Did you know that a girl gets raped every 20 minutes in India ?
or that 94% of rape or abuse victims know their attacker ?
Over the last couple of years, with the advent of media coverage and out pour on violence against women and sexual assault, we often feel like we have been fed with enough news reports, cover stories and interviews. More crimes are being reported today than in any other decade, thereby in a sense, there is less stigma in reporting rape, which is a good sign right ? So ideally this should lead to attackers being lawfully punished, awareness being raised and rates of crimes reducing as a prospective overall result. Yet, nearly every single day that I open the newspaper, switch on the television or go through my Facebook news feed, it seems like the world never ceases to surprise me. There is yet another horrific story of a someone being subjected to assault or abuse and the accused allowed to justify their deplorable actions to a nationwide audience.
Statistics scream that everyday, 72 women are raped in India! Each time I come across such alarming figures, I am shocked, a tad bit ashamed and a slight but steady wave of fear creeps through me. It has been more than 2 years since the “Nirbhaya” incident, and we are still wondering if women are safe or if improvements in the legal system have had any effect at all! On seeing Mukesh Singh the prime accused in the case, having the nerve to dictate how women should behave and their defence lawyer proudly advocating that women do not have a place in Indian society, it seems to highlight how nothing can deter the mind of a pervert in a patriarchal society. It baffles my mind if we have failed as humans itself.
Each time there is a new story revolving around similar dimensions, sending the entire nation into a trance. Soon the reports fizzle out and lose their spark. Gradually the protests and outbursts subside. People slowly begin to lose interest, because some believe that they wouldn't be of help, so why bother worrying in the first place! Worse is that, several others choose to remain oblivious to socially relevant issues starting from minor clean sanitation facilities in the neighbourhood like a drainage leak to sexual assault cases, as they succumb to the preconceived notion that this is the way society functions. But when problems strike and such incidents affect someone close to them, that is when they come to realise. More than 75% of female victims were raped or sexually assaulted before the age of 25. This puts nearly all of us college going women in India directly under the same bracket of being prone to sexual assault.
With hope being washed away with every incident that edges my way, I seek some kind of salvation, but not knowing exactly what to find or what to do, I still feel helpless. Fully aware that people in their prime age are being stripped away from life itself, because of the sickening actions of some incorrigible monsters, is it not high time we as a sensible educated lot stopped waiting around. All I can amount from this is that the current situation demands a change. A change in the bureaucratic system's effectiveness in imposing rules, thereby instilling a fear among each person who even thinks about committing any crime no matter how severe or trivial. A change in society and people's views to not succumb to social stigma, break existing myths and curb undue moral policing.
Revolutionising society indeed seems daunting, so we could start by just changing the small things around us. Be wary of language, as these days youth succumb to fads and tend to use inappropriate words more often than not. For instance, if a friend is joking about rape or sexual violence he/she is perpetuating rape culture, and not being funny. If you laugh along with them – rather than calling them out, or even just making a point of not laughing - so are you. Read up on laws, reforms and legal changes made in recent times and be aware of the rights you are entitled to under the constitution. If you feel that your opinions need to be voiced, do not refrain! Talk openly to your peers, to your friends and other like minded persons. Speak up for if you know someone who is subjected to abuse or violence. Support survivors of rape and help them by treating them no different. Social stigma and oppression can be altered only if we wish to.
Support survivors of rape and help them by treating them no different.
Yes, I know its completely impossible to find a solution but I guess the engineer in me who has spent far too long being pragmatic and trained to be result oriented just wants to put an end to this. Though I acknowledge these problems won't go away in a day, there is a part of me that wishes to somehow escalate the process, at-least by penning down my thoughts and questions.