A woman photojournalist was gangraped by five men in Lower Parel, Mumbai, last night at around 8pm. She was accompanied by a male colleague. The incident took place near Shakti Mills when the 23-year-old woman, working with an English magazine, was on an assignment, doing a story on a ‘chawl’. The perpetrators of the crime tied up the man accompanying her and raped her.
On the 18th August, CNN covered a blog written by one student of the University of Chicago, RoseChasm. The blog described, in great detail, this young woman’s experiences in India. She spoke about how men groped, clawed and stalked her. While the report was painful to read, there was something more in there that made me feel like we live in a society that is more regressive than I’d like to believe. According to RoseChasm’s blog, the university’s advice to the women travelling to India was to “dress conservatively and not to smile in the streets”.
What has changed in the DNA of our society that a woman’s smile can be viewed as an invitation of assault? Why are we breeding a set of degenerates who think a woman’s outfit, profession or life choices are reasons for her to be ‘put in her place’.
I am led to believe that there are no answers, at least not ones that make any damn sense. I realized that as a woman I am supposed to feel placated by the Home Minister delivering a statement where he says that the accused will be arrested. As a citizen of this nation, I feel grateful for any form of justice or even with an unfulfilled promise of it. I am conditioned to feel protected when the spokesperson of an opposition party states that the ruling party has failed the country.
As an Indian woman, I feel exhausted. I am exhausted by the predictability of what will follow. While I am sure that politicians will cry themselves hoarse about how steps will be taken to make this nation a safer place, petitions will make the rounds, protests will be silenced and Mumbai will be called the next Delhi, I also know that there will be an enlightened bunch that will rationalize this atrocity to this woman’s choice of clothes, her profession, the man who accompanied her or the number of fucking times she blinked when she looked helplessly at the group of disgusting excuses for men. I am also terrified. I am terrified because everytime we witness violence against women, there are little to no implications for men but there are a whole new bunch of innovative ways devised to make women feel weak, subservient and oppressed.
I am exhausted of feeling relieved when I can travel to someplace without being harmed, I am exhausted of feeling relieved that it isn’t my turn yet. I am exhausted of feeling like I had a great day when men don’t make lewd comments at me or when I can wear what I please. It might seem like I’m making this about me and you couldn’t be more right. It is about me and every other woman out there who feels like her safety is a gift bestowed on her that she is responsible for.
The young photojournalist may become the face of the next anti-rape campaign and she will be given brave names like Laadli or Nirbhaya but despite her courage she might never feel safe. We won’t either.
Tell me when we can feel privileged enough to tell off men who violate our rights, not as women but as human beings? So tell me, where do we go to be safe?
Here are the 5 suspects of the #MumbaiGangRape
Here are a few examples of the rationalization and the obnoxious mentality we display: