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Thursday, January 8, 2009

I always hear a scream when I see the word 'rape'

Some ugly words in the English language …..
snot, gruesome, accursed, abandon, slime, decaying, deceit, carnage, bloodsucking,
maim, backstab…
and one of the ugliest is rape. I always hear a scream when I see this word. Read about the MBA student and I couldn’t sleep again at night. It took merely an evening to destroy the hopes of a girl, to throttle young promise and laughter and joy! There is now a girl who will jump at shadows all her life. And nothing can even the score for her. Ever.

For the men who think of it as a crime, ranking below murder, I offer a visual image….most girls will drink a bowlful of snot, decayed eggs, liquid roadkill if they had to make a choice between this and being raped. We would choose to be killed than be gangraped….I would kill to protect a girl from such a fate, if I could, without blinking! It is something we are warned about from the time we are baby girls, when ‘the enticing stranger’ is someone who can eat us maybe. And when we are old enough, we realize that we can be harmed in such a manner that our soul can be maimed. It is an act which is worse than murder….a raped woman has been damaged beyond repair and she still has to carry on living.

Since most people cannot understand the psyche of a victim and feel the death penalty is too stringent, why don’t we let the victim decide the magnitude of the punishment meted out. If a victim feels that it is no big deal, she can settle for a financial settlement or let the accused off with ‘a stern warning’…she can have his arm or leg or some other appendage cut off…let us give the victim a chance to get even. Let us see what is asked for in exchange…I can promise you it will be an eye-opener for us all!

I am thunderstruck that here justice is pure hogwash…the victim is punished over and over while the perpetrator is let off! Remember Santosh Kumar who entered Priyadarshini’s home to rape and kill her…and the judge let him go while stating that “I know you have committed the crime…” it was only the relentless efforts of a father who had nothing more to lose and an indignant public who finally saw that the man was put behind bars. Would the judge be this merciful had his daughter been the one to lose her life? Why do we bay for justice only when we or ours are harmed? How can a rapist have anything to say in his defence? Do you remember Aruna Shanbaug, the 19 year old nurse, raped by a sweeper in the very hospital where she worked? Choked by a dog chain? Still in hospital after more than 3 decades, unable to talk, walk, braindead…while her rapist walks free and lives his life !

We are two sisters and my dad is 5 feet 7 inches…he’s always been slight in build. BUT he would transform when he felt his daughters threatened…I have NO doubt in my mind that my dad would have killed to protect me and my sister! And he would have no remorse…the essence of a father is protection. He would extend this protection to my friends who came over to our house as he was conditioned by then. Does one need to have a daughter to realize that rape is frightfully wrong? All have been born of women…does this universal truth hold no insight?

We need to change laws which deal with rape…and change them fast. When it is child victims, there should be no other punishment other than the death penalty. And when victims are women then they should be given the choice of an adequate ‘exchange’! Let us see what price a woman puts on her self respect! I think that in such cases, most rapists will be happy to be hung!
I remember one boiling summer afternoon in Delhi when I was a thin married girl of 25. Had to take my Doberman out as usual when I found a young girl, literally gibbering with fright. She was terrified of my dog, yet she was sticking to me. Her mama had left her near a bus stand to go finish her work and two men had tried to grab her while she was standing there. I was instantly afire…took her back to the stand where sure enough, two mangy men were hanging about. I sat down and made the girl sit next to me while Lady, my Dobe, stood in front of us both and I prayed for the men to come near! Three females united! I think I might have been growling too. Those days I needed my husband when I had to open a jam jar but that afternoon, for 15 minutes, I was Kali! I just remember heat….heat of that merciless May sun and an inner heat that had me inflamed. Those two took off after sometime…they recognized my unspoken wrath that had me vibrating visibly! And I was disappointed for I wanted some bloodletting that day…the girl was an eight year old! I felt no pride then or now…I had just wanted a reckoning…and I knew that I would not have backed down! Not that day!

Life gives no second chances

Is “understanding”an abusive word? I think it is when some of us urge the others to “understand” a terrorist’s point of view! Many of us feel that Kasab was brainwashed and that he actually is a victim as he is dirt poor. Okay, my brother was a toddler aged 2 and a half when he put his hand inside the mouth of a stray dog to rescue a half eaten squirrel. What made my brother feel this kind of compassion for an animal when so young and what made Kasab kill an unarmed unaware populace peacefully going about its business? Kasab supposedly studied till the forth standard…..my brother had not touched a book by then!

By the same lunatic reasoning, should we ‘understand’ vermin who rape babies? And ‘understand’ adult humans who beat strays to death, who poke out the eyes of puppies and leave them staggering around in unspeakable agony? Or should we ‘understand’ those who throw acid on young girls and make the rest of their lives a living hell? Maybe we should ‘understand’ Santosh Kumar who stalked a college going Priyadarshini Mattoo for two years and then entered her house where she was living under police protection, assaulting her so severely that he sustained fractures in his hands before finally strangling her! Would we be so ready to ‘understand’ if we were at the receiving end of such brutality? Should we get inside the mind of Manu Sharma who took a life over a simple refusal of a drink as the bar was closed? “Understand” him too? “Understand” human trafficking and pedeophilia! Child porn! Why not ‘understand’ the Austrian who fathered 7 children from his daughter he confined in a basement for over two decades? ‘Understand’ those who sprinkle petrol over a bear, panther, elephant which has strayed from its habitat and come into a village or a town, and then set it alight? So many things to ‘understand’ and so short a life!!

Or should we understand that these people concerned are not human….they cannot be reached by compassion or love and need to come back to earth again in a new and improved form! And to forgive them is an unforgivable act of weakness. They have proved beyond a doubt, that they are maneaters…predators. Do we leave them unleashed in a civilized society? Do you really think you can leave them in a world where your sons and daughters live?

There are some acts which are simply not acceptable. They make one’s gorge rise. To let them pass and go unpunished severely is a crime in itself! If we can find excuses for such behaviour and seek to understand it, we violate the concepts of fairness and justice.

We all have one life…we all are responsible for what we make of it. Life gives no second chances…a life gone is gone for all eternity. And one who kills with so much of malice and so little compassion had served his time here.