Monday, March 10, 2014

Trespassing at its worst

Warning: Too long a post. Been as subtle as possible. Excuse the explicit writing, if you notice it.

Have you ever felt like cheap labor? 
Has someone picked your pocket?
Have you gotten mugged or assaulted? 
Has your best friend slept with your girl friend?
Has your boss ever abused you? 
Has someone you trusted lied to you?
Have you ever been stood up?
Have you been denied admission to a college because of your caste?
Has someone passed a racist comment on you?
Has someone stolen something very close to your heart from you?

Have you ever felt violated?

I guess if you had answered yes to any one of the ten questions, you'd have answered yes to the follow-up as well. Now answer this.

Have you ever been raped?

Isn't that the highest degree violation of one's personal space (sex/age no bar)? Which is better, getting raped or getting killed? There isn't a difference. Personally, I'd give a tiny edge to the latter because you don't have to live with it. I'm definitely not saying that someone who has been victimized by rape cannot recover from it. I'm just saying that there isn't a punishment in this world that can be given to a rapist that would make the victim feel any less violated.

All these days when I read about rape in the news, I imagined the assaulter to be a third rate criminal you'll find in the cast of a tastelessly made gangster movie. It was so naive of me to think that these people will never run in a 'normal' social circle. Yes, the use of the word normal is very deliberate because the moment one even thinks about committing such a heinous* act, the word normal automatically dislodges from their dictionary. Of all the news that has ever been reporter by TOI or any other news agency, this series grossed me out the most. The two accused are kids (read it again in capital letters - KIDS) for heaven's sake. This incident has reportedly happened in the same locality in Coimbatore where I spent my entire childhood. The victim and accused are from my Alma mater. And stressing it again, they are college kids.

It's unfair on my part to focus on this one incident, but, the fact that it could happen right next to us sends a chill up my spine. My own sister grew up in the same locality. Some of my best friends from college and my neighborhood lived and are still living there. There are 3 major schools around the area that tens of thousands of students attend. Now, I feel bad at having laughed at my dad when he got a bit worked up if my sister was even 15 minutes late from college. I finally understand why my mom used to personally accompany her tuition students to their home if they are leaving our house after darkness falls. Of all the places in all the cities of this world, I never imagined it could happen there. I'm still unable to come to terms with the fact that it can never, ever, be 100% safe.

On one hand if we can put the blame on illiteracy and growing up in a bad environment for most cases, there's the other side of the story. There's just too much access these days. As parents, especially the ultra-rich class who just think that their kids are still kids, provide all the access they need - Credit cards, Smart phones, Ultra books, High-Speed Internet connection and what not. But, at least in countries like India where technology has penetrated into the deepest of even the rural areas, parental guidance hasn't stepped in at all. Most of the kids get their own room (in some cases their own flat) because the parents appreciated their privacy. Heck, I had my own room throughout my 4 years in college, but, I'm sure I couldn't have sneaked in as much as a safety pin in to it and my father wouldn't have found out. I'm not saying that there should be no respect for the kid's privacy. I feel it's important to talk to the kids and make them feel comfortable about discussing what's going on in school/college, who their friends are (esp in the opposite sex) and not pick on and judge every single thing the kid does.

Most victims don't come out and speak up. I wouldn't blame them either. Some reporter in TOI is always waiting to unleash his creative best in reporting this, because it's not about sense, it's about sensational (I ripped that part out of a The Hindu ad in 2011). After all the physical torture that lasted only for a few minutes, there's the social torture that's going to last a lifetime. At this juncture, how do you blame anyone for being conservative and non-trusting?

However, the most painful part about all this is that, we always find someone else to blame. Why did you go out at that time? Why did you wear this? Why did you talk to a boy? Doesn't this college take security of students seriously? Is the police department sleeping? Take the case that I had shared above, for instance. I'm sure there are at least a handful of filthy people who blame the girl to have gone to the twins' apartment. Oh yes, going to a friend's apartment is indeed a "heinous crime".

Last year, I saw an episode of Neeya Naana where a doctor said that man is a beast who wears the mask of civilization. So, provocative dressing by a woman will unleash the beast within him. She also mentioned that the middle eastern culture of a woman wearing a burka not only safe guards her from the beast but also helps her personality. I'm not sure if it's just me or did that make no sense whatsoever, no matter how scientifically proven a fact it is. This is just a classic example of mankind being an extremist. We know both extremes. We don't know balance. We don't know moderate.

Nothing, nothing ever is an excuse. Not provocative dressing. Not the time of the day. Not biology. Not geography. Not culture. Not tradition. It's just simple. No matter what, You don't rape someone. YOU DON'T RAPE ANYONE.

*Rape is a heinous crime no matter how tastefully or how violently it was committed.

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