By Subah Bhatia.
Rape – the one felony that immediately sends chills up our spines, the deed that scars a victim in all aspects, the open wound that doesn’t ever heal. The consequence of rape is not only the momentary pain of the forced intrusion; tears are not shed only on that perturbing night; the screams don’t end as dawn settles in. It does not leave just bruises and burns scattered over one’s body but creates emotional gashes so deep, one’s world is left numb. Mentally drained, the mind does not grasp anything but those unwanted memories, emotionally beaten and broken down, the heart forgets what the tender touch of happiness once felt like. Stripped not only of fabric but dignity as well, the wide world morphs into four walls closing down on a fragile excuse for a person.
Even after being the most heinous crime one can commit, its name appears as the felony with the highest rate in even the most developed countries of today. Even more shocking is the fact that 97 out of 100 people get away with rape. According to a study by the University of North Dakota, 1 out of 3 college men said that they would rape a woman, provided they get away with it. These 1 out of 3 do not abstain from raping a woman because it is a blemish on her dignity along with being an insult to humanity, but because of the fear of getting caught. Even further, 13.5% of participants professed that they would rape a woman and 31.7% said that they would ‘act on intentions to force a woman to engage in sexual intercourse’.
It is truly satirical how, on multiple occasions, it is alleged that it was not the man’s intentions that caused him to rape a woman, but her ‘dressing sense’. Many court cases have been ruled in favor of the rapist, with the reason being ‘the misleading and inappropriate fashion’ of the victim. A policeman from Cairo, 2014 said, “If a woman is wearing provocative clothing, the change needs to come from her.” In another case, the Governor of Jakarta, 2011 said, “Imagine if someone sits on board a mikrolet (minivan) wearing a miniskirt; you would get a bit turned on,” as well as “(women should) adjust to their environment so that they don’t provoke people into committing unwanted acts.”
What a woman wears is her right, whether it seems provocative to one’s eyes, is his opinion and mindset. Why must women adjust, to stop crimes committed by men? If a man is aroused, does it gives him the right to rape a woman? No victim of rape ever provokes the felon into committing the crime. No woman wears a miniskirt with the fueling lust – lust that lures men to rape. It is a rapist’s twisted mind and heinous intention that paves the path for him. One’s miniskirt is the least of society’s worries, but one’s mindset – rests at the top of the list. If the intercourse is unwilling – the intercourse is termed as rape, irrespective of what one may assume led to it. A woman can, and will, dress the way she wishes to, live the life she dreams of – all without having to compromise her rights and desires, not to avoid – but to eradicate – a crime that was never hers to begin with.
The horrors of rape are not limited to only that night, that bed and that grievance. Rape is not only the most heinous but also the only crime viewed as dirt on the girl’s reputation, a stain on her ‘purity’. Most rape crimes do not even reach the police station due to fear of defamation. The rape victim’s family finds it easier to press the matter down, not caring if it also presses the knife deeper into the victim. Her husband doesn’t wish to handle the stress that comes along with such a ‘controversial’ issue so he finds it easier to let the matter go than to punish his wife’s felon. The girl herself, ironically either has no say in the decision of her life or is suppressed by the fear of society. It is satirical how our society whispers and gossips about a raped frame, in place of standing up and offering support. Our society is scornful rather than sympathetic. Our society is quick to judge, but not half as fast to pause, think, and ponder over what the girl must be going through. Not once are her scars remembered, hardly ever is her pain relevant.
Women live in a world where they judged for every aspect of their livelihood and actions. A glass of alcohol in the hand of a man is his right, his daily habit a show of his masculinity. The same glass if held by a girl is an insult to tradition, to ‘culture’ and ‘values’. If a girl is friendly at a club, it is assumed to be a license to rape. It is a stain on the reputation of a narrow-minded family, if a female steps foot outside the household, if her lips touch alcohol, if her bare arms are visible when she is outside the house. What a conservative man is ashamed to see his sister do, he views as his ticket to rape a girl on the streets.
Those who reason that a woman must be let to live, for without her the propagation of life is impossible, are too, no less worthy of being condemned – for the role of a woman in this world is so much more important than just giving birth. Those husbands who reason, that they LET their wives work; those parents who dismiss their daughter’s career saying that their son is enough to support the family; those men who believe that a girl is be taught the language of knives and pots, be sent to a new house along with a fat heap of cash, be left at the mercy of her husband as once they are tied by marriage, it becomes his birthright to rape his wife, then look after the children and finally end her life, happy to get rid of the sorrows that loom over her every day. These people do not commit a crime any less than murder – for they too, snatch the life of millions of girls from their hands as soon as they open eyes to this world. They prevail over her days, rule over her mind, capture her body and use it to their heart’s content. They are the dictators she fears in the day, the monsters in her dreams, the mills of her tears, the architects of her screams, the carvers of her whimper, the designers of her fear, and one day – the sculptors of her roar.