The quality of mercy…


“It was never going to be an ordinary day. Ordinary days do not exist in the lives of those living in conflict zones marred by war and if you are a woman belonging to a certain ethnic group then life’s ordinariness lies in it’s not being ordinary. “

She suddenly leaped out of the chair and began to pace.

“We can do it some other day if you wish”, I said.

She waved her hand, poured herself some water and settled again. That is when I noticed the two missing fingers on her right hand.  A chill went up my spine as I imagined the kind of atrocities she must have faced.

A lifetime of internal dialogue and struggle was clearly visible on her face. Her deep-set eyes were pools of pain and suffering that she had endured all her life and especially in the last few months. I had thought her to be middle-aged on their first meeting. She certainly didn’t look in her mid thirties.

I was filled with a certain respect for this woman who had transcendent her fear to bare her soul despite the trauma it would cause her to open the wounds which were finally beginning to heal.

“The separatist struggle had taken a toll on all of us. I was just one of the many women who were maimed, raped, killed, tortured or dumped in jails to face the atrocities by the authorities there. We lived in perpetual fear all the time yet convincing ourselves that these things will never happen to any of us. That we will survive but today out of the five people who were rounded up that day only I am left to tell the story.

“Have you ever seen a body of someone you love split in half and the heart exposed to splatters of blood, smoke, gunfire, bomb and grenade blasts?  Seen your best friend brutally molested, beaten and left naked on the streets to die? Seen the fear, hurt, humiliation and pain in the eyes of a five-year old boy watching her mother in that state?

I have. I saw it all that day as I stood rooted to the ground on that chilly winter morning.  Rape in a war is not merely a matter of chance; it is rather a question of power and control. My friend suffered because she belonged to a certain ethnic group. Her rape humiliated the entire community. It was masterminded to totally encapsulate the defeat of men of that community in protecting their women, to humiliate, degrade and terrify them. It is good she died or else she would have been rendered invisible by her own people, left to fend for herself, suffering from one mental disease or the other like so many other women there. Each woman there suffers from anxiety and unrest. Just that, the degree of suffering varies.”

Caught in a maelström of emotions she closed her eyes. I could see her hands trembling as they clutched the bars of the rocking chair on which she was half-reclining.

“I watched in horror knowing it was my turn once they were done with others. Everything fails when you are faced with terror. All my education, training in sports, presence of mind evaporated in thin air.  I felt as if I was carved in stone but something kept telling me to fight till the end, to take that chance. I didn’t want to die like an animal if I could prevent it.”

The evening sun was peeping through the huge trees and the cool breeze made the curtains shadow dance on the floor. She watched them intently for some time.

I decided to record the rest of the conversation on tape and took my seat on a sofa in front of her. She looked up and I felt a slight smile at the corner of her mouth but the gash on her cheek made it impossible to judge that correctly.

As if she read my thoughts and ran her fingers over it.

“The scars inside are deeper than the ones on my body. The wounds are still in process of healing. I put up a fight when they tried to get their filthy hands on me. When a man turns into an animal there is no limit to what he will do. May they be forgiven for what they have perpetrated, she mumbled softly.

“They were four of them. Severely beaten, I drifted between life and death but could make out that I was tossed into a vehicle and taken away. I remember a voice hissing in my ears. “We like to play with our pray before the kill the thrilling the chase and hunt, the better it is. The sound of their laughter still echoes through my mind.”

She winced and began to rock the chair. I looked around for help, suddenly scared for her. She had been in medical supervision since past few months and wasn’t stable enough to cope with the world outside. The doctor observing from the corner of the room nodded at me to relax. The attendant brought a tray with coffee and biscuits. I poured a cup for her. “Lots of milk and sugar” She said without opening her eyes.

“I like it that way. It helps me cull the deep black darkness inside me.”

Then she opened her quiet eyes and looked at me. “They should have sent someone seasoned. You are still too raw to brave such experiences”.

I fumbled with some words in support of myself but failed. She kept looking at me.

“We seem to be of same age though I am sure you thought me to be twice yours”, this time she did smile and I realized how beautiful she was, radiant even in her fragile state.

I mustered a smile and offered her some cookies. She carefully selected one with sprinkled sugar and began to nibble it.

“I have lost the count of how many times and by how many people I was raped and beaten. They broke my fingers and gave me wounds with a dagger one of them had, kicked and shoved the butt of the riffle in my abdomen. For hours I lay naked, body, mind and soul in that small room while they drank. My body was just a sack of pain and bruises but still I kept thinking of a plan to escape. It is strange that they did not kill me or broke my legs or hit me on the head. I never lost consciousness once though pain made me delirious. It was unimaginable to think I could escape alive from them.

The chill of the night made my body stiff like a log. I did not feel parched or hungry even after twenty hours of starvation. In fact I did not feel anything.

Sleep took over as I stared blankly into nothingness that filled the dark room.

When I opened my eyes I was in a hospital in the city. They said I had slept for more than two days. My wounds were stitched and dressed but my body still felt like a log and even the slightest movement shot a streak of pain through it.

I tried to find out how I managed to get out alive from the clutches of those beasts but got no replies. I guess it is better this way, maybe for someone who must have dared to save me, for I had no strength left to carry on. I do say a silent prayer for that person for giving me another chance to live.”

My heart warmed at the words. . On the way back from the village where I was sent to investigate the killings, miles away where the woods began, I had found her huddled like a bundle among the trees. I had stopped my jeep and along with a friend managed to rescue her to the city hospital and then to this private one, away from the turbulent environment.

Of course, no one told her anything. They weren’t supposed to.

I realized that she had dozed off in the meanwhile. The half eaten cookie rested nestled in the fold of her gown. I walked over and placed it in the plate. The doctor told me to withdraw.

She needed rest and most of all peace.

What happened in the last few hours and how she managed to reach the road remains a mystery but it would certainly have taken immense courage to escape alive. All her people were dead. Village burned to ashes. Curfew imposed in the area.

All that remained was the mist that slowly enveloped the small mountain village like a shroud.

Silently I closed the door and look a last look at her through the glass window. She was a survivor, a brave one and she had a beautiful smile of a child.

The curtains of the large window swayed to the night breeze while the crescent moon kept a watch on her as sleep caressed and healed her ravaged being.

In the still moonlit night I too said a silent prayer for the woman who braved it to live a life she held too precious to give up even in such dire circumstance.

There was a new life waiting to blossom buried under the heavy layers of snow. Soon the spring would come.

Hundreds of women like her go through similar or more horrifying experiences each day and succumb to the fate, unnoticed, uncared between the conflicts of power and rule. Human life is ravaged and torn to shreds at the altar of political tug of war and dies in oblivion. The universe watches quiescent.

It wasn’t an ordinary day for me and  henceforth no other day would ever be ordinary.

This post is part of the contest It was never going to be an ordinary day.. on WriteUpCafe.com

Custodial Rape : Where could this girl have disappeared?


http://www.vakilno1.com/bareacts/indianpenalcode/s376.htm Section 376- Indian Penal Code. Punishment for Rape. 

 

Who Gets Raped http://www.dancewithshadows.com/rapes_india.asp

 

 

I am sharing a post by Indian Homemaker titled Where could this girl have disappeared  Please read  and copy the matter for signature campaign petition to President Pratibha Patil  from Jeanne’s comment on the post. Forward to all in support of this teenage rape victim. 

 

Where does a rape victim go for justice when her “custodians” turn into ” violators” ? This isn’t the first case where a rape victim( a teenager in this case)  is raped again in police custody. Expect a police officer to humiliate a rape victim, be foul-mouthed, discourage or blame her and even rape her.

A farmer’s teenage daughter gangraped  in Mahoba, UP, has disappeared after she was raped by the Station House Officer Deepak Pandey in the police station, Times of India reported ( LINK )

When the senior officers of district polic did not offer any help the family then approached a lawyer and sent complaints to the Chief Minister, Director General of Police and the National Commission for Women.While chief minister Mayawati and the DGP didn’t act, the  NCW directed the district police to get the complaint probed.Additional SP, Mahoba, R K Pandey probed the case.

On Friday,the victim was summoned by the police and sent for a test. As the victim was slated to appear before a magistrate the next day, she was directed to stay back at the Mahila Thana.On Saturday,the family came to know that she had disappeared from the police station.

So where has she disappeared ? I wonder if at all she is alive. 

Cases of custodial violence against women are horrifying reality of  this democratic country governed by “rule of law” . It is very intimidating when one reads of increasing number of such reports. Be it eve teasing or dowry harassment or rape women are too scared and hesitant to even lodge a complaint or to approach “men in khakhi”.

Here is another  { LINK } to a report where an under trial is gang raped in police station.

and yet another “attempt to rape ” and murder of a minor girl ( LINK  )

I believe that the reason we hear about so many of such acts of violation of human rights is because the police feel that wont be held accountable and punished even if the truth is revealed. So they torture (mental, physical, emotional) , rape, kill at their will. It is just the power of strong over the weak and suffering. Flouting the basic right of a citizen and violation of human dignity. No women is safe in any village, city or state in India.

I cringe at the very thought of the mental agony of being violated inside the four walls of a police station under the shield of uniform and authority.

Here is a LINK to what Kavita Krishnan has to say.

Crime against women are on an increase and according to reports one woman is raped in every 18 hours in Delhi. The perverts who commit such crimes like rape many a time get away due to their ” connections” .Delayed justice , harassment by police, social shame and lack of support system are the reasons most cases go unreported and here we are not talking about marital rape which is still not considered a crime in our country. Rape cases are under reported throughout India and in only 6 percent of cases of rape and molestation strangers are involved, in the rest the accused is known to the victims.

People in power have always used it as a tool to sexually molest women. Abduction, assault, rape, murder is commonly done using power as a tool and if these people who are supposed to be provided help turn monsters then women in India  have a very bleak future as far as safety and dignified living is concerned .

 Bhawari Devi had been fighting for justice since 1994, she was gang raped by five men in front of her husband on  22 September 1992 for stopping a child marriage. A FIR was lodged and it was only after two years that a case was registered.  (  LINK TO THE CASE ) . Bhawari Devi was missing for last three weeks. Now it seems she was murdered. A complaint for rape and murder was filed against the accused minister of water resources Mahipal Maderena on 20th September 2011. 

She was the torch-bearer for women’s movement in our country and dared to raise her voice against the sexual assaults on women.  Though everyone remembers the name, few know that even 14 years after she was gang raped by upper-caste villagers for attempting to stop a child marriage in her village, Bhateri, about 45 km from Jaipur, this “icon” still hasn’t got justice and now possibly murdered. She was pioneering an ANTI RAPE Movement which helped so many other women but unfortunately not her. The political blame game has begun. ( LINK ) I hope She is alive and justice is delivered. ( LINK )

Reminds me of Aruna Shaunbag , Maimun and the Shanti Mukund case ( LINK )  These woman never got justice .

I hope justice is not delayed for this Dalit girl and culprits punished. Expecting police to be sensitive seems too far-fetched a thought.

The bottom line of rape is…a sense of entitlement, power and oppression, among other things and it needs to End.

Related Link https://tikulicious.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/rape-blame-the-rapist-not-the-victim/

Rape : Blame the Rapist not the Victim


Center for Development of Women’s Studies (CDWS)  disturbing statistics  say 42 women are raped every day in India, one every 35 minutes.

Only one in about 70 cases of rape gets reported. This means that about 69 women get raped before one lodges an official complaint. Of the reported cases (only one out of 70), only 20 per cent are convicted. Consequently, only three out of 1,000 rapists ever get convicted. So most rapists can get away with rape.

From 9 to 90 every woman is unsafe here.

Age, status, caste ,creed, looks NO BAR, a woman is raped for just one reason : Being a woman. Nothing else.

When my maid came up with the news that a 90+ woman who had gone to a nearby “jungle” close to where she stays for morning job , she was raped by four men. The men ran away leaving the traumatized victim in a state of shock. The incident which happened very close to the local police station was pushed under the carpet. No complaint was launched. Case closed.

The maid , who was still under shock kept wondering  WHY an old woman for God’s sake ? and then came the reply from with . Because she was a woman.

She said in hushed voice, ” it does not matter if you are old or young , beautiful or ugly, rich or poor, what matters is you are a woman. what they(men) need is a hole and two boobs.”

I was more shocked than her. Shocked at the truth she was speaking. The words burned into my soul like embers.

That was the truth, complete and honest.

This is the reality which glares at us from every part of the country be it villages, cities anywhere.

Little girls , young women, old women no one is safe in this country.

In most of the cases the rapists are known people.

A father, a brother, an uncle , a friend. Who are we supposed to trust?

Rape doe not happen like they show in films, it comes from unexpected sources, hits hard and stuns the victim.

I remember Gulzar Saheb’s poem Rape’s few lines here :

” sirf aurat thi wo, kamzor thi wo,

char mardon ne, ki wo mard the bas

pasedeewar use rape kiya

translation

Just a woman, weak, vulnarable

four men, only because they were men

pinned her against the wall and raped her.

Unfortunately  most of the times women are blamed for the rape and sexual abuse cases. I have heard even other woman saying ,” aaise ban than ke nikalegi to mardon ki nazar to kharab hogi hi ” ( if she goes out all decked up like this men will get tempted)

“kapde to dekho iske , phir hum aadmiyon ko dosh dete hain ( look at her clothes and then we blame men”)

“aaj kal auraten hi zyada khul khel karti hain , niyota denge to rape to honge hee( these days women have become so outgoing, if they invite, rape will happen”)

I ask those  who blame the woman for “indecent behavior” such as wearing skimpy clothes, going out late at night ot ” inviting” men, are women in burkhas and salwar-kameez not eve-teased, raped or molested?

Don’t rape cases occurs in broad daylight.

What about the little girls who are raped by their own family members, relatives or friends?Child sexual abuse and incest is growing in large proportions. Here is a poem I wrote about it  The Lost Childhood

Do they even know what’s happening to them leave aside” inviting”. what about the old woman who could never dream that she too can fall prey to these lecherous men?

What about women who are raped in police custody by the very people who are supposed to protect her?

What about  Aruna Shanbaug who was attacked with a dog chain and brutally raped in the very hospital where she was a nurse, and abandoned by her family thereafter.The rapist was convicted for seven years in jail, and is believed to have started a new life in another hospital in New Delhi.  She lies in a state of coma in a room of the same hospital for the last 37 years. What was her fault ?

How did a nine year old ” provoke ” a man to rape her in Goa ? Link

Why there is always a “moral code of conduct” for women? Why women are blamed for a crime where they are the victims?Why can’t they live the way they want to without the fear of sexual abuse, molestation, rape hanging over them?

Why the rapists do not get punished severely, Why the cases are not registered and those which are , never get justice?

Why there is this widespread misconception that women are sexually available and that some men simply cannot help themselves?

What about rape within marriage ? Who is responsible for this intimate betrayal? A crime which is  not even considered a crime?

I wrote a post on this sometime back  marital rape

A few days back I got a twitpic from a friend originally posted on Jagori.org

Came across this Jagori.org poster (Credits: London Rape Crisis Centre) entitled “बलात्कार से बचाव के लिए मार्गदर्शन” translates to “Guidelines for prevention from Rape” #women

This fried wanted me to do the translation for this. This what he posted LINK

This what I translated

Do not step out in the darkness
it is an invitation to men
do not step out alone anytime
in any case it is an invitation to men
do not stay inside the home
for both relatives and guest can rape
do not stay without clothes
it evokes (boosts)desire in men
do not wear clothes
because these types of clothes
it is an invitation to men
beware of childhood
coz some rapists prefer little girls
beware of old age
some rapists prefer old women
do not have father, uncle, grand father, brother-in-law and brothers
these are the relatives who usually rape the young women of the house
do not have neighbors
they usually rape
do not get married
rape within marriage is permissible
but , if you need full protection
do not live.

The poster tells a story by itself. I wonder how many men will feel ashamed reading this!

we also found an original translation

For how long women will live in fear, suffering at the hands of men is something to think about.

In a country rooted in age-old beliefs, conventions and rules set by men for their benefits and convenience, a woman has little say. She is either a ” virgin wife” or a “slut” there is no in betweens. Any woman who stands up to raise her voice against the unjust society, who breaks free of the “usual social norms” is crushed brutally.

Rape victims live a life of humiliation, are denyed justice most of the time. They are conditioned to believe that they are the cause of their misery and the best thing to do is remain silent.Who wants to be humiliated twice in a society where law makers to law breakers all men speak one language: A woman who “asks for it” ” gets it”.

Is a woman safe from the time she is born till the time she dies? At every step she faces challenges which threaten her very existence.  All her life a woman’s conduct is put under scanner. Her every word is daubted. She has to prove her innocence, her purity at all levels.  Lines are drawn for them but never for the men. She is not “allowed” to step out of the ” laxman rekha” ( her line of conduct) and has to give ” agni pareeksha” (proof) for the things she is not responsible.

WHY?

Why

why the blame is always shifted to women? Even when she is raped, assaulted, burnt, termed a witch it is her fault. Men are never wrong. How inhumanly unfair is that?

I remember reading in ‘A thousand splendid suns’, “A man’s pointing finger will always find a women to blame” .

The moment a rape occurs people raise fingers at the ” loose character” of the girl/woman. If some men get “provoked” enough to rape by mere sight of a woman and can not control themselves  and are compelled to commit the crime then the only sentence should be castration.

Came across this blog which is a must read Rape Culture

Isn’t it time we stopped these double standards in the code of conduct for women and men? It is unfortunate that women from one generation to the other pass on the legacy of these utterly rubbish ideas of a woman being responsible for any sexual advancement towards her. It is time to set an example by making strict laws and enforcing them with even more strictness. It is time to give complete support, counselling, justice  to rape victims and not judge them and humiliate them further.

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Poem: A Childhood Lost


She sat huddled in a corner
staring at the pool of blood
between her aching skinny legs.

Her large eyes vacant and dry
her trembling body tattered and torn
and her soul, bruised and ridden to dust.

Her childhood innocence crushed
by someone’s scavenging lust
someone she was taught to trust.

He ripped her veil

and shamed her forever

violating her with a single thrust.

Alone, in the shadows of her
shattered dreams
She tried in vain to wipe forever
the events of the night
her chilling screams.

Her heart, pregnant with
Emotions unknown,
unheard, unseen

Slowly she closed her swollen eyes
and shut herself to the
rising shame and fear

Too scared to speak
too hurt to cry
as the mist began to clear

They found her body in the morn
along with her clothes
bloodstained and torn.

And beside her tender fragile frame
was written in her blood in shame
a single word that said it all

“Daddy”

copyright Tikuli

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Read my article on child abuse prevention

Child Abuse Prevention Month Post( April)- A Daughter’s Letter to Her Parents