Barely a week ago, two women in their twenties were raped in Gurgaon within 48 hours- one of them used to work as a domestic help and the other one as a facilitator who would escort men into couples-only clubs for money. Sadly but surely, their reputation precedes them and their tragedy. Many comments were made regarding their job, their dress and, of course, their character!
This first incident occured outside a place which is barely one kilometer from where I have stayed for three months- the woman was abducted from outside Sahara mall. Initially, I felt relieved that it wasn't me, that I wasn't out at three o' clock at night, that I didn't indulge in "risky" behavior. But I have been out till midnight, if not till three. Do three hours make such a big difference? What exactly is it that makes a woman vulnerable? What is it that makes a woman vulnerable at three and not at twelve? Is there really such a thing as vulnerability?
I noticed a few inconsistencies in the whole "vulnerability" argument:
1. Well, to put the record straight, crime data clearly indicate that, in an overwhelming majority of cases (above 90%), the perpetrators were known to the victims; in 50% of these cases they were neighbours! In lesser (10%) cases these were close family members or parents. This trend is reflected in any crime data report.
2. Many women, especially younger women and teenagers, have been raped within the four walls of their home. So, does staying at home comprise "risky" behavior? (No, the question is not rhetorical, we really need an answer).
3. Many children, including boys are raped (the euphemism generally used here is "sexually exploited"). Are moralists saying that they were wearing clothes that would provoke the rapists? Highly improbable!
4. In any given conflict- be it a riot or an occupation, rape has been used as a systematic tool of oppression and "punishment"- a collective punishment inflicted upon an entire family/community/society. These include small girls, pregnant women and old women whom one wouldn't normally describe as overly attractive or provocatively dressed- unless they really are! Most of these women are raped inside their homes. Are they vulnerable? Probably, yes. Do they contribute to their vulnerability? No!
Notice how all the verbal abuses are aimed at degrading women: sister-lover, for example? This clearly reflects our Universal notions of "punishing" (verbally or otherwise, wrongdoers).
5.What about people who indulge in beastiality? Do their animals wear skimpy clothes? No further discussion on this.
Actually, the fault lies with our perception of women as a commodity, as something that can be bestowed upon men and something that can be snatched away from them. Our collective bigotry is reflected in that we never invoke the vulnerability argument when the rich are robbed of their money, when someone is murdered, when terrorists kill innocent people or when people fall sick. We talk about vulnerability and risky behavior only when a woman is raped.
I finally got my answer to the question: What makes a woman vulnerable? Well, the very fact of being female in characteristsic makes anything vulnerable- from children to old women to certain animals.
Moving on the virtual world, I have been threatened with "rape" on Twitter by Modi-loving-trolls for my views. Not murder, not abduction, not arrests, but rape! Many "men" feel that it is their right to rape and that it is an effective way to punish women.
The anti-rape laws are laughable. Rape as a practice flourishes only because the perpetrators feel that they can get away with it- quite often, they do. It is time that we demand of our respective local legislators that they introduce and vote for much stronger anti-rape laws. It is time to remind them that they are sons of a mother too. Are we mature enough to speak up for our mothers, daughters, sisters and wives whom we claim to love so much?