Vantage point

Friday, May 20, 2005

We, The Sick People

Something that I saw on 'We The People' last weekend really jarred me. The topic was rapes, safety of women etc, and Barkha Dutt was prancing about conducting the debate. She then introduced us to a victim of rape who would share with us, her trauma.

The camera focussed on a woman, who was covering her face with a dupatta as she spoke.

That shocked me, jarred me, saddened me.

What sort of a sick society are we living in, where a rape victim has to cover her face? In fact that one gesture has stripped our society of the mask of empathy it wears.

Imagine, somebody picked your pocket while you were travelling in the train. Would you cover your face and hide your identity while talking about it? Would you cover your face if your house was robbed? Would you cover your face after being cheated or swindled? Would you cover your face if you survived an attempted murder?

I don't think so.

Then why does a rape victim have to cover her face? What does she have to be ashamed of? In my opinion, a rape victim has as much reason for shame, as somebody whose pocket has been picked. Both of them were victims of another person's misdeeds. It is the perpetrator who should cover his face with shame.

But throw your mind back to television reports. Thieves cover their faces, fraudsters cover their faces, smugglers cover their faces. But have you seen rapists cover their faces? Sunil More's mug is as familiar as Sunil Gavaskar.

I see this as another side of the "death-to-rapists" argument. Only a society which attaches unnecessary stigma to a rape victim, would think of advocating a death sentence for rapists.