Rape. It isn’t anything new. Not in any sense. But the difference this time is that it was done unto a woman belonging to that diaspora of Indian society that we willed to make believe was beyond these things. 23 year old paramedic student in the Capital of this 1 Billion plus strong emerging economy. The location of rape, in a public transport bus bang in the middle of the capital city at an ordinary time of the night. Hey this sounds like me going every day from work or like my sister or my friend. In fact Nirbhaya wasn't even alone. This case just exposed what we’v been trying so hard to hide all this while- the fact that there is something wrong inherently with the way we define sexual freedom for our men & women.
Men in our society seem to think, nay are encouraged to think that desire for any woman is but natural and they ‘cant’ really do anything about it. Its nature. This ideology becomes explosively dangerous when it is extended to justify the violent and not-so-violent advances of men based on this ‘I-cant-help-It’ arousal of libido.
As Parents, Guardians, Elders, Teachers, advicers, how many of our Sons, Brothers, Friends and Students have we counseled and warned against such misplaced understanding of their own sexual freedom? Here in lies our failure as a society and also our contribution to instances of sexual violence against the women of the country.
I have personally faced sexual harassment as a girl, adolescent, teenager and, even as recently as yesterday, as a young adult. So what happened to Nirbhaya was no stray incident. Sexual violence is a daily reality for all women in this country from all socio-economic strata’s. Believe me because I have discussed much with women from all kinds of backgrounds and am yet to meet one who would say she has never faced sexual harassment of any kind.
Worse still is the fact that acts of sexual violence in word or deed do not come from strange ‘low class’ men on the streets but we Indian women have faced it in our Fathers, Uncles, Neighbors, Cousins, Lovers, Husbands, Father-In-Laws, Brother-in-Laws, Caretakers and just about every conceivable human relationship with men.
The onus is always on us the women to guard ourselves against the ‘nature’ of men while in fact it should be on men to set right their ‘nature’. This argument of ‘nature of men’ is not just barbaric but down right cannibalistic for human society.
I v had enough of this bullshit about men having no control over their natures. What it is in fact is society trying to tell us women that its just too much work to set right what should be. All I will for myself and for men & women who have the spine in their back is that lets please take a stand. Lets teach our Fathers, Uncles, Brothers, Lovers, Husbands and Sons , forcefully if we have to, that sexual abuse of their wifes or girlfriends or any other woman is the foulest most damning act ever. That it is infact equivalent, if not worse, than murder.
And lets please quit lecturing women on how to dress up. We really are in a situation where we cannot guarantee any women freedom from sexual viloence even if her physicality were completely hidden beneath 'Mummification'! I was harassed yesterday in the middle of a busy street and I was wearing the most baggy salwar kameez anyone can find. So how then is the argument of ‘dressing modestly’ even a weak contender as a measure of assuring freedom from sexual abuse?
The more we jump to first tell our women how to dress up, the more we run away nay encourage our men to renounce responsibility for their sexual barbarity. Hence these instances will never be eradicated nor even reduce until we lay the finger/cane/iron hand on the real reason- the twisted repressive definitions of sexual freedom for the genders. The definitions that are not written in dictionaries and text books but are etched and nurtured in the young boys of our society through the role plays they witness between the genders in their homes, schools, neighborhoods, movies and popular culture.
So be watchful now of how you treat your mother, wife, daughter and how you portray her in your novels & movies because if not as an equal in every sense, she will forever be condemned to damning sexual insecurity.
(I thank Em & Janice for encouraging me to write this blog. Also remember a special someone who wouldn't like to be mentioned here but who strengthens me in Love nonetheless)