Atleast this one case managed to make it to the national newspapers. “College Girl Gang-Raped by Six of her Teachers”. As for me, I just casually glanced at it, giving it a moment of my attention to reflect on its brutality before flipping the page. Soon, I found out that I was reprimanding myself for my own callousness. Shameful as it is to admit, having been reading such reports for so long now, it is very easy to hide under the cloak of indifference. The fact which makes it worse is, that I am not the only one to do so. The truth is that apathy has penetrated so deeply into our psyche that even the most heinous of crimes against women fail to move us! At most, they will arouse a wave of sympathy, or even anger, and then fade away from our minds.
In this particular case, the victim is a student of PTC College Patan, Gujarat. She was gang-raped repeatedly by six of her teachers in an empty classroom. Her perpetrators, in an act of supreme cruelty, held draws to decide the order in which they would have a go at her; this was done in front of the girl! She was not the only victim. After she collapsed in the morning assembly, getting hysterical if anyone approached her, other girls came forward to report similar experiences. They had only held back because they were threatened with dire consequences and ruined careers. The men, predictably, have been suspended and have been replaced by women teachers. The revelation that the Principal of the college himself had been accused of sexual molestation previously, is pregnant with meaning.
A woman, having been violated so brutally, will find it very hard to come out of the complete despair which engulfs her and which threatens to slowly suffocate her. This mental torture will be aided by a society which tends to ostracise rather than support the poor victim. However, rape by itself is not the only factor for the breakdown of the victim. If the victim musters the courage to report the crime, she has to face threats from the guilty and, also, sheer indifference from the police for registration of FIRs. The police, in turn, are notorious for their shabby investigations and overall inefficiencies, leading to many failures in terms of rate of convictions. In such a scenario, it is not the law but the process that fails. Furthermore, The Evidence Act allows the victim to be questioned of her past sexual history, a tool often used by the defense to humiliate the victim publicly, and in front of the accused.
Shockingly, even the law seems to be encouraging these fiendish predators. The legal definition of rape leaves a lot to be desired. It does not address the issue of forced penetration of objects and parts of the body or forced oral or anal intercourse. Thus, this definition falls woefully short of being a deterrent.
However, to probe only the judicial system and blame it for not delivering would only serve to severely handicap this analysis. The root of this evil lies in our society. The social fabric of this nation is such that it sees a woman as an object and not as a human being. For millions, their daughters are “paraya dhan”, a burden if you will, which have be gotten rid of by marrying them off. Conversely, for others a woman is seen as a perfect opportunity to increase their wealth through the dowry system. Others chose to not even let such a situation come, preferring to get rid of them in the womb itself. Some prefer to send their sons to school rather than their daughters. In such a scenario, when even the most basic of respect can be, and is, regularly denied to women, it is not difficult to envision why certain depraved men would target them. In this society, where a man has the final say, women have been moulded from birth onwards to be submissive!
The picture presented here might seem excessively grim, and may seem irrelevant for the current times. But this is due to the media who shows only the victories of rape victims. However, it must also be noted that these case are only few and far between, which were achieved after lengthy judicial cases.
When will this all end?
[image by Dr.S.Ali Wasif]