QUEEN'S ROAD: It is almost two years since the Nirbhaya tragedy. Though committed in the heart of Delhi, the crime violated every woman in India because it made her feel more vulnerable than ever. It revealed to her the random perversity of sexual crimes. And how they can strike anyone, anywhere. The subsequent years have revealed that the candlelight vigils, the street marches and the outrage yielded no change. The rapes continue. With the same impunity. Across metropolitan cities like Delhi where now even taxis won’t be looked at as a safe transport option for women. In schools across Bengaluru where little girls have been targeted again and again. In places like Badaun, where caste fault lines translate into heedless gender violence.
We speak to filmmaker Insia Dariwala Pandey who has recently made a film about rape and has initiated workshops in Mumbai schools to sensitise children and educators to Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). Excerpts:
Be it Bengaluru or Mumbai, women face the same challenges and fears everyday. The other day, It was 10.30 p.m. Fresh off the Mumbai Local, I felt like a boxer ready to spar with my elbows up, avoiding brazen men from groping and bumping into me - a routine mastered over the years as a female in India. However, round one came quicker than imagined- a man was trailing me on his bike. Gathering all my courage, I delivered a loud verbal punch, enough to send him scurrying.
Post that knock-out though, the ride home was all about adjusting my clothes and trying hard not to fall asleep; all of this, against the the backdrop of a horrific scene playing out in my head - the ‘Uber rape case’. Unfortunately, I knew far too well that the memory of her rape would soon be replaced with some more horrific ones - the rape of a seven-year-old girl in Mumbai by 12 and 14-year-old boys.
Why do only certain rape cases make news? Why is it that only rapes in the capital warrant a knee-jerk reaction? Why no one wasted wax or shouted hoarse when an 18-year-old girl was brutally gang-raped in Meghalaya by 16 ‘boys’, three days before the Nirbhaya tragedy? Why is it that the rapes of two and three year olds miss making headlines? Why is it that we are only focused on ‘when’ the rapes are going to stop, but not on the ‘how’?
In my recent film, Cock-Tale, the goal was to explore the world of a rapist and not to provide titillation through the sexual act of rape, as shown in Indian films. The message from the Nirbhaya and Meghalaya incidents was loud and clear about the fact that rape is never about sex. A rapist is largely driven by rage, a need to dominate. It is a series of psychological needs and fantasies housed for years within them. Taking this thought forward, I have purposefully focused on society’s contribution to the conception of a rapist. The film’s character is a ‘gentleman’ rapist. He is someone with no innate desire to hurt the victim, but will go to great lengths to prove his masculinity, if challenged by the world around him. The film has since won awards and nominations but my quest to understand rape surely didn’t end there. A lot of studies later, I devised a programme on child abuse; the motto being ‘Recognise, Prevent and Protect’. The idea is to now teach this in schools all over the country so that children, parents, teachers and staff know how to recognise and prevent child abuse, molestations and rapes. The only way forward, is through awareness.
Crime is not just about statistics
Today, India is looking at statistics of 53 per cent sexually abused children, while most cases go unreported. Research suggests that most sexually abused males grow up wanting to do the same to others. Therefore, the need of the hour is a call for prevention rather than protection. It is time to adjust our attitudes, not our clothes. It is time for the society to seek, not shun. Lastly, it is time to eliminate the genesis of the crime, not the criminal.