Surajkund Stabbing: Do Gender Crimes Spark Outrage Only When They Are Brutal?

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Civil defence officer death: Gender crimes are, unfortunately, a daily affair in India. A new day brings many new headlines of rapes, harassment, assaults, abuse, violence, murder… the list never ceases. ‘Are women safe in the country?’ is the now naive-sounding question always at the centre of this discourse. Perhaps the more useful question to ask would be: ‘Are enough people asking that question enough times?’

A 21-year-old woman working as a civil defence officer was allegedly stabbed to death by her male friend in Faridabad in a case that has shocked the national conscience – at least for those who are in the know about it. Mainstream media has granted the gruesome death case little to no attention, with the maximum spotlight on it coming from social media through angry hashtags and offline, through street protests.

The deceased resided in Sangam Vihar in the national capital, from where she was allegedly kidnapped, raped and murdered, according to reports. The accused who claimed to have killed her surrendered soon after the incident late last month, alleging the dead woman was his wife. More on the case here.

There is looming fear – of the valid kind – that the death of this particular civil defence officer, shrouded in mystery and gore, will soon lie buried in the pile of other gender crime cases that weren’t fortunate enough to be spared the same outrage their few selected counterparts were.

Of course, there is no reason to compare these cases regarding women save for the fact that their underlying foundation is often built from a common enemy: patriarchy. Every case holds invaluable, distinct significance. But cherrypicking them for public outrage isn’t yielding any solutions to curbing gender crimes.

Are We Outraging Enough? Civil Defence Officer Death Raises Urgent Questions

What is it that drives our disgust? To our minds, do some sexual abuse cases warrant greater fury than others? Why is the Faridabad stabbing not creating as big an impact as did the 2012 Delhi gangrape case? Or why is it not gaining virality to the extent that the Ballabgarh daylight shooting of a woman did last year? Alternatively, how many gender crime cases in the country are even being granted the scant notice the Faridabad stabbing is getting?

More frighteningly, just how many cases aren’t even making it to official reports and police complaints? 

The pit of information when it comes to assault and rape crimes is endless. Women know it best since, lifelong, we inevitably have to exist with our feet dangling off the edge of that pit – danger that trails gender. Every news headline about a woman killed for refusing a romantic proposal, stalked for walking out late on the streets, groped for simply being in public reads like a death knell to us.

Each is a possibility. Is this how I will go too?

But for the rest of society, which seems to be becoming increasingly desensitised to gender crimes given the volume of daily cases, there is picking and choosing. ‘Which one goes viral today? Is it sensational enough to be talked about? What is more heinous – a rape or a decapitation? If the media has missed the other cases, then why must we shoulder the burden of talking about it?’

Some days, sexual assault cases make for prime time debates for days on end. On others, they are brushed aside for bits as cheap and juicy as celebrity baby gossip

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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