The word ‘rape’ was first introduced to my vocabulary when I was merely 10 years old, and I overheard two girls speaking about it in my classroom, in hushed tones. When I asked them what it was, they said to me “Bad things that happen to girls who go out with boys without telling their parents and wear mini skirts”. Being the young and impressionable child that I was, I was certain that I wouldn’t ever get raped, because of course, I could stop wearing miniskirts, and I’d never want to be around a boy without telling my parents.
Fast forward to 8 years later, when I happened to read about the 2-year-old little baby girl who was abducted, raped, and left to die on the side of the road, by the time her family could come to her rescue. There was just one question in my mind: was it the baby’s skirt that caused the rape, or was it the non-existent boy that the baby was around that caused it? And suddenly, nothing seemed just in the world anymore.
It’s been five years since the events of 16 December 2012 brought the gory details of one of the worst incidents of rape to ever have occurred in the history of sexual assault against women. As Nirbhaya lay fighting for her life and people stormed the streets demanding justice in a society that didn’t give a shit about a woman’s equal right to exist in her community, we all hoped and prayed for a better future for women everywhere.
Five years on, and at the end of 2017, we are no closer to an effective justice system for guilty sex offenders, let alone have preventive measures in place for a safe society for women.
Take a look at some of the most brutal rapes that occurred in India over just the past year:
- In May, a decomposing body of a 23-year-old woman was discovered near the Industrial Model of Township in Rohtak; the woman was abducted, gang-raped, had her face and skull smashed in with bricks. Her body had been run over by a car, to ensure that she wouldn’t be recognised by the police.
- In June, a 19-year-old mother was gang-raped and her eight-month-old baby was thrown out on the road from a shared auto, in Gurugram.
- A 14-year-old from Bihar was raped by six minors, beaten up, and flung off a train, one of the rapists being a junior from her school.
- A 15-year-old girl was raped and set on fire by one man and a minor who entered her house while she was asleep.
- Four women were gang-raped on the Jewar-Bulandshahr road, off the Yamuna Expressway.
- Three men abducted and raped a 26-year-old woman from Sikkim for five hours in a moving car on the Delhi-Gurgaon border, before being dumped in the capital.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to rapes that have taken place in the year 2017, that too because these were reported to the police and brought to attention by the mainstream media. There are so many more heartbreaking cases of sexual assault, and harassment that have gone unreported, and we all remain one step closer to being blissfully unaware of the rapist filth that roam free, undetected, in our midst.
According to the data released by National Crime Record Bureau, the number of reported cases of rape amongst the states in India was shocking, with Madhya Pradesh recording 4,391 cases, Maharashtra at 4,144, Rajasthan with 3,644 cases, Uttar Pradesh recording 3,025, Odisha with 2,251 and Delhi with 2,199.
How many more statistics do we need thrown at our faces to shake ourselves to the reality that we live in a crime-infested society that needs to treat its women with dignity and respect, and not be humiliated and murdered like we’re nothing but objects for the men who rape, without a fibre of humanity in them?
How much longer should we suffer until society wakes up and realises that its women are suffering helplessly at the hands of dangerous perpetrators and that for many, sexual harassment is an everyday battle - one they can’t fight alone?
Images: Al Jazeera, The Telegraph