It has been a week of churn for me. Ever since the details regarding the Kathua case began emerging in all their gruesome horror, I’ve been choked. The knot in my intestines refuses to disentangle itself. The hands tremble at the keyboard, with both rage and despair. An impotent rage that bangs itself against the impenetrable wall of uncaring that we, as a people, seem to have barricaded ourselves into.
What does one say, to whom does one say these things. This is not something that has emerged overnight, it is years upon years of impunity, of preying on young girls that led to us becoming a nation that treats its girls and women like carrion, to be torn apart limb to limb, with no consideration of them being human. The girls and the women in this country seem to exist, it would seem, purely for the slaking of male lust.
At eight I was travelling from Goregaon to Bandra on BEST buses. It was the first bus I took in the morning. The first time someone sat next to me on an empty bus, I didn’t know what to expect. The elderly bus conductor came across and told the man to move to an empty seat. I had no idea then how evil the world was. In retrospect, I am grateful to the bus conductor whose face I can’t recall today. Where there is evil, there is also good, I always believed. I was wrong. There was no good for the hapless child in Kathua not even in the place of worship she was confined in for days, sedated, raped, brutalised, kept unfed under a heap of cloth. Like a thing. Not a person, not a human. A thing.
I read about sex robots and how some people prefer them to real human partners. The sex robots I’ve seen in all the reports are female. I don’t know if male sex robots exist and if they do, are they as popular as the female ones. The female body, whether that of a grown woman or that of a delicate eight year old prepubescent, is domain to be claimed, by the right of the allotment of chromosomes. To the men who commit these crimes, it matters not that there is a person within the body, the body exists and as such it has only one function, to sate their lust.
One of the perpetrators was called back from Meerut to participate in the rape. One, a police constable, asked them to wait a bit before killing her so he could rape her one last time. These are grown men. Over twice her size. One is only grateful for the tiny mercy that she was sedated while they went through their heinousness. Perhaps, one hopes, she didn’t feel the pain. Perhaps she was already at peace, her soul elsewhere, while they mauled her body.
Again in the newspapers today is the report of another body found in Surat. A nine year old. 86 injuries on her body. Raped. Another girl condemned to be yet another statistic in the war against our girl children, a war being perpetrated by the men of the country who don’t see in these children anything but their mischance of getting the XX chromosome in the lottery of conception.
Years ago, few friends and I began the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month across social media. We ran it for four years. Nothing has changed. Things have gotten worse. I despair at what every girl child we bring into this country faces, the threat of being raped and murdered, a demon that will stalk her every step from the time she is an infant. An eight month old was raped in January 2018 in Delhi. Let that sink in. An eight month old.
When does this end? How can one stop this epidemic? Because this is what it is, an epidemic. Is there any will to curb it, from the authorities? Are we as a society not complicit in encouraging this when we look the other way when a girl is getting harassed on the bus, when girls walking down the street are being catcalled, when movies show harassment as the norm to wooing, that the male privilege is all that matters in a relationship between the sexes, whether consensual or not. Aren’t we complicit in the crimes committed against these innocent girls, when we let these incidents pass unpunished because they’re minor incidents. We are to be damned, we the people. We have let it come to pass to this, this level where not one girl in this entire country is safe, where we wake every single day to horrors in our newspapers, some making it to the headlines, some getting tucked away in the city briefs column. Can we look at ourselves in the mirror? We have all failed our little girls. We will keep failing them.