'Lucky no one threw acid on me'
Pankaj Ramendu is an independent commentator and here, he writes about the fine line between crimes against women shown in movies and those that happen in real life.
Irreversible is a movie which begins from the end and finishes at the beginning. The movie begins with a man being beaten to death. The scene is heart-wrenching. The movie itself progresses gradually to reveal why the man was murdered. The murderer's intoxicated wife was raped by a man in the subway. He then slams her head repeatedly till she dies. No other movie has perhaps depicted rape in its most brutal manner the way this movie has. As you watch the rape scenes, you begin despising the man who was murdered at the beginning of the movie. Also, there is a certain sense of sympathy which comes for the man who turned killer to avenge his raped and murdered wife.
In another recently released movie called 'Mom', when a rape survivor tells her mother that when she was being raped, the rapists were repeatedly saying - call your mother. These words from the daughter not just affects the mother but also disturbs the viewers. When the mother shoots dead the rapists at the end of the movie, viewers finally breathe a sense of relief.
Set in a rural India setting, the movie 'Pitah' is about sons of a zamindar forcing themselves upon a minor girl and leaving her for the dead. In one particular scene, when the doctor treating the girl if tempted to change his medical report, he says - So many stitches, so many injuries, so many fractures. Do you even know what pain this girl is going through? And you want to buy me with Rs 3 lakhs?.
After a deafening silence, the doctor says he won't take anything less than Rs 5 lakhs. When the father of the girl is eventually forced to resort to violence the viewers can actually empathise with his enraged emotions.
Here is a husband, a mother, a father. Here are tales of revenge. Last year, fiction turned to reality for a man after an incident in Punjab's Bathinda. Here, a man chopped off both hands of a man accused of raping his seven-month-old daughter. The incident took place in 2014. Since, the accused was out on bail and the matter was being heard. The father who cut off the hands of the accused was arrested. He admitted his crime but said he does not regret his action.
On the unfortunate day, Pamma - a worker in a bricks klin - had left his daughter at home and went for work. It is at that time that the accused - Parminder - is believed to have committed the heinous crime. While he was arrested immediately after, Parminder was granted bail three months later and was roaming free ever since.
Therefore, while we may justify Pamma's act, the real question is why was the father forced to resort to taking the brutal revenge?
These are just incidents which have either come to light or where revenge was taken. Wonder how many incidents like these happen daily in India. Wonder how many women choose to remain silent despite horrific crimes committed against them.
In one of her books, noted author Taslima Nasreen describes an incident in her book. 'At the time, I was about 18-19 years of age. A cinema hall in Mymensingh had just ended an afternoon show. Lines of rickshaws were standing outside. I climbed onto one rickshaw. Because of the crowd, the rickshaw stopped at a particular place. It is here that I felt a sharp pain on my right arm. I found that a boy of about 12 or 13 years of age was standing with his cigerrette jabbed against my arm. I did not know him and neither had I ever seen him before. I cried out in pain. And he he just laughed and walked away. I thought about screaming, about calling out to someone, or just give chase and catch up him and get people around. But girls have a sixth sense and maybe that is why I did not try to punish the boy that day. It is at that age that I realised that if I caught the boy or asked people around me for help, people would surround me, look at me, enjoy staring at my body from top to bottom, look at my pain, some may sympathise, others may forcefully want to know what happened. Some would say that the boy should be caught and be slapped across his face. Once I leave, my well-wishers would unleash celebratory whistles. Thinking about all of this, I kept the pain inside me, inside me. I still have the mark from the cigerrete on my right arm. What should I blame that boy for when well-educated are hardly innocent
If you read Taslima's words and feel her pain, you would know that our society lives on with the make-belief truth that 'women is our right.'
It is the same society which protests against the release of a movie called Padmavati because it shows its queen dancing, her waistline can be seen, her fantasies with a stranger has been shown.
Writer Ajeet Cour writes in her autobiographby titled Kura Kabara that she did not share secrets of her life because she wants sympathy. She writes that she chooses to share because she wanted to introduce a girl from a well-to-do middle-class family whose childhood was snatched from her. She writes about how, on the pretext of giving her chocolates, shopkeepers, where she grew up, used to put her on their laps. Recounting the incident, Cour says she was scolded and told not to go to the shopkeepers after something sticky was found her frock.
Recently, when actor-turned-politician Kirron Kher said that a certain rape victim should not have entered an auto when she saw three men already inside, she was widely criticised. And for most parts, her comments ought to have been criticised indeed. But there is another layer to what she said. For all the talks about women empowerment, women's independence, of laws protecting women's rights - are we still not a little scared when out daughters go out? Do we not tell them to not go to places where there are too many strangers? Why does she have to be careful at all times? Because while we want laws to improve and for women to be absolutely free and safe, we also know that these are ideals which are just like fantasies. And till these ideals are not firmly established, we will have to protect our daughters.
When the four accused of raping Nirbhaya were sentenced to death, the society celebrated as if India has gained independence once again. But have we really managed to create an example for the society at large? Have we really managed to understand the pain and difficulties of women?
Think about it.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)
(Note - This blog was originally written in Hindi)