out since they heard about the Pallvi case. What is the solution of their and thousand other parents’ anxiety who constantly worry about their daughters safety. Why doesn't a person fear the consequences of an act as gruesome as this? If it would have been upon me I would call for a capital punishment for this heinous crime (no I am not inspired by Gangs of Wasseypur).
While reading various links on this very topic I came across N number of reasons a person would commit the crime of raping. They ranged from anger to power and from revenge to sadistic pleasure. I was surprised to see that Lust did not feature in this list even though it is perceived to be one of the strongest reasons behind rape
The theory that really stuck with me was that still in some societies women are perceived as mere objects of pleasure. It is usually that the people from this background cannot stand women being successful and outgoing. Interesting stuff. So after 65 years of Independence and with all the big talk of women empowerment we come plunging back to history where women has no respect, no rights and no safety.