TW: Mentions Of Rape
On 13 August, Gauhati High Court granted bail to an accused IIT Gauhati student for a prima facie rape case stating that the accused was a ‘future asset.’
As a 14-year-old who reads this news, shivers run through my arm. I read it out to my (male) friend who considers the bond for bail and conditioned departure from Kamrup district ‘enough’ penance. He argues whether a future asset should be discarded for a better present or whether he should be preserved for a better future? “What if the victim is lying?” he asks. I don’t know how to reply.
All I know is this: The incompetence of the court will be the reason my parents will be scared to let me study, even at an IIT. It will be the reason I cannot drink even if I want to without doubting every sip that I take. It will be the reason that tomorrow I won’t be able to trust my guy friend who, until now, I think, is too human to rape me.
In 2012, a girl was raped by six men and succumbed to her injuries soon after. The juvenile rapist was sentenced to three years of imprisonment. All accused adults were convicted by 2013, however, it was not until seven years later that they were hung. Six fast-track courts were created for rape cases but the victim’s father remarked, “The promises of reform are unmet. I feel regret that I have not been able to bring justice to my daughter and other women like her.”
What happened over those seven years? The juvenile got out, 8000 more rape cases were seen in 2013 alone and we taught the rapists of this country that it will be at least seven years till they die if they get caught and so they can continue their sexual explorations at the cost of female lives. We call this case Nirbhaya: A fancy name to shroud the victim’s fate with the incompetence of our judicial system- a case that made no girl feel fearless.
In 2020, India saw the Hathras rape case in which a CBI probe was conducted. The UP government claimed it was a “deep-rooted conspiracy” and an “international plot” to defame the Yogi government. The victim was cremated without the consent or knowledge of the victim’s family, allegedly by petrol. The accused are in prison and claim that the family killed the victim due to her friendship with the main accused which they disapproved. No one knows what happened.
Gangrape charges are filed but the repercussions are faced by 19-year-old Dalit girls who are scared to see the light of the day lest they are raped. The media plays the footage from Hathras for four weeks on repeat then snoozes it- A girl from a village cannot go to college because of this.
Yes, I am a city girl. Yes, there are several differences in the urban and rural female populations in India but fear is a constant. Every conversation about travel or college or work either starts or ends with rape. My friend R says (vis a via IIT Gauhati rape case), “If at all I were to go with the HCs warped logic for a second, then the girl, who is also a fellow IITian, is also an asset. Then shouldn’t a case of harassment and sexual assault against an asset be treated with more severity than that which was shown in this case?” Others remark their fear and disgust.
Others remark their fear and horror after hearing that three students who were aware of some sexual activity taking place, decided that it must have been consensual according to their impression of the accused (GMCH proved sexual activity in case of the petitioner). They loathe the administration for turning a blind eye and ignoring the ICC’s recommendation of fine and suspension to the alleged accomplices.
My friend K feels anger but she is, after all, another 14-year-old who can do nothing but crouch behind the veils of patriarchy that try to save us from toxic masculinity. A is my closest friend. With an enraged tone, she says, “Look at what the future asset is being accused of doing now. Who knows what he will do in the future? Is this even a viable justification?” We sigh and buy another pepper spray because patriarchy is not done making excuses even if their actions (bail judgment) can be justified by legal means.
This is the result- the result of years of victim-blaming that prevails in India. It is the result of men using not all men against every accusatory statement that mentions men as a badge of I did not rape her. (Stop being ignorant of the crimes of fellow men because you will not commit a crime and start being pro-discussion). This is the result of the misogyny that led generations of transwomen to dance and beg for survival. This is the result of the shushed sex ed and inexistence of consent as a concept in India.
This is the result of the lack of conviction of marital rapists. However, it is easier to blame the girl so we should continue doing that. Please blame my short clothes, my occasional drinking which you call alcoholism, my will to study outside for better education, my act of making male friends, my having a boyfriend or girlfriend, my having a penis, or my audacity to earn more than a man or say no to sex because (honestly) I am used to it. Please refuse to blame your sons for their misdeeds because I have finally learned my position in this society. Please blame the rape on me.