India united with the success of Chandrayaan, but they remain silent and divided each time there is one more violent crime committed against a woman. Each day we hear of a bigger case than yesterday, where a woman is outraged. It makes me wonder why and how the anger isn’t sparked enough among us, to start a bonfire to bring such crime to an end, like ashes.
Where do the perpetrators even muster the courage to do this over and over again? Despite rape cases that reach the national media, making us shake in shock and bleed tears of helplessness, the grim reality is that, even 2023 gets off to a sinister rise in crimes committed against women. It has already registered an increase of 15 per cent since last year.
Why Are We Not Angry Enough?
My questions remain why haven’t we protested enough about a minor being raped. Her blood spilling on the lanes of Ujjain, as she desperately seeked help, to no avail. The female wrestlers agitation was a national issue. The violation of a minor is equally a serious crime, that needs nationwide protests.
What causes this silence? The much-professed Indian spirit of unity dies an unnatural death as no one came forward to help her. Till she finally collapsed and fainted on the streets. A temple priest found her in this state and helped her to get medical aid.
The 12-year-old girl in Ujjain who was raped, won’t ever be able to right the wrong done to her. She will question her self-worth forever as she will be termed a raped victim and not a courageous survivor of man’s beastly actions.
Most minor rape survivors do not comprehend or understand that it was NOT their fault for being raped. They are made to feel inadequate because the insensitive questions asked to survivors always are “Why were you there? Were you laughing too loud? You must have encouraged the boys. Were you wearing revealing clothes?”
These questions are not only detrimental to the girl’s confidence to confide in a guardian, it is also character assassination for no fault of hers. The girl automatically withdraws herself into a shell. Often families also don’t come forward to register a formal complaint, in the fear of ostracism. Therefore young girls silently believe it was their fault. In the years ahead, such girls grow up to become easy targets for domestic violence, mental illnesses and an inability to ever recover from the trauma.
In urban environments, girls who face sexual violence are vulnerable to lifelong consequences of not having friends or acceptance in society. Many gullible girls think they are maybe slutty. That’s why they were singled out. It takes them years and ages they unlearn about the gaslight. Some don’t recognise the traits of misogynistic men and society’s skewed gender lens, for very long. In many cases they actually, never do. They continue to live a life burdened, with the secret that they invited the rape for simply being themselves.
Survivors Deserve Better Treatment
If we look at rape reports. The survivor in many cases has been perpetrated by a known person. So survivors keep mum. They are tutored to think maybe she was inviting this upon herself. Her personality was the reason, that it happened to her. So she shrinks herself further and further, till she becomes unseen and unheard. Minors and teenagers are never coherent about the crime meted out to them.
In such situations, many friends and family cancel out on the victim. So the one surviving this horror learns to not talk about the help she needs to cope up with the internal shame.
The saddest part is that she is made to feel like a pariah within her close circles. So she lives shrunk and remains as invisible as she can be.
The question that arises is, must this be the way a rape survivor be treated in 2023? A question that each of us needs to ask ourselves. Why do we forget so soon? Why do we become calm soon after the report dies a death, till another horrific gender violence takes place?
As much as we watch the government’s inclusive policies towards women in politics and women in the Indian combat troops, we are still failing the common girl, who isn’t educated or articulate enough to understand the laws that can protect her, without questioning her morality. Or making her feel like a criminal for being abused.
India needs to reiterate that this country belongs to men, women and transgenders. Patriarchy will die a slow death and it will be hard for many toxic men to come to terms with the fact that maybe someday soon, violated women who survive the trauma will be celebrated and the perpetrator who in most cases, is a man, will be denigrated.
We must be able to remember that a healthy society is a place where all genders belong equally. A woman’s body is not anyone’s property. Any violation of her agency of body, is a criminal act, whether she is married or unmarried.
Mohua Chinappa is an author, and podcaster and has started a digital marketing platform called Asmee which is a space of storytelling reserved only for women.
Views expressed by the author are their own.
Suggested reading: SC Verdict On Same-Sex Marriage Sparks Debate Around Marital Rape