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The Sakinaka Incident Is “Just Another” In A Long List Of Rape Cases

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*Trigger Warning: Mention Of Rape*

Within the past 3–4 days, the national dailies have highlighted at least 6–7 rape and assault cases of minors, homeless and whom not? Prior to it, there were cases wherein the crime was “measured” and the criminal set free on reasons that just don’t go down the gut.

A 6-year old was abducted from the footpath where she slept with her homeless parents and then raped. A civil volunteer was tortured, raped and murdered. A 14-year-old spoke of her assault a year later out of fear. Another 14-year-old was abducted from Pune station and gang-raped. A young athlete, a future asset, was raped and murdered. This all happened within a few days.

woman in dark
Representative Image. (Source: piqsels)

It’s boiling to read all of it. Imagine the conflict and pain they’ve been struggling with daily due to a trauma they didn’t deserve. And what about the minors? Do they even understand the concept of lust which attacks them and puts on their shoulders a nightmare, fear that they may never come out of?

And now, the case that is being politicised, more so after the suffered soul decided to leave this brutal world yesterday—the Sakinaka Mumbai rape case.

A woman thrown out of her house by her mother for having “too many fights” and was left alone with two minor daughters by her husband was raped inside a van at 3 a.m. The details genuinely make every heartbeat faster out of dread. I apologise; I can’t type them with these shivering hands.

A bystander, a watchman, did inform the police, but for God’s sake, had he taken an immediate step, we’d have probably not lost the woman. The police did come, but that Rakshas fled away. They claim they’ve arrested him now.

They found the victim in a pool of blood, they say. Well, there was probably a greater ocean of pain inside her, a wave of cry that a lustful, immoral man tamed down, hundreds of whose like still walk undaunted.

The Aftermath

They did get her admitted, but she succumbed within around 33 hours of a sheer struggle, probably less with the physical pain and more with the lethal trauma. And we failed yet again. Do you get this? An act for temporary pleasure by means of inflicting harm on an unknown, on an innocent, just bombed not one but three lives.

And what does she get in the name of justice? A few political promises and probably capital punishment to the accused some years down the lane? Now, while that is essential and much needed, it isn’t enough. Well, a party promises some quick “justice”, another blames them as if they themselves are clean of all blots. And the media would probably make a circus out of it.

Can any of it bring her back? Can any of it ensure that her two daughters, who face a fogged future now, would be guaranteed safety and that what happened to their mom would never happen to them?

Well, mind the fact here that no authority has mentioned her daughters or any preventive measures, which clearly shows that the ones we’ve been trusting are not concerned but work on ulterior motives. The little ones would surely grow with a fir of fear or anger. Like every previous instance, they’ve termed it “Nirbhaya” and wish to please the public by claims of some enquiries and punishments.

I mean, who would explain it to them that they can’t just bury an axe after it has cut down trees and be easy enough to say that no more would be cut down if they’re doing nothing to stop the iron that’s making those axes.

Capital punishment, though essential, but just to one or two of the perpetrators, out of the 1000s of them, is no shield to women. Rather, more the cases, greater the fear, lesser the chutzpah of ensuring one’s own safety and an ascending divide between the genders because, after all, the perpetrators are growing, and the mindset that is forging them is just not ending.

Terming a rape victim “Nirbhaya” doesn’t make the rest Nirbhaya (a fearless woman), rather increases the fear and suspicion over the opposite gender at once. No one fails to understand that cases are picked and chosen as per their potential of raising a political drama.

A Dalit or Muslim woman being raped never makes it to mainstream media. Rather it leaves the world with a stigma that no one fails to put on them and their families.

If men are still brought up with an assumed superiority to them, and if women are still “given” and “taken” as objects. If lust still grows to the extent that it allows one to inflict such pain to the other unabashedly, believe me, there is actually no end to it.

I don’t know about how this case unfolds, while I am sure the rest of less “political potential” would be measured and hidden behind the curtains, below the files and covered with notes of bribery. I am sure if the following are not corrected, there might be a time when women themselves would choose not to interact, not to live in a mortal world, and then keep worshipping the “Devi”, but she won’t return.

What’s Actually Wrong?

woman
Representative Image.

The mindset that generations have been fed with is that men are superior, more powerful and rightful, and women of any age are their “property” they can restrict/allow/use or dispose of. It doesn’t only show in such acrimonious crimes, but also in the daily course of house-life. Recall the instances and you’d know yourself.

The casualty with which a woman’s voice is crushed by that of a man’s wish.

The parochial behaviour of bystanders and passers; the attitude of ”hum kyun beech mein bolen” when a woman faces crime, domestic violence or is let down within her own family. And the same silent audience wouldn’t fail to make comments when a woman is happy in a consented, mutual relationship, but would watch the drama when she is subdued as if some toxic TV serial is going on.

The basic lessons taught to the kids: to the males when it is about how dominating and masculine they’re expected to be, which later takes the form of a dominating ego which washes away the common sense about the other’s rights and consents.

To the females, when it is about how sensitive and mannered they are, how they can cry but not pick the sword, how they should seek protection rather than be their own shield, how they should submit and not speak.

And this, the attitude of “providing protection” rather than aiding women to be “independent” for themselves gives another leverage to the males for assuming that they hold greater control over the females as they alone can protect and, thus, they alone can decide for them.

Once a woman would learn to live and overcome crimes in her own way, by herself, it is when she’d know about her rights over her own selves and would know why no one else may claim rights over her as if she is property.

Most importantly, rape isn’t about “family honour” but about the intrusion of the limits of a woman’s consent over her body and desires, about the physical and mental violence to the individual and about dismantling of the fundamental human values.

The moment this is understood, a family, society, a female shall stop being ashamed of themselves for the pain they faced and would unequivocally get the criminal in front of the world.

Normalise sex education. We need to understand that desire for pleasure is as basic to humans as any other physical need. But since the rest of them are normalised and are handled casually, no one salivates so overly at food or water that they’d harm people for it.

Thus, if kids are talked to about the concept of sex, consent and harmless gratification, this urge too can be controlled and expressed without such hype. This would also ensure that teenagers and adults (both males and females) don’t drool over the opposite gender and inflict harm to them for the mere gratification of their own needs, that too in unacceptable ways.

This would make kids understand that when interacting with a human, focus more on their intellectual aspects, thereby reducing the gender gap and making the environment more inclusive for males, females, and LGBTQIA+.

Conclusion

Make your boys understand that they’re no superior but equal, that they’re gentle when they offer help but are not expected to assume ownership over whom they help.

Tell them that basic value to human life, consent and rights is way more than some evil urges that seek temporary physical pleasure and gratification to the superiority ego. Tell them, the female is an equal counterpart, not an object, and so is a fellow being from the LGBTQIA+ community.

Make sure your girls understand that they can protect themselves, that they shouldn’t fear but glow with the confidence that nature has already blessed them with. Tell her that her hormones do support compassion but also that they don’t make any basis for submission in the name of ensuring the peace of the family.

Tell her that she needs to pick the sword when need be. Tell her she is enough and that no one at all has the right to dominate/decide for her.

Otherwise, we shall grow in a world where women would just doubt every single man, and as I mentioned earlier, be quick or else you may not find women in this world. So respect her when she’s here as Parvati, or be prepared to be beheaded by Kali.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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