By- Medha Gupta, Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology, Bangalore
Just when India was supposedly progressing in terms of gender equality (Read: Success of ‘The Dirty Picture’, practically a one-woman show!), our dear government of Gurgaon goes and does something beautifully regressive! Women are advised to not work beyond 8 pm because that’ll just invite rape, of course!
Who cares that this affects so many working women for no fault of theirs except for being born with a vagina. Who cares that rapes will continue to happen because this won’t stop them rapists from becoming lusty before 8 pm. It’s still the right way to go simply because well, as a government we’re helpless against criminals aren’t we? We endeavour not to provide solace or closure to victims but convenience to the criminals. And, of course, we want to make sure that these society-shaping rapists return home in time to have a decent, family meal after having exhausted themselves in raping women the whole day. They work so hard, you see, how can all their efforts not be rewarded?
What makes me so very angry about this situation is actually not any of the above, after all one could still naively say that this was something that happened as a result of a grave error in judgement on the government’s part, or maybe they were just drunk when they released this statement. No, what really annoys me about this whole issue is that no matter what you do, nothing, absolutely nothing can ever bring the rapists to truly appreciate the kind of trauma and agony they inflict on a woman by forcing her to submit to their carnal desires. No amount of torture or humiliation or even bodily disfigurement, to be extreme, can make them understand what a woman goes through. Nothing, not even remorse for their actions can make them appreciate the vast magnitude of the pain they’ve caused.
This is a crime where the victim is blamed more than the criminal. Even if we’re living in a so-called progressive society, the victim is still not free from societal blames. Your clothes were wrong. Your behaviour was inappropriate. You walk was suggestive. You stood out too much. You invited them. You. You. You. Always the woman is to be blamed. When will we understand, women. Do. Not. Ask. To be. Raped. Nor do they go out in bikinis searching for hooligans to inflict that on them.
We can never completely imagine the horror a rape victim experiences but we can try and so, as a society we need to stop for a moment and try, try to understand the gravity of the crime and what it means to a woman before we blame her for everything. I remember during the Noida Gang Rape case that happened sometime back, there was a huge media frenzy surrounding the case and that having been a time when I used to read the papers, I ended up following the case for a while. There was a period initially when the perpetrators’ family were supportive of the victim. When the rapists continued to abscond however, the families changed their statements, and quite rapidly so. One guy even went so far as to say, “So what, she was only raped. No big deal. Plus, she was fooling around with her boyfriend. She was just inviting trouble.” I stopped reading newspapers after that.
Maybe my actions were a little extreme, but sometimes that’s all one can do. And I had to do what I did or else I would have gone completely mad. I’m not a cynic by nature but was my faith in the world shaken that day, and how. But, the way things are going on right now, the only way my extreme measures will work is if I went and hid in cave and didn’t come out till the situation got resolved, all the while hoping that a rapist won’t find me there, even though that’s the more likely scenario! Call me out of there, won’t you?!