The murder of the 35-year-old army wife Shailza Dwivedi at the hands of an acquainted officer has opened a can of worms full of obsession and deceit. The accused not only brutally murdered Dwivedi before running her over with his car, he was apparently obsessed with her. The accused Major Nikhil Handa is in police custody now, while news and social media are busy devouring every angle of this high-profile murder case.

The “morally righteous” brigade on Twitter, is busy shaming Dwivedi for Handa’s manic obsession with her. The news media has made it a point to report every controversial detail about the kind of relationship Handa and Dwivedi shared. According to a report, there were some 3,500 calls and messages between Dwivedi and Handa since January last year. Another report suggests that Dwivedi’s husband once “caught” them on a video call. He apparently also disapproved of his wife’s friendship with Handa.

Stop jumping to conclusions

People are making crass remarks about the late beauty contestant and even reasoning that she deserved such a gruesome end. Instead of blaming Handa for losing his temper and cutting a beautiful young woman’s life short, people are scrutinising Dwivedi’s character. What kind of friendship did she share with Handa? Why was she talking to him despite being forbidden by her husband? Clearly, she was having an affair, despite being married, which is why she deserved such a death!

Shailza’s shaming on the news and on social media reflects the victim blaming culture which infests our country. Be it murder, rape, molestation or even harassment, the society always finds a way to blame women for atrocities committed against them. From being too friendly, to wearing short clothes or for using smartphones to eating chow mien why does the society always hold women accountable? If we reverse the genders here, would people make similar snide remarks at a male victim?

Dwivedi is no longer alive to tell her side of the story. All people are basing their conjunctures on, are scandalous news reports. It doesn’t matter what the nature of Dwivedi’s friendship with Handa was. Or whether Dwivedi was in a fulfilling marriage or was she cheating on her husband or not. What we know for a fact is that Handa cut a woman’s throat in rage and then mowed her with his car to make it look like an accident.

There is no justification for what he did. So people need to stop shaming a dead woman. Grant her some dignity amidst all the dirt that is being flung around over the circumstances of her death.

Millions of Indian women suffer violence in our country just because inflamed Indian male egos cannot take “no” for an answer. So, inevitably it is our social structure and the leeway which men are given, despite the bad conduct, which is to be blamed.

In blaming Dwivedi and many women like her, the society is trying to shirk off the part of the blame which lies on it. If it cannot teach men to take rejection, or to stop harassing women in name of love, because this is what men do, then every day a Shailza dies, the blame for her murder is as much on the society as it is on the killer. But it certainly doesn’t lie with women who are victims of both male aggression and social bias.

Picture credit: dnaindia.com

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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