The issue about which I want to write today has less to do with Parenting and more to do with the Society at large. But you cannot deny that it is closely related.
In the wake of the recent rape cases in Mumbai, Delhi, everywhere; I strongly believe that apart from strict laws, there are 2 things we must focus on:
Women must demand unconditional access to public space
Recently, I happened to read this interview of Flavia Agnes,who is a women’s rights lawyer and founder of Majlis. Amidst deafening hue and cry about how Mumbai, once considered the safest Indian city for women, is going the Delhi way; she points out that things have not changed much. It is not the first time a rape has happened in Mumbai, and Mumbai is still a relatively safer city in India compared to any other city. After all, sense of safety is a perception of the populace.
It is relevant to reference this extremely important book called ‘Why Loiter? Women & Risk on Mumbai Streets’ by Shilpa Phadke, Sameera Khan, Shilpa Ranade. This book suggests that women must fight for the unconditional right to access public space. It is surprising how we, as women, have got so accustomed to justifying our presence in the public space that it is now internalised in our systems. Discussing rape is a micro-aspect if we want to really deal with it.
It invariably spirals into discussions about what the woman was doing at the place, with whom, etc. Such discussions are unproductive and never fruitful. The moment we start demanding unconditional access to public space, we assert our right to be at any place, at any time. We don’t have to give a reason; and therefore no questions about if the woman was ‘asking for it’.
Stigma attached to rape [loss of virginity]
In her interview, Ms. Agnes points out that the biggest change that is apparent today is the attitude of people towards the rape ‘survivor’. She is not forced to feel bad about herself. You must have also read how the young woman has very strongly given a message that though it was an unfortunate incident, yet it is certainly not the end of life for her. She wants to get back to her work as soon as possible. The determination of this young woman is exemplary and laudable. It also reminds me of this article I read few months back through Facebook Shares. I insist that you read it. This article was by a rape survivor Sohaila who has put forth some very important points about how she believed her life was more precious than ‘saving her virginity’.
Due to tremendous social stigma attached to rape, many victims are not able to come forward to report the crime and therefore the perpetrators move around freely, many times even blackmailing the victims. They know ‘navigating the justice delivery system is an ordeal only the few brave ones can endure’. The strict laws can really work when this social stigma goes away and when ‘victims’ will move forward and report the crime; otherwise they are of no consequence.
You may argue why I chose to write about it on this platform. I strongly felt the urge to do so. As parents, we have very important roles in moulding our future generation and shaping their outlook. At least you will agree that the current situation in the society is disturbing. If we really want to move ahead, let us just stop making so much noise about rape. Yes, it is unfortunate but a life is much more precious and a ‘survivor’ must not be forced to carry around the weight of this one experience throughout her life. We need to end this social stigma. That will be a big step ahead for women, and of course the society.
Do you agree?
Reema Sahay is a Stay-At-Home-Mom, Freelance Writer, Voracious Reader, Passionate Blogger, Social Media Enthusiast, Internet Junkie and Ex-Marketing Communication Professional. She spends her days running after her very curious toddler, ‘the star’, and catching up on books when he naps. She writes about charms and challenges of life at Pen Paper and shares her passion for books at Recommend Books. She sometimes feels that her 5.5 years stint in Marketing Communication was in another life