By Soumya Raj:
On 8th February, 2014, 10:30 at night, a 14 year old Manipuri girl steps out of her home in Munirka to buy a dish-washing soap. Her landlord’s 19 year old son, Ashish, aka Vicky, follows her, and with a supposed accomplice, drags her from in front of a hospital in the area, locks her into a nearby room and rapes her repeatedly for the entire night. As after the incident she relates the story to her parents, she is taken to the Vasant Vihar Police Station to file an FIR. The landlord’s son is soon arrested, the minor girl taken for counseling and immediate treatment of the wounds she suffered from the sexual assault, to the nearby Safdarjung Hospital.
The reportage shows hundreds of students, activists and media thronging outside the police station demanding why it happened. Why did it happen? Are adolescent girls that go out to buy dish-washing bars unsuspectingly, supposed to be raped, or are people from a specific region supposed to be put at the receiving end of several hate crimes by a xenophobic people? There were people from North East there too, I was there, I saw. But I will refuse to specifically mention it as, “students, activists, media AND people from North East,” because no, if I do this, I am distinguishing them unknowingly, I am inconspicuously ousting them from the specific crowd of our nation’s capital, and I do not want to do that. I am sure there were East Indians, North Indians, South Indians, West Indians, Indians from all directions in India present there, and if I start mentioning specifically about all of them, the solidarity in our unity is gone. We will pride ourselves on the way we demarcate people on the basis of where they come from, how they look, the language they speak, and so on, and we will never stop. So no, I will not add to this racial bigotry. I will not mention them specifically. It’s our collective shame that a girl got raped, and got raped because she belonged to a definite race, and the burden of this pain doesn’t belong to the people from North East India only; but is for the entire country’s to bear.
The hurt from the death of Nido Tania is still fresh, and Delhi is faced with another example of racial oppression. I am not even going to mention how shameful this narrow-mindedness is. Isn’t it self-explanatory? A young student is beaten to death in an act of prejudice and no one around helps him, how is this justified? As much as our progress represents us, our crimes represent us equally. It is mortifying to know that the expansive capital city of our nation houses some of the most disgusting crimes witnessed by the country in the decade. How is women living in constant fear of being raped any day, at any point, a sign of anything but a regressive country?
The city treats racially and culturally different people like shit. When one of the highest authorities in the nation present in the city doesn’t understand why a man loves a man and a woman loves a woman, they call it unnatural and try to shove it away under a carpet of bigotry and move on like it’s no big deal. We witness unimaginable sexual violence, unbearable acts of sexual invasion every single day, and no, I am not talking about only women, I am talking about lesbians, gays, transgender, bisexuals, everybody. Rape is not acceptable. A forceful penis/foreign object up our body is not justified, no matter who does it or why. The worst part is that there is no urgency in addressing this alarming issue. When people feel endangered to step out of their houses, when they are hunted down like helpless, weak preys of carnal crimes, when there is no one, not the police, the officials, a weapon, a safety app, or walking in a group of twenty people who can take this nagging fear from your heart away, when a basic human instinct to safety is being smashed by the foot of patriarchy and oppression, there needs to come a change, and it needs to come fast.
What is worse than attacking someone for belonging to a particular social or biological affiliation? What is worse than uprooting a simple, straightforward human right to a safe and secure life? And what is worse than being made to feel ashamed of belonging to a particular social or biological affiliation, to be blamed for being the way you are, and to be punished gravely for it? What is this sexual/racial bigotry, except a desperate attempt to establish that, “Hey, the way nature created you is wrong, and you should be punished for it. You should be ashamed of belonging to this gender/ethnicity/race/geography. It is inferior and you completely deserve this mistreatment.”
I shall conclude by saying, that any kind of prejudice reduces the capability of a living human being to a project of hatred, to an ill-conceived notion that there is a certain superiority in the creation of some of us than others, and it justifies bullying the supposedly “inferior” or “different” for being the way they are. Nothing, nothing is worse than this. To condense a human being into an idea of detestation, to make a person feel ashamed of being the way they are, to molest them and rape them and beat them to death for it, are all acts of disgusting animalism. We are not united in our diversity, today, we are distanced in our diversity as ever, and this demon is ours to fight, yours and mine.
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at [email protected] You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.