Rape Victims Are Being Silenced. Will We Just Watch?

Often, I shut myself down when I hear of heinous crime against a woman. Like when Nirbhaya was raped. And now when his girl in Unnao has been raped and seeking justice. But her story is almost like the dirty, scary Bollywood movie you watched and hated: Girl is raped and in no particular coincidence, her family members are wiped out. Oh, I actually have a movie in mind: Damini. Sometimes, life can be stranger than fiction.

Last heard, Unnao girl’s father and two aunts were killed in road accidents, and the victim’s lawyer and the victim herself survived a fatal accident (and it’s anybody’s guess if it was a murder attempt to silence her) – both are badly injured. Police were quoted as saying that even though the victim has police protection, one of the constables deputed for her security were present at the time of the accident. I don’t want to say more because this should say enough. The accused happens to be someone in power, a BJP MLA.

I would rather discuss what this could do to rape victims across India. It’s no secret that reporting and protesting rape has been a difficult effort for women in India. Our rape laws have come a long way today but they once had deeply sexist provisions such as the “two-finger test”. One look at the history of rape judgements in the past would give a sense of how deeply patriarchy has entrenched itself even in ways justice has been delivered. It’s not surprising then that talking about rape too is like breaking open a wound that doesn’t heal. The approach towards dealing with rape survivors  (I reported on this for Mint ) may have changed, but our political and social system ensures that fighting for justice remains a battle fraught with dangers.

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