I am a conscious, independent and liberal woman. I take pride in my ability to have defined my identity by taking the most sensitive and controversial decisions. The road to becoming me often tested my patience and tolerance for male chauvinism but I turned out fine until that one moment when my soul was bruised by the savaging act of rape. I am a survivor with a spine of steel. While I may win legal battles, wear out social norms, I strive to explain what I lost in that moment.
If only they knew, what they take away from us!
Another gang rape hits the town. A young medical student on way back home after a refreshing evening, charters a private bus and much to her dismay, is raped and brutally assaulted by a group of six men.
Overwhelmed by the barbaric nature of the assault, the incident cited irrepressible protests nationwide. People from every walk of life realized what Damini faced is a blind struggle every other woman faces everyday. That sisters, daughters and wives in our nation are equally vulnerable and exposed to becoming her. That it’s only a matter of chance, a sadist monster lurking around grabs a girl, demolishes her and gets away with it. What began as a protest transformed into a ‘movement-in-making’ for the right to dignity in the sexist culture of India. Unfortunately, it took more than a life to spark the fire as Damini eventually lost the battle for her life.
Damini’s death unassumingly, brought the battle between the male ego inflicted with wounds of a shattered totalitarian and womanhood changing its essence into existence, onto the fore-front of a nation’s value system struggling with the idea of her convergence. Slogans leading the debate over death penalty in rape cases have managed to make a mark and legal experts at the cross-roads of pulling up tight measures in order to stem the problem, are re-inventing the idea of capital punishment, discussing about its place in civilized and relatively tolerant societies we live in.
While everyone holds the right to have a say in the matter, no social agent can contain the sensitivity associated with the capital punishment but the victim. I wonder if she can too!
Being human and remaining humane is a challenge. It requires courage and resilience made of steel. Who would know it better than a rape victim? As she survives with the altered behavioral and emotional quotient, her real struggle lies in confronting the moment that haunts her for life-time, when dignity was stripped off her soul . The moment of helplessness that left behind scars of aggression can only be healed by bringing the perpetrators of crime to justice.
But peace is an expensive commodity. When assessed against nonchalant and diffusive mechanics of law, a rape victim nonetheless is a piece of a complex puzzle. Rapist and society are others.
As judiciary and administrative policies are being reformed to ensure safety of women in metro cities like Delhi, death penalty for rapists, is being debated to deter criminals to commit heinous crimes women across the entire nation. Astonishing it is, when I see people fail miserably to identify the real monster behind ‘Rape’. Rape, is not just a crime of passion. In Indian societies, it is deployed as a lethal weapon to humiliate delicate sexuality of women, a bulls-eye shot to avenge hurt male-ego and it will continue to remain so unless we stop feeding to sexist demons.
Punishment or Change?
A dilemma that has haunted visionaries for centuries. Questions like capital punishment as an appropriate equation to square off the anti-social elements in a society are never easy to answer. Cutting short one’s lifetime to an end moment with a broken nib can not validate the social change India needs to see. Even if we pull out similar cases (Dhananjoy Chatterjee-2004, Nikka Singh-2012) where convicts have been hanged on raping and murdering minors, teenagers or mature women in the past, we fail to establish the connect between the punishment and its scope in changing the attitude of a society. A rape victim still is treated as a neglected junk, isolated from inside-out; and rapist, well 100% jump in the no. of rape cases between 1990 and 2008 only confuses. National Crime Records Bureau registered a massive toll of 24,206 rape cases in India in 2011 alone.
Capital punishment indeed is a bold deterrent but it works as a leash to hold a monster a little longer than otherwise. It does not evolve into becoming anything more than that. Its existence is as futile and temporary as a neighbor with loud mouth and silent hands. Sexist values will continue to inflict wounds on our body and soul in one way or other, unless its roots are cut off.
A clever and sharp-pitched tongue trying to conceal the guilt and fear off convict’s face, contrarily speaks his soul inside-out but nothing is left to win-over. Silent expression on face of Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) stayed with me for a long while after watching ‘Dead Man Walking’. The movie explores the sensitive issue of capital punishment, and unfolds the transition of a distracted young man from Neo-Nazi to nothing. On death row for raping and murdering a teenager, fear of end moment torments him. Vulnerable and desperate, Matthew appeals for clemency, but is left disappointed. Matthew’s death is the only salvation, life can offer to the victim’s family. Interestingly, victim’s parents divert their ways forever from each other, as one of them refuses to seek culprit’s redemption in capital punishment.
What goes around comes around. The one moment irony hits back, this time to infiltrate layers of arrogance and vain, reaching the scared and remorseful soul of a man dying while waiting to die. There is no science that can explain the catharsis of his moment of truth.
Peace, I wonder lies in shooting a mad dog or taming the sinner inside!
Image Courtesy: Google, Times India.