So, an 8-year-old girl got raped and killed. You put up a black DP for Asifa. Cool. You even filed a petition or signed one created by another outraged friend. You planned a candlelight vigil. What? Had you done that for Nirbhaya too? The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result, isn’t it?
Let us do some math. When was Nirbhaya raped and killed? December 2012. That’s more than 5 years ago. Now let’s look at some rape statistics.
24923 rapes were reported in India in 2012. In 2016, the number stands at 34651. And this is the official reported number. I’m not even getting into the legal definition of rape in India, or the exclusion of marital rape and the likes.
So, what purpose did your candlelit-feel good-march serve? Did it serve justice to Nirbhaya? Well, she was way beyond the realms of justice. Did it serve justice to her friends and family? Probably no. It did create some awareness and angst amongst the urban mass, but it did not solve any of the real problems.
So let’s get back to the original question? What exactly are you planning to do with the petition that you’ve just created for Asifa? Did you create one for the 11-year-old in Surat too? Why not? If yes, would you create one petition for each of the 34000 raped Indian women?
Let’s face the truth. You aren’t changing the world from the edge of your keyboard. You’re just playing the age-old game of chain letters with zero social impact. The truth hurts, but I do not see the point of these petitions. They simply do NOT matter.
Should we do nothing then?
Is there anything you can do from the corner of your protected world, without rocking your boat too much, you ask? Well, maybe. But it is going to be uncomfortable. Instead of changing your DP or signing a petition, can you:
1. Put your foot down to the casual misogyny around you? Keep your eyes and ears open – it’s everywhere. From your family WhatsApp Group to your elected Government.
If you have LOLed along at a ‘B*!^#es ruin lives’ meme, because you hate confrontation, there’s no point outraging against rape.
2. Talk about S-E-X with your children, without mumbling idiotic explanations? Use the words vagina, penis, breasts when you speak, can you? Also, take off your incredibly judgmental filter when you view sexuality. Sex between two consenting adults is as natural as feeding or sleeping. Just get over it.
Don’t create repressed, sex-starved monsters in your pristine backyard, ok?
3. Try to understand and teach the concept of consent? This one is tricky, yeah, because Bollywood has been telling us for ages that stalking, even objectifying or sexualizing, equals love. But, can you please understand/teach your kids that when they hear a ‘no’, no matter how friendly, smiling or indulging they think the speaker is, they need to back the heck off?
4. Stop saying “I am sorry for her, but”? Seriously. Anything you say after that ‘but’ is lame. Anything. She was a prostitute, she wore a revealing dress, she took the wrong turn, she shouldn’t have provoked the wrong crowd, she shouldn’t have been drinking, she shouldn’t have been out.
If you have said, ‘Sorry, but’, you are lame. Ok. Stop that.
5. Fact check before you pass anything on? Please. You are one Google search, and a little bit of mindful reading away from discerning facts from opinions. Use that one additional minute before using the superpower of your unlimited internet to enlighten the world!
6. Check your faith for updates? I mean, I am all for freedom of faith. Really. It is a matter of personal choice, after all. But, when you believe in anything or everything someone says, without stopping to ask questions, you are falling into a trap. The same one that many followers of the world’s worst tyrants have fallen into.
So, instead of trusting your Baba/Maata/Maulvi/Father, or your political hero, on their face value, have the guts to ask relevant questions, ya?
There, do these six things instead of putting up black DPs and signing petitions. Then, maybe, hopefully, in 15-20 years, India will stop being the Rape Basket of the World.
Edit: We are very glad that this piece has provoked such great conversations online and offline. There is one thing we want to call out though. If you are someone (male or female, and we hope many of you are male) who does all the six things anyhow, then our angry, emotional, slightly mean and pompous (as has been rightfully pointed out) rant is not against you. Sorry if it felt like that. We are just glad and humbled to have you in our corner.