It Hurts

The first time it made it onto TV news was in 2001. I was 10.
Two women were at a New Year party-parade celebration near my house (Mumbai) , and they were groped, molested, and raped by several men, while the others in the crowd merely looked on and did nothing, not one finger was lifted to help for a long time. It was a big, breaking news story that new year.

PC: Neha Poonia
A majority of ministers, news channels, and general public blamed the woman. She was wearing a short, tight, glittery, sleeveless black dress. I heard it being said a million times by a million people that she had brought it upon herself -- why was she out that late in the night, why was she dressed 'obscenely', 'accused' her of having a drink or two ; even went to the extent of saying that she almost deserved it for being a 'loose woman'. This was a warning to all the girls in the country, toe the line, or you will be brutally punished.

The faces of some of the rapists were caught on camera, others' were not, the woman filed a case against those that could be traced. There was a vague investigation. And then the story disappeared.

                                                     I was 10, I didn't care or understand. I readily swallowed the 'it was her fault' rhetoric with a mumbled they shouldn't have done it, but also the girl shouldn't have been out that late, and that's all, it was off my mind. I assumed they were 'sluts', why else would they have provoked hormonal men? The men were in the wrong but, so were the women.
I've to pause here, I get nauseous thinking back at it, remembering those ideas my young brain had assimilated.

Since then (2001), invariably, every single new year's there's a gang rape story in India; best case scenario involves simple rape (by one person).

In 2017, a girl isn't as overtly accused as she was in 2001. In 2017, a raped girl gets dirty looks, hears whispers about her- 'bad character' , enjoying it, asking for it, suing falsely for money.

                               All this, of course, is aimed at the few brave girls who report the incidents, there are countless others who don't want to publicize the destruction of their 'honor' and that of their family, who are told it's better to be dead than admit to the 'shameful' act of getting raped, because she should be ashamed of her unclean, dirty, and violated body; that she should be punished for shamelessly 'allowing' her rape to happen. 

In 2017, I physically lash out at people who speak ill of the victim to me.

And these are the 'only' two things that have changed in 16 years.

The New Year's news never changed. EVERY-SINGLE-YEAR it happened, every single year the media went into a frenzy for a week before promptly forgetting all about it till the next year, and with it ,the fresh victims/criminals turned up.

Today, 16 years later, I'm not ten. I groggily turn on the news, and there it is, again, the exact same story, the same details, and metaphorically, even the same woman.

I was indifferent at 10, I am helpless at 27.

And I KNOW (indisputedly) that I'll pick up the newspaper on 2 Jan 2018 and read the story I've been reading for 16 years.

I don't have a solution, I don't know how I can help, I don't know if it will ever change, and that hurts, being born with a vagina hurts.


  1. Well put. The only thing you can do about this is attack it at the level of culture, which is what your doing here.


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