“A slut is someone, usually a woman, who’s stepped outside of the very narrow lane that good girls are supposed to stay within. Sluts are loud. We’re messy. We don’t behave. In fact, the original definition of “slut” meant “untidy woman.” But since we live in a world that relies on women to be tidy in all ways, to be quiet and obedient and agreeable and available (but never aggressive), those of us who color outside of the lines get called sluts. And that word is meant to keep us in line.”
― Jaclyn Friedman
“Actually, nothing hurts like hearing the word slut, unless it is hearing the word rape dropped about carelessly. Again, a word I wouldn’t have thought much about, except that when I was in high school a girl gave her senior speech on her best friend’s rape. She ended not with an appear for women’s rights or self defense, but by begging us to consider our language. We use the word ‘rape’ so casually, for sports, for a failed test, to spice up jokes. ‘The test raped me.’ ‘His smile went up to justifiable rape.’ These references confer casualness upon the word, embedding it into our culture, stripping it of shock value, and ultimately numb us to the reality of rape.”
― Christine Stockton
Are we tending to a new normal- a rape culture? Event, outrage, memories, metaphors, and then again events…. Again and again…? Where are we going?
India felt let down for what happened in Kathua and Unnao and now in Surat. Girls of India are scared, irrespective of their gold medals and shining performance in a variety of areas, they are not sure they are safe! India, nevertheless, salutes Gopal S. Chaturvedi, the advocate of Allahabad High Court, who chose to speak and wage a battle against such injustice and brutality while India was shocked and wordless! India loves his humanism and audacity! He is a man! Later Prime Minster expressed his pain on these brutal and inhuman acts and said (April 15) that incidents like these could not be a part of any civilised society and promised to make sure that the culprits do not get away– “As a country, as a society we all are ashamed of it (rapes). I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared, complete justice will be done. Our daughters will definitely get justice.”
For people it is hard to understand how can a law maker be a rapist? How can a rapist win an election? That is what allegedly happened in Unnao. And police picked up the father of the victim who was brutally beaten by the men of the lawmaker and the perpetrators of crime remained scot free. Later the father of the victim died in police custody with severe wounds. That is how the law and order machinery failed. The people who mattered kept silent, and Gopal S. Chaturvedi decided to file a PIL.
Ruling on a PIL petition filed by senior advocate Gopal S. Chaturvedi, who had raised questions on why the police had not arrested the MLA, the Allahabad High Court came down strongly on the Yogi Adityanath government, saying, “The disturbing feature of the case is that the law and order machinery and the government officials were directly in league and under the influence” of the MLA. The Allahabad High Court directed (April 13) the CBI to arrest BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, accused of abduction and rape of a minor girl in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. Taking over the probe, the CBI lodged three FIRs in the case. A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dilip B. Bhosale and Justice Suneet Kumar said the approach of the State Advocate General, who argued that the accused MLA could not be arrested due to insufficient evidence, “not only exudes an unpleasant flavour, but raises doubts about the bona fides of the police authorities at the highest level.” The court said, “In our opinion, arrest of the accused in the present case is necessarily required to safeguard the majesty of law and the dignity of the prosecutrix (the minor) and to instill confidence that free and fair investigation shall be undertaken by the Investigating agency.” Citing the SIT report on the incidents, the court lambasted the police and doctors, who treated the minor’s father, for tampering with evidence and trying to “create terror and intimidating” the minor and her family.
Earlier in January a brutal rape and murder case was reported from Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir. The Kathua rape case involving Asifa was a reminder of how low sick people can go. The case involving abduction, rape, and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Rasana village near Kathua in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in January 2018 was one of ugliest acts by anti social and criminal elements. A charge sheet for the case has been filed, and the accused have been arrested and are expected to be tried in a court of law. The victim, Asifa Bano, belonged to the nomad Bakarwal community. She disappeared for a week before her dead body was discovered by the villagers a kilometer away from the village. The incident made national news when charges were filed against eight men in April 2018. The arrests of the accused led to protests from groups, one of which was attended by two ministers from the Bharatiya Janata Party, both of whom have now resigned. The rape and murder, as well as the support the accused received sparked widespread outrage.
In yet another case of horrific brutality to a minor girl in Surat, Gujarat police has found the body of a 9-year-old girl with more than 80 injuries, including some on her private parts. According to the media reports, the post-mortem report of the minor has revealed that she was raped and tortured before being strangled to death. The police had found the body on 6 April at a ground in Surat’s Bhestan area. The victim is yet to be identified. The post-mortem report also revealed that she was tortured for more than six days as the 86 external injuries, she sustained, were inflicted over a week. Most of the injuries were caused by a wooden object.
The larger question is not about involvement of any political party—it is only incidental that rapists have allegiance to this party or that party and who safeguarded the perpetrators of crime. The more troubling question is about the deep rooted perversion in society and about the way we educate and groom our boy children to develop a wrong image and perception in their minds about girls or women as a sex object and an inferior gender, a pleasure thing! The aggression of men against women takes a variety of forms, rape being one of them. There are many other forms of injustice and discrimination and we see in everyday life how women are treated as ‘second sex’. We know girls face nutritional discrimination from childhood, lack of opportunity and exposure, harassment and discrimination at work place and last but not the least domestic violence at home. Another troubling trend is that irrespective of education and economic status large number of men still continue to imagine women as an ‘item girl’ or a ‘thing of sexual pleasure’ only as if they do not have other ‘human identities’ as individuals or living being. We see how the level of commitment or tolerance of such brutalities belies our education or social position. There are rapists everywhere. Our daughters are not safe in womb; they are not safe out of the womb either. And stigma of rape lies with the rape victim rather than the male perpetrators of the crime.
We need to have a serious introspection by all the stakeholders, how do we want to develop our culture and what place we want to give to our daughters, who would be the future mothers and companions on which the failure and success of new millennium India would depend. Laws offer only a partial solution, what we need is a 360 degree change in attitude. The million dollar question is how will it be possible? Do we have answers? We can have answers only if we are honest and determined. How can a rapist be a lawmaker? Why people vote for such people? Why the people in power and authority keep silent and institutions immobile when such heinous crimes are committed? Nirbhaya must be disappointed in her grave, India has not changed much since she was raped and brutalized! A society which does not respect woman can never be happy. Have we chosen to be so? The heart of millions of common men of India aches. They might be wondering on the initiative called Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao. What for? Rape? Let’s seek in our hearts do we respect other women as we intend others should respect our mothers, sisters and daughters? Do we really want to give freedom, dignity and equal opportunity to our daughters and sisters? Why are we so sick? Does the most fundamental unit of institution called families bother how their sons are groomed to imagine and visualize the ‘other sex?’