Rape, rape, rape. I so dislike uttering the word and yet every single day I have to hear it or read it. Will such a day ever come when no one will utter the word anymore because rapes will have stopped happening?
In the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, a 19 year old Dalit girl Manisha Valmiki had gone to the fields to cut grass for the cows. She was dragged off by four men who raped her, cut off her tongue and shattered her spine. After battling for her life for fifteen days Manisha passed away at a hospital in Delhi on 29 September. Why did those men rape her? Because Manisha was a woman. Because she was a Dalit. And the rapists? The rapists were men, the rapists were upper caste. Does that mean only upper caste men rape? Do men from the lower castes not commit rape? Do women of the upper castes not face sexual violence? All of these things happen. The truth is that women of all castes, all religions, across languages, skin colours, classes, in all villages, cities and countries, irrespective of their ages fall prey to rape. And men of all types are capable of raping and torturing women. Rapes will not stop as long as our patriarchal society continues to function, because patriarchy brainwashes people with the lesson that men are the lords, to whom women are nothing but slaves and sex objects. So what else can men do to slaves and sex objects other than subject them to sexual violence! Even slaughtering them with a smile is an exciting experience on its own, and men hanker for such excitement. They hanker because they are certain that they will not be caught, or if they are caught they will never face punishment.
A couple of years ago when Nirbhaya aka Jyoti Singh, who was raped in a moving bus in Delhi, succumbed to her injuries, thousands of people had taken to the streets. Protests against rape had raged across the country and eventually the adults among the perpetrators were sentenced to death. Isn’t that exemplary punishment enough? But has that stopped rapes from happening? No, they have continued.
Last year in India an average of 87 rape cases were registered per day. In the entire country the number of crimes reported to have been committed against women were around 4,05,861. Surely the number of cases that went unreported was much higher. Especially in this subcontinent whenever we come across an official number it is understood that we have to take the real number to be nearly twice, thrice or even four times. And do that we must, for not many women actually end up registering cases of sexual violence! Which woman can dare report a man’s crime in his own social set-up and still hope to survive unscathed! Women are forced to bury their heads and endure, and doing so has become a habit for them.
Cases of violence against women are not decreasing, rather the number is on the rise. Whatever the number was in 2018, it increased by nearly sevenfold by the very next year. As per data from the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) there were 3, 78, 236 cases of violence against women registered in 2018 and the number of rape cases were 33, 356. That number was 32, 559 in 2017, which means it’s only increasing every year. Will these numbers pile up and graze the sky? Women are becoming educated and self-reliant, rapists are being sentenced to death or life imprisonment, immense effort is being put in to spread awareness against rape, all sorts of government as well as private organisations are working round the clock to prevent rape and yet why have rapes not stopped happening? We must ask this question again and again and we must find the answer as well, not the fake answer but the right one.
Do such crimes of harassment, rape and murder happen only in India? Of course not, as the neighbouring countries are not content to be left behind. In Bangladesh 892 rape cases alone have been registered in the past eight months. We must accordingly figure out the number of cases where the crime wasn’t even reported. Gang rapes, raped and murdered, survivors committing suicide after the incident, and so on and so forth.
Just the other day I heard the news of a Chakma woman from the hills of Bangladesh who was raped by nine Bengali men. Was I surprised by the news? Not at all. When men restrain themselves from committing rape, they do so because they are afraid of the law or of getting caught and beaten up. Had there been a law today whereby men would be able to get away with any crime, then perhaps not a single man would spend a day without raping someone.
I read a newspaper report on a certain Monir Hossain from Chandpur, Faridgunj who had been raping his minor daughter for years. It was ultimately his wife who informed the police about his misdeeds and the daughter too confessed that her father had been sexually abusing her. Monir Hossain may have been arrested but there is no dearth of people like him in our society.
Our one greatest sorrow is that we as women, whether we are part of the minority or the majority, are never safe. That’s because, as ill-fated as we are, we inhabit this society with certain individuals many of who are not really men but mere dicks, deaf and dumb dicks. Until and unless these dicks evolve into actual human beings, rapes will continue to happen.
There’s nothing to be proud of being a dick, even though patriarchy provides one lifelong encouragement to be just that.
At the moment of birth a glimpse of the new-born child’s penis sparks elation in the family. That’s when it all starts. From that moment the way a male child is pampered, the amount of money and resources that is spent on him, the dreams and aspirations that are carefully nurtured around him, it all contributes to elevating him to the status of a king in the household. And kings are bound to be arrogant, they are bound to be susceptible to taking things for granted. From the moment they are born boys are taught that they are precious because they are boys and that the numerous girls in the family or in society, none of them are as precious as he. That women were born to serve men, to be objects that men can consume as well as to bear his children. Whatever they are taught, they behave accordingly. Rapes will continue to happen as long as society continues to consider men more valuable than women. Rapists are brainwashed people. They have been brainwashed relentlessly by family, society and the state. In the family laws drawn up by the state it is men who have more rights. The socio-political sphere is a male domain, it’s only men who are celebrated there just as men are the heads of families. We must attempt to demolish this patriarchal framework, only then can true equality be achieved. If we don’t discuss the equal rights of genders, there is no way rapes can be stopped. Lords oppress their slaves, that’s how such a feudal system has always worked. Rape is a form of oppression.
Building an equal society, guaranteeing equal rights for all and demolishing all patriarchal social structures are only ways in which we can combat the rape and oppression of women.