The filthy mirror

14/09/2021

The rapists of ‘Nirbhaya’ were hanged to death. The fear of capital punishment does not seem to have acted as a deterrent. Instances of rape have not reduced since ‘Nirbhaya’. A high degree of perversion leaves its signature in most sexual assault cases. Cases of post-rape violence on the victim are becoming common. Social progress in any society can be measured by how many men stop when a woman says no. Doing the measuring in India is problematic. It is a sickening Sunday, the newspapers full of news of rape. A man in his 30s allegedly raped a mentally challenged girl in Maharashtra’s Palghar. A 45-year-old was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping a seven-year-old in Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh. The body of a young national level kho-kho player was found dumped in Bijnor, also in UP, her face bruised, clothes pulled down. Her family claims that she was raped. And in India’s financial capital of Mumbai, a ‘Nirbhaya’ was enacted by a depraved man.
The issue at hand is not about the filing of FIRs, arrest of the accused and taking the case to trial. It is about the mindset. Minal Arora’s lawyer Deepak Sehgal tells the court in the film, Pink: “The single word, no, is a complete sentence in itself.” What nobody seems to explain is why it is so difficult to understand that sentence then. Rape, these days, inevitably leads to murder. It is not just about the rapist killing the victim because he wants to remain unidentified. There is an element of depravity that is being exhibited more and more, with the victims’ private parts horribly attacked after the initial violation. That indicates the work of a deranged man who seeks more than sexual gratification in a woman.
Society and the constitutional bodies need to wake up. Probes, committees and candlelight vigils are not going to work. We, as a people, have to debate our growing insensitivity to how women are treated. Even the judiciary is not exempt from this affliction. The order of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court is still fresh in everybody’s mind, that a man groping the breast of a child does not prove his sexual intent unless there is a “skin-to-skin contact”. Such orders disillusion victims who know that they can be denied justice if they fail to meet bizarre conditions.

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