They say everyone has a story. But when a girl says this to you in India, she means that story about her uncle who touched her inappropriately at an age when she did not even know what he was doing; or about that random stranger sitting beside her who ‘tried’ her, out of nowhere; or about her that first boyfriend who lacked the knowledge that women are also humans and forced himself on her, and she could not resist because she was a girl.
Thanks to the #MeToo initiative, there are lots of stories by now; and by lots, I mean you can look around and point to any one out of three girls and claim with full faith that she was sexually abused even before she turned sixteen, and 90% of the time, it will be a close relative of her. According to The Quint there are 106 rapes per day and 4 in every 10 victims are minors.
While discussing this with my mentor-cum-friend, she mentioned, and I quote, “More than rape, now the rape culture is the problem.” And that struck me. Talking about minors who face sexual abuse, I wrote this post to remind you about one.
A few weeks back, we had all our social media feeds bursting with a photo of a little girl from Mandsaur, near Kathua in Kashmir. We were all really charged up and were on a verge of really doing something. But then suddenly other interesting topics came up, and we realised that posting about her with a placard in our hands is not trending anymore. That is where the problem lies.
Do you see how rape culture is becoming our day-to-day life? We open up the newspaper (or whatever the news app you use) and we are now just programmed to ignore that headlines that read “rape”, or news about husband molesting his wife on that corner of the paper. We will come out on the streets for the target of sexual violence, but only when we think that it is trendy to do so.
What about the little girl from Kathua? Do you even remember her now? Or she was just a Facebook post for you? I marched with candles with her photo in my hand only to realize that we are secretly doing these things because everyone is doing the same. I also signed that petition saying “Hang the criminals” right away, and suddenly I realised that how foolish it was of me to say that without even understanding how our judicial system works.
There was “Nirbhaya”, there was “Gudiya”—but why take names?—there is every single one of those 106, every day. What changed for them? What changed for the girls in this country?
— Satish Acharya (@satishacharya) April 13, 2018
The other day I was traveling on a car, and I heard a song on the radio which literally says that “If you do not love me back I will kill myself”. Blackmail in our pop culture? We need to change our culture. We need to change ourselves. In a country where we cannot even talk about sex because we are sanskari, we rape out children in our mandirs.
You know where we have to start? We need to start it from the basic. We need to programme the word “consent” into the minds of not only Indian boys, but everyone. We need to teach them, educate them, and tell them that rape culture is not the way.
We need to change the whole thought process, and only then will things change. This post was clearly out of outrage and I also cannot give out a solution. But at least we can start a conversation, which is healthy and rational.
Until then scroll through your profile to find that post you published about the girl from Kathua. You might remember her again.