It was past midnight when she finally got the chance to have a look at the time. She was running late on her submissions so she decided to stay back and finish them off. Her office was deserted, almost everyone had left sharp at nine. They had parents, a wife or a husband, children to look after while she was alone and independently living in this metropolitan city. She had dreams, she was ambitious and she wasn’t going to let time hold her back.
She collected her possessions, some important documents and stuffed her house keys in her purse. Her phone had died and the only thing she could pray now was some rest and food. She switched off the only source of light on her desk and walked out of the office.
The street light adjoining the office wasn’t working properly; she never bothered to pay attention to it since this was the first time she ever left this late. Her eyelids were closing and the entire day’s hard work and energy was finally wearing off. Fifteen more minutes and she would be safely tucked in her bed, she said to herself.
Who knew those fifteen minutes would change her life, forever?
As she walked towards the station, she finally realized that there were hardly any people around, let alone a companion till her house. She tied her hair in a pony and walked straight towards her platform, ignoring any other things around her. But there was something, rather someone, following her footsteps. He was called Darkness. She was oblivious to his harmonious footsteps, she was oblivious to his perverted thoughts, and she was oblivious to the Darkness which was going to grow around her.
She looked around and finally saw him. He was standing a few steps away, acting as if he is a local at this time. She ignored him and her breath started increasing. After waiting for a good two minutes, she heard the loud blaring whistle of the train and she thanked God. Maybe too soon?
As soon as she climbed the train, the man followed. Her suspicions grew so she stood at the door. The man slowly started walking towards her. She walked back, he followed. She started running, he followed. He hit her, she tried to free herself but maybe he was too strong or she was too scared. She screamed and screamed for help but the only person who could hear her was the one who was making her shout. She collapsed and finally all she could see was Darkness. She was forced against her will, she was abused.
She was raped.
Every morning when I open any newspaper to have a look at the current issues surrounding our country, a constant which always catches my eye are the rape articles. It’s no secret that India is known as the rape capital but do we, as Indians, take pride in this? If you say ‘no’ then you may be wrong because if we weren’t proud of this, then the rape statistics would drop whereas in reality, it is increasing every month.
We treat Indian Goddesses with so much of love, affection and respect. We worship our own mothers, we even happen to love our ‘Dharti Ma’. Then why do we not respect our women? Then why is it that rape has slowly become a ‘culture’ everyone just talks about and continue with their life? Why aren’t women treated with the same amount of respect the Goddesses get?
The answer sadly is ignored.
Today, there are so many grave issues in front of our society that instead of facing them we are trying to hide them behind a mask. This gives a chance to the ones who are behind these crimes. Instead of hiding them, let’s face them for once to find a solution. After the research I did on ‘Rapes in India’ I realized that it is one of the most hidden yet talked about crimes. Statistically, 24,923 rape cases were registered in the year 2012. And in 98% of the cases, the victim knew the alleged rapist. Statistics and numbers aside, every time a woman is raped, she is forced, abused and her opinion strongly does not matter.
16th December’ 2012. I’m sure most of you remember this black day in the history of India. This day marked one of the most horrific rapes of all time in India on a medical student in a moving bus. The way this rape took place showed that the rapists weren’t even scared of the consequences of their dreadful act. Hundreds of candle light marches took place; thousands of people raised their voice against the injustice which happened not in favor of Nirbhaya; many politicians made promises on how they will make not only Delhi, but every other city and village in India, a better and safe environment for women.
But today, after almost two years, we don’t see any difference in our system. The daytime is just not safe like the night time, the rape statistics are on a rise and the politicians are still heating their seats. The only difference I have observed is the mindset of the people. Candle light marches, petitions for a change, hunger strike doesn’t show that ‘we are having enough problems so let’s get over with this one’ but rather it shows, ‘we are united and we are going to fight against the system’.
And fight, we will.
One of the incidences which set goosebumps on my hand was covered in all newspapers in the year 2011. The girl, Rachna (name changed), 12, was abducted in broad daylight and raped vigorously by four men. When she didn’t return home at night, her parents got worried. Two days later, she was found unconscious and naked near a gutter. After Rachna could finally accept the misfortune which happened to her, she decided to file an FIR against the rapists. As the rapists belonged to a rich and wealthy family of that village, the policemen decided not to get involved in that case and they thought it would be better to inform the rapists about Rachna’s decision.
When Rachna was alone at home a few weeks later, the four accused men raped her again. Also, they warned her that if she goes to file another complain, her parents will be killed immediately and she would be kidnapped.
Rachna’s resolve was broken after that. A lively 12 year old girl, who could have played with her friends, gone to school and complete her education was fighting with life everyday to keep her family safe, and to keep the faces of the rapists and their filthy hands away.
Scared of the warning imposed on them, Rachna’s parents decided to leave the town without informing anyone. A few months later, the family of one of the rapists found out their whereabouts and they seized the opportunity when Rachna was alone at home and they burned her alive. Yes, you read it right.
Her father, shocked from the trauma, says, “She was my only girl. The only thing which kept us going after she was raped the first time was her resolve and determination to send the rapists behind the bar. I don’t know what will keep us going now.”
Is our system not strong enough to support someone who is ready to fight? Someone who is ready to bend but not break? Or is our system strong enough to break anyone’s resolve that goes against them?
We are living under the notion that only women who wear little clothing or women who tend to stay out at night are the ones who fall prey to this demeanor nature. But, when will we accept that these acts DO happen to senior citizens above the age of 70-80 and also, children below the age of 12? And when will we accept that only and only the mentality of the person can change this and not what a woman wears or when she is outside the safe parameters of her house? After this act, the victims are killed in a horrendous way just to hide the crime and I have no clue why they even deserved this.
The bottom line isn’t to feel bad for a moment and continue with our daily life, but it is to bring about a change in ourselves and later, in others. Why can’t we accept the rape victim when the accused is easily bailed out?
Amidst all the chaos surrounding a rape situation, does anyone care to feel what the victim is feeling? The victim goes through hundreds of emotions. She feels sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety but moreover, she feels disgust. Disgust for having those hands around her, disgust to watch those monstrous faces and disgust to go through something so foreign, she wouldn’t have even thought about it once before.
‘My eyes closed when I let go from the pain I couldn’t tolerate anymore. My body had given up and I couldn’t talk to myself, let alone begging for them to stop. The next time my eyes opened, I was in a clinic. Who brought me here?
I looked around and saw many, many people staring at me. Why are they staring at me? I looked down and immediately grabbed the duvet to cover myself. A man in a white coat was pointing at me and next to him, stood someone I knew. I knew this woman who was sobbing uncontrollably. She is my mother. Her pallu is soaked in tears and that’s when I realized, I can’t feel my tears at all.
The next time my eyes opened, it was due to the cold water which was splashed on my face. My face feels cold and my body numb. I looked around and found myself in a police station. More than 15 men were staring at me, and I couldn’t trace one familiar face. Where are my parents? The policeman comes near me and stares at me with, I don’t know, disgust on his face? What have I done?
“Rape hua hai.” He screams to someone. I want to hide my face in shame. Why are they talking as if I’ve done this on my own?
“Pehena kya tha?” Another one asks me. I want to find my voice but I can’t. My vocals have died and my legs hurt.
“Kitne baje bahar thi?”
“Kitni pi rakhi thi?”
“Kahan, kahan chua?” All questions are pounced on me. Everyone waits for me to say something, and that’s when something clicks inside me. Something burns inside me. They think it is my fault that I am raped.
My chest burns with anger and I try to stand up. I am raped, I am actually raped and these are the types of questions they wish to ask me? What am I, some kind of porn? I can’t hide my face in shame, I can’t let their disgusted faces let me down. I am raped and this is not my fault. I wore a pair of jeans and a full sleeve Tshirt, I was supposed to be home before nine and even if I did wear a short skirt and I was out after midnight, they do not have a right to take advantage of my body without my permission.
Nobody asked me about the rapist, how did they look or about their choices.
I get up from the filthy police station, I feel like I was raped again and I try to walk out. I find my mother on the way. As I leave the police station, I find many cameras clicking me. Instinct leads me to cover my face which I don’t. I can’t. I keep my hands down and let them click my unmasked face. Tomorrow, maybe I will be on every newspaper. Maybe, everyone will blame me or maybe, I will have to stay indoors all the while.
Or maybe, I will be the voice of every quiet woman. I will be the hope every abused woman wants or I simply may fight for the injustice against me.
I did not ask for it and I never will. It was against my will and India will progress when they accept this. I have stumbled upon rape culture: a culture in which sexual violence is the norm and victims are blamed for their own assaults.
I will fight and I will rise.’
Note: Image used in this post is only for representational purpose.