Recently, a close friend of mine showed me a video regarding rape cases in Haryana, India. I’ve been closely examining this problem since the horrific gang rape that took place in 2013 – and it saddens me, that this problem seems to only worsen 5 years later. After watching the video, I no longer felt the same sadness or anger I used to feel when I first read about the problem. I feel numb now, however, I know that there’s a larger part of me that feels rather empowered to speak up about this problem.
I always believed rape culture became increasingly prevalent due to the lack of education present but I, now, realise – the problem isn’t the lack of education because education is being recieved, perhaps it is not being recieved in the best of ways. We’re still teaching our children to grow up to be bigoted, be fearful and stray away from self-expression. It shocked me to see how influential teachers can be when sharing conservative cultural views with students- some completely forcing students to conform to societal norms.
I paid less attention to the opinions of the adults in the video, mainly because I was aware of the fact that even if things were going to change- change wouldn’t begin with them. Rather I focused more on the children, every inch of me hoping this video would get better because I believed their mindsets would be different and promising. However, as the video progressed- my heart sank more and more. The younger boys seemed to repeat the same words spoken by the adults. I learnt that cultural values or perhaps, the bigoted beliefs of the older generation were being embedded in the education of the new generation. It began to anger me- the fact that some individuals in this video spoke about rape so nonchalantly. I will never quite understand how victim blaming is even rationalised. When a woman is raped, she’s often asked ‘what were you wearing’ or ‘why were you out so late?’ but less people seem to question the actions of the rapist. I was shocked to learn the ‘clapping’ ideology individuals in the video were taught – ‘it takes two to high 5, the girl definitely should be blamed also.’ It’s saddening to believe that this is the reality some individuals are exposed to daily.
I can’t even begin to describe the anger I feel when some people can openly belittle the trauma experienced by rape victims as if their pain is so easily explainable? Nobody has the right to provide their judgements about how anyone should react or feel. I don’t know what’s more appalling than some politicians advising on child marriages as a solution to end rape. As I watched on, the younger girls mentioned women were equal to men or girls were better- my faith in humanity was restored but a part of me, unfortunately, realised that by the time these girls are 16 years old, there’s a high chance of them being sucked into the same cycle of child marriages and being silenced in the patriarchal society they grew up in. Unless, things change.
I used to strongly believe that including sex education in school curriculums (especially those in rural communities) would change things in India- and I still believe so but I’m not so sure if those with conservative mindsets would agree to this. I’m confident there will be many rebuking this idea- calling it a ‘westernized’ concept or ‘Bollywood culture ruining the youth’ but I don’t know what will ruin the youth more than ignorance of social issues that need to be dealt with. If we don’t talk about the problem at homes or outside- when are we going to discuss this openly?
This is a universal problem that needs to be dealt with. This is not just a traumatic event an individual deals with- this is OUR problem. It is our responsibility to contribute to change. This is not about teaching individuals how not to get raped, this is about teaching them not to rape. Don’t just offer condolences or prayers or sad react to posts- do something! Spread awareness. Educate yourself on the issue. Educate others.
As a society, we will refuse to accept rape victims simply being categorised as a statistic. Rape victims are not the problem and nor will the problem confine them. Those who commit heinous crimes deserve capital punishment. End rape culture. How much longer are we going to tolerate individuals who believe these heinous acts are ‘consensual’ or even comparable to ‘clapping’? Enough is enough. We will fight and continue to fight for those who deserve justice.