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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

You Were Raped? It's Your Fault - Why Did You Go Out??

First let’s check out the story version (which, by the way, is not very far from how it is in reality)…

Anushka Sharma’s character has to head out at night. She gets in her car, starts driving, and is assaulted by four men on the road. When she goes to report the incident, the first thing the officer asks her partner is “Why did you ‘allow’ her to go out at night?”

This may be ‘just’ a movie, but the problem is that this is not something that stays ‘just’ within the movie, nor is there anything just (read fair) about it.

As a nation, we may be participating in campaigns and pride walks and coloring our profile pictures in the hues of the rainbow, signifying freedom, liberation, understanding and love. But what we continue to do collectively as a society is far from the rosy or the rainbow hue. As a nation, we still do not know how to respect individuals, how to treat our women and girls, how to be sensitive to someone’s pain, or how to accept the fact that yes, a woman can have a mind of her own, that she can move beyond the realm of being ‘allowed’ to do things, that a no means a no, and that there are certain boundaries that should never be crossed.

As a nation, as a society, as humans, we have been failing on that front over and over and yet over again.

The Anushka Sharma character was in a movie. Now here is another incident that is not in a story, but in fact, happened for real, as do so many other similar ones, with just the names and faces being different.

For convenience sake and to not reveal any names, let’s call the girl ‘she’ and the boy ‘he’

‘She’ and ‘he’ were friends, and ‘she’ had made it very clear to ‘he’ from the start that that was all their friendship was about. ‘she’ was already happy with someone else and was settled in her relationship. ‘he’ knew about it and was a family friend, being friends with both ‘she’ and her partner. ‘he’ was single and having a good time, and would occasionally tell ‘she’ about the many friends he met or the girls he dated. Theirs was an easy friendship, where they hardly met but could always connect over the phone on a variety of topics like news, culture, society, politics, entertainment and such…

It had been a long time they met up, so ‘she’ and ‘he’ decided to head out to party with friends. They planned a night when everyone would be able to catch up and headed to a bar. All was fine. But then the weather got stormy and they had to wait out at the bar till it got a little better and by the time the storm was a little under control, it got late and ‘she’ was uncomfortable taking a cab home alone. ‘he’ offered to let her stay at his place, assuring her that ‘she’ had nothing to worry, that ‘he’ would sleep in a separate room and ‘she’ could take a cab the moment it became dawn. ‘she’ trusted ‘he’ and was sure ‘he’ knew that there was nothing on ‘she’s’ mind, so agreed to the same.

Once at ‘he’s’ place they went to sleep in their separate rooms. ‘she’ was not happy about the fact that she had to stay back, but knew it was better than taking a cab alone in a stormy night. A weird feeling woke ‘she’ up and she realized it was ‘he.’ ‘she’ realized what was happening but was too shocked initially to react. When ‘she’ saw that ‘he’ was not going to stop, ‘she’ told ‘he’ to stop, that it was not something on her mind and that ‘he’ was mistaken if he thought that ‘she’ thought of their relationship in this way.

Of course ‘he’ took it as a personal insult and made it clear that saying no was the wrong answer, one that was forcing him to act the way he was acting now. Later, after ‘he’ raped ‘she’, ‘she’ tried to search for her phone and call her partner and a cab, but could not find it anywhere. The door had been locked from inside and ‘she’ realized that she would have to play it smart and not make ‘he’ more aggravated, that her first priority was to leave the place and reach home.

As light was approaching, ‘she’ acted normal and asked ‘he’ if he had seen her phone. ‘he’ returned the phone to ‘she’, saying he had taken it away and hidden it because he did not want ‘she’ to leave. ‘she’ did not say anything and instead kept acting normal. Once the cab arrived ‘she’ immediately left.

‘she’ was not sure whether to go to the police or stay quiet about it, but was worried about her health, so decided to go to her doctor and confide. At the clinic, the first question the doctor asked was to ‘she’s’ partner – “how could you allow her to go out at night? What kind of a woman does that? Of course it was her fault that this has happened. And if she ever goes out again at night, she should be prepared to face it again. Who knows, maybe she did it out of choice and is now lying.”  

The doctor also refused to do a checkup, saying she was not allowed to touch ‘such’ cases.

The incident at the doctor’s clinic rattled ‘she’ much more than the real incident. ‘she’ felt tainted and started thinking that it was really her fault that she had been raped, that had she not gone out it would not have happened. She went into severe depression but continued to act normal, trying to make sense of what had happened and what was happening. ‘she’ was also worried about an impending pregnancy and the thought of getting pregnant or having to abort was both killing her at the same time. Whatever little thoughts she had about filing a report were given up after ‘she’ saw the reaction of the doctor, who was a female.

At present: ‘She’ is out of her depression, knows that it was not her fault, and is getting back to life the way she has always known it, but is extremely wary of friends now as much as she is wary of strangers. ‘he’ denied any involvement and told ‘she’ that she was mistaken, that no kind of physical contact had taken place, whether forced or consensual.

Rape Statistics In India:
As per the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB):

  • Rape is the most common crime that is committed against women
  • Every day, at least 93 women are raped in India
  • In almost 98.2 percent of the rape cases, the offender was known to the victim
  • 21,467 cases of rape were 'reported' in the year 2008 whereas the number increased to 33,707 in the year 2013
  • The most unsafe cities in India based on the reported number of rapes are Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Pune, in that order
  • The highest amount of rape cases occur in the age group 18 to 35

Rape Statistics Around The World:

  • According to the UN, women in the age group 15 to 44 are at a higher risk from rape than from cancer, automobile accidents and other health and medical conditions
  • According to WHO, at least 35 percent women have experienced sexual violence from their partner or friend in their lifetime

- Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta