A newspaper or a book has always been art to me. I love the smell of paper as I turn pages. My penchant for reading made me read newspapers daily as a child in India. I loved crime thriller novels, so clearly the section I always went to was crime section. Each day I saw a new rape case in the newspaper, either in India or elsewhere. I was too young to know what rape meant, but even then I knew it was real bad. My ideology was if there were no pictures attached, it wasn’t good! Today knowing what I know, I am glad it did not have pictures.
Rapes in India have graduated from being a common fixture in local newspapers to international media. It breaks my heart and shames me. I take great pride in my country and my culture. We as a culture have hundreds of deities, women who were the driving force behind men. Women in India to a certain extent represent exactly that. She is fearless and strong, shy yet resilient, submissive yet very aggressive when required. She is powerful. India has a strong history of strong women. We had an Indira Gandhi, a lady Prime Minister in the 1960’s, long before America or the rest of the world knew how powerful women can be. We call our country Mother India. Yet the daughters in her land are not safe.
I have read several versions of what needs to happen to solve the problem. Some horrible things like women should not go out after dark hours to don’t wear x, y or z clothes. Some sensible ones like teach the boys to respect women. As I read these many opinions, I wondered is it that hard to just be human. True, parents need to teach their children to respect women, but how about treating her like a human being. I don’t see men walking around just punching other men just because, or tearing someone’s shirt because oh, he really liked the shirt. When men can be humans with other men, why can’t they be human with women? Rape is worse than punching someone without a reason; it is tearing a person’s soul out of their body for those few minutes or hours. As a woman, I can only imagine what the girl might be going through during this ordeal.
Rape has become a hobby in India. Each day there is a new case, and we believe death penalty is going to send the message across. Yet, even after the death penalty, men continue to rape women and children. Raping children, my brain cannot wrap around that concept- it completely disgusts me. I don’t know what the punishment needs to be- to me there is no punishment that can do justice to the crime that rape is. Yet, here we are wondering how we can raise better kids. How about we teach them to respect life, all kinds of life irrespective of color, gender, and sexual orientation? We as a culture have forgotten what is important, and somewhere compassion has been replaced with aggression.
Rape happens everywhere around the world. There are women right now as we speak who are trying to put the pieces together, and just want to be heard. So it is not just India. Don’t pity me for growing up in India. My country is not a specimen in the rape zone, it’s everywhere in the world. Women everywhere are fighting this battle alone. So don’t tell her what she needs to do. Instead treat her like she needs to be treated- a human being!