This morning, I passed by a Devi Temple while en route to a friend’s place. The morning rituals were in full swing, the bells were ringing, hymns were being chanted with utmost devotion by the devotees (men and women, ofcourse), each one of them prostrate, pious, devout. The thought that came to me on seeing this, the idol of the Goddess and the assembly of the devotees, was almost an impulse, “is it possible that there is a Rapist amongst the men in that ‘sacred’ environment?”, the answer I heard in my head was no less of an impulse, “of course it is a possibility!”
It is irony at its best when we think about how the Goddess is celebrated in our country and how the woman is treated in sharp contrast to this celebration in the very same country! At the very outset, I wish to let the readers know that I am not examining the social issue of rape from a religious point of view; my reason of comparison here is the inherent hypocrisy the “Indian ‘Rapist’ Male” is made up of. Again, it is not an ‘Indian’ problem, however I am specifically addressing the numerous rape cases that have taken place in the recent past in our country and hence the phrasing.
“Devi” or the Mother Goddess is the source of all creation, all happiness, she embodies divine power. In India, womanhood is worshipped, it is idolized. In India, there are 1,00,000 rape cases pending, shelved in the shelves of ‘justice’, shrouded with a shroud of dust. The recent gang rape of the 23 year old in Delhi has brought about a massive uprising, a national one at that. There are wide spread protests against it, candle light marches, peaceful rallies (which have evoked violent reactions from the government), the virtual world is facebooking, tweeting, and uploading photographs of “black dots” to express their “virtual” solidarity. Everybody is doing or at least trying to do their bit to bring justice to the victim(s). Somehow, I find myself thinking more about the Rapist than the victim. It intrigues me, the psychology of the Rapist. I find myself thinking, “Did he join his hands in prayer to the Mother Goddess today? Didn’t he unfasten a woman’s modesty with the same hands? Oh, he must have gone back to the altar the next day to ask Her for Divine Forgiveness!”
Who is a Rapist? Did he go to school? Is he educated? Does he have friends? Does he have a family? Does he eat the same food as we do? What does he think? How does he talk? Does he display the same sexual perversity towards his mother and his sister? Will he rape them? Will he rape the Goddess if the same idol before which he submits himself came alive one day? How will he rape her? Can the same hands which join to offer her reverence outrage her modesty, if he were alone with her in the temple? Well, wasn’t the woman he raped supposed to be an embodiment of the Divine Goddess?
Stepping out of the temple and into the society, let us get more realistic. Not all Rapists are necessarily believers in religion, if I were a Rapist, I for one wouldn’t be a believer. One can question this aspect, however, how does one question the concept of humanity? Whether or not he rapes the Goddess, he has most definitely succeeded in raping humanity, in stripping humanity of its dignity. It is a complete breakdown of the social machinery, a breakdown of law and order, a breakdown of the institution of justice. The Rapists are laughing at these protests, at the “apparent” helplessness of the government, and I say this with confidence because they haven’t stopped what they do best, they haven’t stopped raping. Only today the newspaper headlines in my home town told me of a gang rape which occurred last evening. Isn’t that a slap in the face of all the protests against rape? The audacity of these Rapists! So what will stop them?
Every woman in this “free” country is vulnerable. The most basic fundamental right in a democracy, the right to protect yourself, the claim over your own body is denied to us. What is the woman then? An object to be penetrated and violated sexually? A husband rapes his wife, an uncle rapes his niece, a father rapes his own daughter, and there have also been instances of brothers having raped their sisters! For God’s sake, a three year old girl child in a kindergarten has been raped only yesterday! It is not a “Delhi” problem; it is not region specific, caste specific or religion specific, it is a flaw of the humanitarian values! It is the flaw of the society, of the loud as well as the subtle hints which finds form in what the mother whispers into the ears of the daughter, through the patriarchy which prevails, through those moral science classes, those mundane and obsolete daily soaps which run on loop on the idiot box, through the “item numbers” and the “masala films”, the women kind are the “weaker sex”, the “fairer sex”, they “need” men, they need help, the need to control them, to subdue them, to make them submissive manifests itself in all these gruesome acts committed by men, if nothing else works, rape them!
The best justice that can be done is to turn in the offenders to the victims. Geoffrey Chaucer in the fifteenth century through his Canterbury tales, told the tale of the Wife of Bath, in it, King Arthur’s knight raped a fair, young maiden. According to the decree of King Arthur, the knight was condemned to death, however, the Queen intercedes and has the offender turned over to a council of women who decide his fate. The Knight got away with a fairy tale ending, of course the women succeeded in rehabilitating him, however the same cannot be said for the Race of Rapists we are fighting against, today. Nonetheless, justice in whatever form the victim wishes can be delivered. Rehabilitation is not even an option, because well, once a Rapist, always a Rapist. In my opinion, to hang till death is too lenient a punishment to be meted out to these brutes. They should be tortured, slowly, painfully in the most gruesome manner imaginable. They should feel the same pain, the anguish, the same helplessness of the women they have raped. And after the torture is over, they should be castrated and then, they should be allowed to live, till they wish to die and the comfort of death be denied tothem.
If a Rapist can rape his daughter, his sister, his mother, a Rapist rapes the very Goddess he may have offered his reverence to. And they deserve to live. But only to suffer. This is a prayer, Amen.
Contributed by: Shreeradha Mishra.