Let’s take a hypothetical situation. A group of heavily armed goons breaks into the house of a lady who stays all alone, and at gunpoint demands her to hand over all her valuables. Being a strong woman, both physically and emotionally, she isn’t a very easy target for the intruders. She resists hard and in the due course of the brave fight that she puts forward, she is bruised, hurt, threatened and terrified. Eventually she has to give in to their demands. With the shock of the incident still heavy on her mind, she picks up her phone with shaky hands to call up the police and her friends and family.
What happens next, we all know. The police do their routine investigations, friends and family console her, support her and pat her back for putting forward a tough fight. The local newspaper correspondent records her statement and runs a half page story the next day with a color photo of the lady. She goes to work, people at the workplace show their concern for her health and safety and give her an army salute for her bravery. Life is normal and regular for her, and why shouldn’t it be, she has done nothing wrong, she is just a victim.
Now imagine another hypothetical situation where the lady wasn’t looted, but raped at gunpoint. This would alter the entire second paragraph of what I wrote. First, the family would be in more shock than the victim and would want less and less people know about what happened. Police would detain the identity of the victim; her name would not come up anywhere. The newspaper can’t even think of publishing her name, forget publishing her photo. Wherever she has to make an appearance, be it the police station or court hearings, her face would be covered in black. All of this because she was raped. Because she was raped no one will marry her. So for a brighter future of the girl, she is kept in darkness. After all in our great country sex is the meter for measuring the purity of a woman.
What justice for rape and safety for women are we talking about in this society where we psychologically cannot accept a rape victim? Why do we need to hide her face and name, just because she was raped? Why are the faces of the victims blurred when they come in front of the television to speak out? Are they ashamed of something? This only goes to speak about the shallowness of the society that we live in. No matter which century we live in, Indians can never rise above the ancient beliefs about the purity and sanctity of a woman. Rape naturally means that the victim had sexual contact with another man. Her parents have the fear that no one will ever marry their daughter; they will become social outcasts. A rape victim cannot have a regular life in this country.
There cannot be a stricter rape law then coming out of this social stigma, which does not allow a rape victim to live. She does not need to hide her face or name. She needs to come out in open and say what happened. By throwing her in darkness we are making the rapists powerful. Imagine because of the stigma of rape how many women have silenced their voice to complain. Hanging the rapists won’t help till we evolve as a society where we can accept the victims they way they are.
In a truly evolved society, rape would be considered a crime and not a social stigma; where people realize that if a woman has sexual contact with a man with or without her consent than that does not make her impure. Purity and impurity are in the minds, not in the bodies. Equality for a woman would be achieved that day when a victim of robbery and a victim of rape would be treated equally.
Rape doesn’t take away the honor of the girl, like burglary doesn’t take way the honor of your house.
By Akuti Ojah
Image Source: Fight Against Rape@Facebook