India’s Daughter

In case you have been living in a cave, you would have come across the online storm the documentary, India’s Daughter, created on social media, causing news desks to pick up the story. India has banned the documentary, and we are all supposed to be surprised and backlash against it now.

Let me be clear, anyone and everyone should take some time to watch the documentary. There will be many who will agree with me, and others who will stand firm in saying that the documentary only glorifies rape and rapists.

You know what glorifies rape and rapists? The fact that marital rape is still not recognised in India, despite the Criminal Law Amendment of 2013, which was all to please the protestors, the press and the otherwise mute public that the government is going to have a better handle on punishing and recognising rape cases. Let’s couple this fact with another – 94% of rape victims know their rapists. How much am I, personally, willing to bet that most of those victims are raped by their husbands, considering women are just reared for marriage? They set up a committee that took suggestions from the public so they could strengthen laws surrounding sexual assault, rape and so forth. That committee received over 80, 000 suggestions. Eighty thousand suggestions, and we are to believe that not a single one of those suggestions had the words “Make marital rape legal?” written on them? Eighty thousand suggestions, and not a single one wanted to identify the various types of sexual crimes committed on the bodies of men and transgender individuals? Eighty thousand suggestions, and not one single Indian citizen thought to improve care and protections of domestic violence victims?

Do we even remember what the woman’s name was from the 2012 Delhi rape case? I feel as though that’s her name now – the Delhi rape case. Jyoti Singh will not be a name we will care to remember in the long run. Jyoti Singh has become yet another one of the hundreds of thousands of women who are assaulted, raped and thrown away until someone in the media picks it up and tweets about it.

Mukesh Singh is waiting to die by hanging in some prison. Mukesh Singh was the bus driver in the Delhi rape case. Mukesh Singh maintains the stance that he did not partake in the rape itself, but simply drove the bus while it happened. Mukesh Singh, that was you partaking in the rape. Mukesh Singh maintains a lack of regret. Mukesh Singh thinks women walking around town by themselves after sunset are simply asking for it.

Jyoti Singh is not India’s daughter. The constant confinement of women as mothers, daughters, sisters as a reason to not rape them is not acceptable. What if it was your sister? How would YOU feel if someone raped your mother? Women do not belong in India, not as your mothers, your sisters, your wives or your daughters. But what about your sons? Where did they learn this astounding level of arrogance and power that they own bodies? Where did they learn that somehow, as if by magic, women are weaker, in every sense of the word? Where are your brothers and fathers learning that it’s only a crime if they get caught? Where did your older brother learn that if he spots a girl walking around at 9.30pm, she deserves to be raped? Where did your father learn to slap your mother around, knowing she will not hit back let alone report it?

India is a state for sons: Mukesh Singh, Ram Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and the unnamed teenager.

-SR.

Secrets

I have a friend who is a professor at a community college. An ex-coach of several all-girls teams, who now focuses on mental and physical health along with other aspects of the human condition. She’s got a flawless score on ratemyprofessor.com and is loved by all, hated by none. This coach has dedicated her life to setting her students up for future success and stability all by assigning them far too much work that focuses on reflecting on their lives and experiences. She’s been doing this for over 20 years now and each and every year, her class has countless students on the waiting list, ready to do whatever it takes to get into one of her classes.

And every year when classes start up again, she tells me how affected she is by the experiences of their students, how surprised she is by what they are willing to share under the veil anonymity, how it seems like life never even gave some students a chance, how she hates the fact that so many perpetrators got away because her students were too afraid to ask for help and kept their sometimes vile experiences a secret buried deep inside them.

Today, she told me a story of a young girl in her class, who identified herself as someone who trusts too quickly, which leads her to get hurt just as fast as well. The student wrote about her old personality, comparing it to her new one which is steeped in anger and violence. All because she had trusted a boyfriend, who later drugged her and raped her. She woke up covered in blood, along with the realisation that she could not trust anybody in her life. Out of shame and disgust, she kept her story a secret, until this teacher came along, and the student wrote out her soul on a piece of paper. She wrote about the fact that she has taught herself to no longer trust anyone. She has taught herself to be strong in the way of reacting with anger and violence during unwanted, albeit sometimes harmless encounters – like someone touching her arm by accident. This young girl’s shame has mirrored every experience she has had since this crime was committed onto her body, soul and mind. In fact, all of this young girl’s future experiences will be a reflection of her rape. She has never gotten help, she has never told anyone. She has never had the chance to be a victim and see her criminal be punished for his actions. She may never get closure of knowing that she has not done anything wrong by trusting another human being.

Her previous of faith and trust in humanity is not a weakness, but a strength. Her previous understanding that her trust in people was possibly her greatest strength. The fact that she placed trust in another human was also not a mistake, but a show of courage and strength that she truly believes that as humans, we can expect each other to not intentionally hurt one another. Perhaps if we had managed to create a world and society where she felt right in the knowledge that having this happen to her meant that she would not be criticised or shunned or need to feel ashamed, but use her strength to bring down her rapist. If anyone deserves to feel weak, hurt and ashamed it is her rapist, because in an ideal situation, as a society, we would have created an environment where he is punished for his vile crime, where he has full understanding of the fact that no one, except him, is in the wrong and that his punishment would be an accurate representation of the trauma he forced onto somebody else. His punishment might have never made her pain go away, but it would have reiterated the fact that she is safe, that she has the support of her entire world, and that there was no way in hell anyone would be critical of her traumatic experience.

Her secret has shaped her current life, and will continue to shape her future. No matter what words come out of her teacher, no matter how hard she is urged to seek help and discuss her problems, she will live with the knowledge that her rapist has walked away from a truly heinous crime.

We can have an argument and yell at each other about how not ALL humans should be trusted, and that MOST men are in fact, not rapists. But all the MOSTs and the ALLs and the MANYs are just veils to cover up the dirty grime that live beneath the surface. Every use of MOST men or MANY women is ignoring the ones that do perpetuate violence, rape and anguish onto others. Looking at the whole picture means recognising the discrepancies in how we choose to avoid the negative, how we avoid the small corners of distress so we don’t have to deal with it. Looking at a whole picture does not mean ignoring the sum of its parts.

Until the next rant.