We have embarked on a journey to the Indian dystopia; in simpler words, a world gone mad. Sexual violence after sexual violence seems to be making its way to our newspapers every day. Yet, no respite seems to be looming near. What has been generated is a huge amount of heated debate with (surprisingly) polarising views, an analysis of rape, justification of rape and victim blaming and shaming. Which brings me to my title, where is the shame? Where is the respite and where is the remorse? What is alarming is that the attacks and assaults are relentless, and they don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
December 2012 saw a huge uprising against violence targeted at women and the fight still continues, yet rape has transcended its status as a horrific crime and has taken the role of discourse now. People use the term ‘rape culture’ nowadays. When did rape take on a discursive identity? Agreed that more and more women have spoken out against sexual violence that has been inflicted on them, but rise in the number of reports is not a source of comfort, it’s a finger that points to a still prevalent problem.
Shiv Kumar Yadav, an infamous sex offender raped a young woman on her way home, when he was supposed to be the taxi driver taking her home. Evidence and charges pressed against him should have been enough to keep this monster off the streets and locked behind bars, especially since there were thirteen witnesses. Yadav should have been behind bars by now. Instead, a heinous rapist like that is investing time in overturning court justice. He has recently claimed for another trial in a Delhi High Court by stating that he has not been represented properly, citing issues with his lawyer. This Court went and even granted him a re-trial. The thirteen witnesses have to be re-examined again and again. Established trial and criminal records have to be written all over again. The victim has to testify again. Our justice system does not seem to have any provisions for protection of victims. She is being punished by her attacker, to relive her trauma again and again and our justice system seems to be teaming up with the attacker on this case.
February 1st, 2015, a woman was reported missing by her sister in Rohtak, Haryana. Three days later her mutilated, naked body was found dumped in a field, eaten by animals and with organs missing. Stones, blades and condoms had been shoved inside her. She had been gang raped and murdered. When her sister reported her missing the police did nothing. They did not treat the case with the urgency it required; maybe if they had, she need not have suffered like this. In the face of public fury they have started taking this case seriously. Eight of the perpetrators have been caught and that’s not all of them.
A six-year-old was raped with an iron rod in Ahmedabad. Two sisters were gang raped and hung in Badaun. The attacks are relentless with no cessation in sight. In the twenty-first century, when we are supposed to have left behind regressive notions of gender discrimination behind, what is the message being sent here? Women stay at home or else? Victim blaming is happily indulged in with no one around to tell them to shut up. The first concern/query regarding an assault case is the sobriety, clothing and demeanour of the victim. Never mind the disposition of the attacker, what the victim did to invite assault on herself, seems to take on a sort of priority. Even worse, the concern for this hue and cry regarding violence against women has raised tourism concerns, not protection and safety for women.
Hoping that assaults on women stop seems to have become wishful thinking. A country without gender discrimination has taken the turn to ‘Utopia’, the process of making it a reality is an enormous struggle. Watch out for the comments section on social media platforms that discuss assaults in women. The current government values the life of cows more than it does the lives of Indian women. No sympathy, no apology and shameless victim blaming. Concern is too less. Where are we headed as a society that seems to eradicate safe platforms for women? But I do not take away from those who are fighting this situation. They have waged a valiant war against each and every form of discrimination. There is also outrage and determination that a woman’s situation on this country has to change. But this is a battle balanced at a very precarious point.