The victim checklist

The nation, and more specifically, Mumbai was ‘shamed’ once again when a 22-year-old photojournalist was gang raped recently. I do not, in any way, belittle what she went through. I am just trying to severely judge all of us.

Since the Delhi rape case happened, there have been several stories about women being gangraped. After the recent rape of a Dalit girl, every headline for every news article sincerely mentioned that it was a dalit girl right in the headline and the affair died down quietly. That it happened in Haryana and that the girl was economically underprivileged seemed to be good reasons for us to not be ‘outraged’.

But the mass hysteria about women’s rights comes up only when the tragedy matches our checklist. We all get into this public fury where we speak up about our rights and more. Somehow this is a platform for everyone to air their grievances about being teased, molested and judged for the way they look or dress. And yet we fail to see that we needed a girl with a ‘respectable’ profession on an assignment at a ‘respectable’ time, with a male colleague, dressed ‘decently’ to be raped, for us to see that. When the media asks us for our opinions, we say that the problem is with these rapist monsters. They need to be castrated, or killed. And then we come home to set deadlines for our daughters while our sons can roam around as they want.

Let the victim get over her trauma at her own pace. Rape is not going to destroy her life and, like she said herself, she is going to get back to work. She is going to be a person who suffered a traumatic experience but rose from it. Barging into her building, invading her privacy and creating pseudo saviours out of the witnesses in the case is exactly the kind of foolhardy behaviour we don’t need.

If a girl who was out having a good time in a heels and a mini skirt was gangraped, would the women’s rights groups who preach gender equality stand up for her rights? When Chetan Bhagat made a silly stray tweet about the rupee being ‘raped’ (and took it down after seriously pissing off women’s rights activists), I failed to see how it was an offensive to women. If anything, it could be termed as offensive to rape victims, which includes males too. What is actually infuriating is that people actually expect anything other than wannabe thoughtless statements from Chetan Bhagat.

And while we’re at it, let’s take a look at the rapists. They’re at the lowest possible strata of society – young men belonging to the lower economic class. They’re far away from being precious or pitied. If you have grown up where you are constantly put down by everyone, the only place where you get some self respect is from your peer group. With that environment, not having a severe mental disorder would be a miracle. And while rape is not in any way an excuse for feeling empowered, we need to acknowledge that the real problem is not in having a penis and stop treating every male as a potential miscreant. Women are not genetic victims. They are people, and they deserve to be respected for being humans, just like everyone else. Not because they are daughters or sisters or wives or friends, but because they are.

With populist campaigns like ‘women under attack’, there is very little scope for people to realise that rape does not only claim female victims. This does not explain, and is by no means an excuse for their behaviour. They indeed call for a very severe punishment. But instead of revolting with passion and no headway, we must look into ourselves. We all need an education. Something a little more effective than the “value education” class that we had in school.