Life is made up of too many last days: the last day of school, the last day of college, the last day at work, the last day of life. All of these days hold a very special place in our hearts and they trigger emotions in us we didn’t even know existed. We do everything in our power to make that day memorable and unforgettable. We make promises to never lose touch in school and never keep them but that doesn’t deter us from making those same promises again after graduating from college. On our death beds, we hope that the afterlife brings with it a new set of challenges and a whole new set of people who’ll love and cherish us. When the last day does not pass smoothly, somehow all the memories attached to the place become bitter, every thought and every moment turns into something repelling and we never want to go back again.
What if on our last day of life, we find ourselves helpless and tied up, naked in front of strangers, our clothes ripped from our bodies, our bodies being used as objects of pleasure for disgusting strangers? What if our cries are unheard and our pain unseen? What if all we want at that point of time is to run, keep running till we reach the end of land? The reason I decided to give this gory description instead of just saying the word rape is because the word has lost its weight in this country. The word is said as a joke, it is said with the same emphasis as the words walking, sleeping and eating. Rape has been normalised in our country. I don’t want to talk about particular cases because for every rape case that comes out into the public, there are one thousand which don’t see the light of justice. Enough articles have been written about rape being a crime of power, not of pleasure. It is done to highlight the power differential between the rapist and the victim. This article is not about the act of rape, it is about the aftermath of rape.
Let us look at this from a micro level; when this rape culture was not so widespread in the country and the victims weren’t murdered after a rape. They were thrown away on the road and they found their way back home. They narrated their excruciating experience to their families. For women victims, one of two things ended up happening, either she was told to shut up about it because nobody would marry her after knowing she’s been “compromised” or she would be blamed for her own rape. For victims who were men, they were told to shut up because “men don’t get raped.” Their masculinity suddenly came under attack and the cases would hardly even come out. Have things changed now? It would be wrong to say they haven’t. Some people are becoming more aware about the sociological effects of rapes. We have scholars who study this phenomenon and give us a clearer understanding of it. Some sections of the society have stopped blaming victims for rapes. Having said all of this, the macro scene has not changed much. The society as a whole still holds the same perspective about rapes. The only change is along with blaming the victim, they pity them too. Some of us think that things have changed because we see like minded people on social media posting about progressive ideas just like ours. It makes us feel that the society has evolved and our culture is evolving with it but with every new rape case, our conviction about change weakens and our ideas become blurred.
In today’s world, the religious identity of the victim and the perpetrator is as important as their genders because, well, the society’s evolution is taking place at a slower rate than the evolution of rape. It is naïve to detach the religious identity of the two because rapes have evolved into hate crimes and hate can come from anywhere. We blame journalists for reporting news in their sensational manners, but we fail to realise that news agencies reflect the society, they report what the society asks them to. I am not saying that the politicisation of rape is a good thing. All I am saying is that in today’s world rape is no longer just rape.
With the pace at which our rape culture is progressing, women will never (at least in the near future) feel secure enough to even step out of their houses without having to worry. If we want the future of our society to be bright, the last day of no-one’s life should involve being helpless and tied up, naked in front of strangers, clothes ripped from their bodies, their bodies being used as objects of pleasure for disgusting strangers, their cries unheard and their pain unseen.
Picture Credits: Harish Tyagi /EPA / LANDOV