Help me, for I don’t know who to blame anymore.
Many people are concerned that media and social media has highlighted only two particular cases while the rest of the country continues to have incidents where it’s daughters are facing the same atrocities. True, very true. Before we go on endorsing the proud statistic of having one of the lowest rate of rape per capita, lets also look at the fact that only 5-6% rapes are reported. And since we don’t even count marital rape as rape, the statistics can be unreliable and unpredictable.
But despite all this, is it true that we have ‘selective outrage’ then? Well, in my opinion it is wrong to term it as selective outrage in the first place. Because what we are implying is that we don’t feel anger, shame or sympathy for the other cases we see and hear about everyday. What happened in 2012 and in 2018 is the end of tolerance.
We as a population have become used to being tolerant and feeling helpless at our daily social issues. People are aware of whats happening, but we always hear the phrase “ab kya kar sakte hai” or “Kuch nahi hoga iss desh ka”.
Many of us do try to bring social change, just not enough of us. You could give many reasons for this- many families don’t want their kids to become social warriors and leave a path of comfort. Many, trying to get out of the social and economical struggle themselves, feel they can’t focus on others when they’re still struggling on their own.
In 2012, the reality hit too close to home for the youth, a generation which comparatively claims to feels more aware and responsible for social issues. Brutal rape cases only existed where poverty existed, where lack of development was a way of life, where women got married at 12 and had kids at 14. In the protected bubble of the minority city life of India, rape was a distant thought for many of us.
Then one day, a young girl, in a popular area of Delhi, during a completely normal hour, was watching a film with a boy, a completely normal activity for many of those who always felt that the reality of rape and its brutality is a distant thing from urban lives. Raped in the most brutal manner in a moving bus around the capital, this case caught the imagination of the people. Its difficult to say why one incident catches attention more than the other. But, its important to remember that while one was furious about the incident in question, their frustration empathised with all the other cases and the social reality. It became an outlet, where you could burst out and hold those in position accountable. And they did pay a price no doubt. Laws and definition surrounding rape was changed and made stricter, a ruling government of 10 years lost in what can easily be called a big political embarrassment. We thought we did enough, we protested, we cried, we spoke about it in lengths in schools, in families, wherever we could really. We changed laws and we changed governments.
Many of us didn’t expect overnight change. For the problem of rape in India is caused by multiple factors such as illiteracy, social norms, poverty etc. We waited, we waited. But then, when we saw more cases coming up still, from kids in school being raped to girls in villages being gang raped in similar brutality, if not worse, we waited to see if at least the response would improve. And we saw the same trend. Blame game, unexplained silence for long period of time, general responses and some ministers on both sides/ multiple sides doing their part in victim blaming, culture blaming, religion blaming but never, ever culprit blaming. The tolerance and anger built up broke once again when the rape cases not only involved stupid statements from parties, but actual party workers rallying for the rapists (from both sides) and getting away even though they are the accused. The fact that even after the incident of 2012, after being present in 2018 claiming to overtake other economies by so and so year and defeating so and so in military, we have politicians that sit in the parliament facing no moral shame or consequences for their views, inability and their filthy mouth, one’s tolerance had to break again.
Its too soon to tell what consequence will come out of this outrage. How much more stricter can we make the laws? Now which government should we bring in? Which party should we turn to now when all of them only seem capable of doing the same thing they criticise? Maybe the lesson here is that in its true sense, democracy and the responsibility to uphold it falls on the people. But again, who do I blame? Do I blame myself for not protesting every time a rape case fills my home feed, or do I blame all the political parties for only being morally righteous and ambitious when they’re in opposition? Do I blame the inequality and subtle sexism that we let go of everyday around us, in shows, in Bollywood movies, knowing that it influences a massive proportion of our population? Do I blame the Bollywood stars for only using their voice once we are out on the streets or when they have a movie releasing on the related topic? Do I blame regressive family values that are imposed on kids, and school systems that don’t give kids a way to learn about alternative values? Do I blame teachers for promoting victim blaming? Do I blame myself for not being in a position to do something about it?
Guess what? You and I have done all of the blaming above. We tried everything, we went to everyone and we still remain the same. And honestly, when one asks me for solutions, I’m slowly running out of ideas. I would say improve education, but quality still seems questionable across the country. A recent video of school kids in Haryana showed both boys and girls stating that in rape, the girl is to be blamed as well. One girl even proudly revealed the source of this idea- her teacher. So how did education help here? Why didn’t anyone take action against such a school and teacher for corrupting our younger generation?
I would say, kill the rapists. But post Nirbhaya, that still hasn’t worked. Change the government. What the point? I’m still waiting for all the parties to remove the criminals they have as members, as ministers and the filth spitting animals on TV that represent them.
I’m sick of hearing that I should be thankful to live in a country where rape statistics are better. I’m tired of having an eruption of anger after 4-5 years, only to be disappointed yet again by those who promise change. Who do I blame? At this point, or in the near future, I just don’t know anymore.