I am a 21 year old young woman, and I live in India.
I was 18 when an unspeakable crime was visited upon a young girl not much older than me, in a place not so far from me.
I was 20 when the documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ was released, and subsequently banned in my country. Thanks to the internet, I still watched the film.
I cried for that young woman who was so like me in several ways. I sobbed for the girl who just wanted to succeed in life and make her parents happy. I didn’t sleep that night. I didn’t sleep peacefully for several nights thereafter.
I wonder if Nirbhaya’s parents sleep at night. I wonder, if they do, what they see in their dreams.
We live in the 21st century. The collective human society has fought for, and succeeded in several civil movements in the last 100 years.
And yet, our ideas about rape are so antiquated. I cannot understand how one of the oldest civilisations in the history of humanity can be so blind to some of the most basic tenets of civilised living.
You do not force yourself on ANYONE – man or woman. It doesn’t get simpler than that.
It baffles me that we don’t yet recognise marital rape as a crime.
It makes me cringe that eve teasing, gender-based violence, assault, is right there for even the smallest girl to fall victim to, but is swept under the carpet, and talked of in whispers.
It horrifies me that we have become so lost in our quest for power and ‘giving another chance’ that we have the temerity to detain the grieving parents of a girl whose life was literally torn apart.
And yes, I say ‘WE’. Because the fault lies on our shoulders too. For not standing united in the face of the misguided lawmakers, callous ‘leaders’ and yellow-bellied curs who call themselves human.
For hiding, when we should be fighting.
Its time we speak up.
I’ll give you three reasons.
One – so that those who face such crimes know they are not alone. So we can say to them, “Hide not in shame, but throw it back in face of those who deserve it, while you stand tall.” So they can hear and know and believe that its not their fault. So that wives and daughters and nieces and girlfriends and just-another-woman-on-the-road know that they can speak up too. That they can heal too.
Two – so that every rapist, every sexual offender, every last human who thinks he can do harm to another will know that we can and we will scream and we will fight until the whole world screams and fights with us. That no means NO. That we will not remain silent, for in the silence remains things that are meant to be hidden and scared, and we are not scared. They are the ones who should be, and they will. If we speak up.
Three – Change. One word. But oh, how we fight for it. Its not easy. Its not quick. But only if we speak out – loudly, vehemently, forcefully, can we make a difference. Only then can there be a permanent fullstop to rape culture and assault and gender-based violence. Only then can we be truthful when we tell our children that monsters live and stay only in the shadows. Only then can we leave this world knowing that it is a better place for our being there.
Its time we speak out.
Its time we shout it out from the rooftops.
For as a wise man once said, if you want change, be the change.