Friday, December 21, 2012

Of Rape and other fears

The whole country is thinking of rape now. Since Sunday, rape is on their mind. “The Delhi incident” I have heard it being referred to in more formal situation and in male-female interaction, skillfully avoiding the word ‘Rape.’ Men and women bother all over the country are horrified. Facebook statuses are showcasing the shock, the anger and the helplessness. Denizens are asking for death penalties and public hangings and such (I saw a couple of pictures of something horrible happening in Lebanon and shuddered!!)

Having had this fear of rape since I was a child of 4 or 5 (I was a precocious kid) I have some very precise thoughts on this. And I know I can’t be alone in this. I am sure all women in the country if not the world have had and continue to have feelings like this. And it’s just not fear; things come to pass - a grope, a slap on the ass, an elbow in the chest and the like and believe it or not once a kiss on the knee. It all was horrible. It didn’t affect me physically, at least not beyond a few moments, but the feeling of invasion of space remains, mostly forever. The fear of rape changes a woman’s quality of life. I have never taken a walk alone or sat alone or stood alone in public without being guarded, stoic, making no eye-contact. Alone, (and sometimes with my sister and other girl friends) I have never let that guard down. I am always careful with my interaction with strange men. I trust no one. After the knee kissing incident, I don’t behave very well with anyone. Sometimes I am extra aggressive if I feel that someone is coming into my private space. I am very mean. And friends (guys) wonder and ask why I am so confrontational and mean and aggressive. I don’t know what to tell them. All of that comes from being cold and being possessive of my personal space.

Most men (and some women and society in general) don’t understand a very simple thing. When a girl is harassed or eve-teased, the men in her life feel really bad. The first reaction is probably, “If I were there, I would have hit/hurt/killed him.” The second reaction, “Why were you there?” Why were you walking alone in the night? Why were you walking near a slum area? Why did you take that auto? Why did you take that route? I have been asked these questions some time or the other. I have fought and reclaimed my right to do what I want. Even at the risk of extreme harm, I will not let anyone take over my independence.

More thoughts on this coming up soon…