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.


6 thoughts on “The victim checklist

  1. Amazing piece. Like the depth and passion and he maturity of your thoughts. Feel you should try for niche journalism in women’s activism

  2. Hi Tanni,

    Since I seldom hear you opine, this piece was a revelation unto your seething sentiments on this topic.

    I have a question that I’ve battled with ever since the Nirbhaya tragedy – what can be done to reduce such occurrences in our society? Who is really to blame? The parents who discriminate between theirs sons and daughters and give far too much freedom to the sons? The daughters who are getting more and more rebellious with every generation? Or is rape a psychological disorder which is slowly rising to epidemic proportions? If yes, what can be the cure?

    I agree that the publicity around some of these cases is manipulated to meet some journalistic or political agenda and not all cases gain the same coverage. IMHO, the point of concern should not be why this is so, but how we can fix this.

    My take is that the role of a mother, to a son or daughter, is very critical in this day and age. The sons need to be taught to cherish and respect all women. And daughters need to be pampered less and should learn to strike a balance between being indignant at every perceived slight and being silent conformists. In general, everyone needs to be taught to strive for peace within and outside themselves. This will eliminate the need to vent through violence or vengeance in both men and women. “Stithapragynata” is the need of the hour. It all goes back to Ushu tai’s lessons from the Geeta 🙂


  3. The mental disorder argument is rather warped! The lower strata comprises seventy percent (roundabout) of society. If they all end up with mental disorders, society would look more like this
    If we want to “take a look at the rapists” we should also include marital/date rape in our account no? The most bizarre perversions often come from those who assume puritanical attitudes in social life.

      • Yes, I thought you must have overlooked! You’ve made some very relevant points in the post. Esp about how should we look at (or whether we really should be looking at) a rape victim’s further life. And about the likes of Chetan Bhagat who really should be sunk at the bottom of the ocean. If I can take liberty to suggest, try spending more words on what you write; the bud might flower into something more, so to say. 😀

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