I never understood the thing until it happened to me. It was a concept – of savagery, of violence, of disrespect. Yes they raped me as well; my head, my heart and my soul.
This may be another article in the leading daily, but I have dipped my pen in the blood of the victim this time. As a mother I listen myself hammering my daughter the rules I have been taught by my mother, I remember the rules since I was 5, rules that were never spelled out but every woman knew: Don't open your door to a stranger. Don't stop on the road to help anyone. If anyone whistles, don't turn to look. Don't go anywhere, by yourself, at night. I am sure that little girl must have been edified by her kind of rules too. But what happened, she was not in revealing cloths, and not out late in night. She was a kid, a child of 8 years pasturing and grazing her cattle in the known neighborhood near a God's place, what if her God is different from theirs.
Nirbhaya happened to us as an unplanned rape and brutal murder which we thought can happen to any of us as an accident at any point of time but Kathua happened as a planned rape and cold blooded murder, and this raises so many questions on us being humans.
The Kathua victim hunts me every night. She didn't let me sleep. Every night I found her sitting besides my sleeping daughter. I'd still think that everything I contemplate about those seven days-the torment, the mortification, the horror-would dwindle in moment and aeon. But that hadn't happened. Instead, every little detail seemed to breed stronger, to the point where I could feel their load in my chest. I just want to sleep in coma or amnesia. Anything, just to get rid of whispers in my mind. I am being selfish for my sleep and peace of mind; I am being selfish for the security of my daughter, I am being selfish for my granddaughters to come.
Which justice can we ask for that little soul. She is in heaven, she doesn't need it anymore. No matter what we do, she won't come back. Ask for justice for your own daughters, for your generations. Don't Rest in Peace little child, haunt us, and hunt each one of us till we relearn to live on earth like humans.
Tell your women, rapists are not limited to the uncanny predator profile we were warned about since our childhood, they are more likely to be someone we know rather than a stranger in a dark alley, and it often takes place in 'safe' places, homes, and cars even Devisthan in case this case. More often than not, rapists look like the men we trust most. They look like nice boys. And they look like sophisticated black gowned 'respectables'.
Kunan Poshpora Nirbaya, Rafeeqa, Unnao Victims and now Kathua , we stood with them all, we lit candles, we shouted slogans, we were asking justice in protest marches and still, nothing changes; the latest statistics make grueling reading; in 5 years, after Nirbhaya incident there is 132% spike in the number of cases reported in Delhi, with a sustained 32% increase thereafter. Rape is prevailing in society like a culture, a tradition as if it is indispensable to carry it forward.
After Kathua case came in public, my heart sank to the depths of despondency when my daughter called and said,
"Don't worry Mamman, today I wore old grey faded Shalwar Kameez with Dupatta. I made a rough braid and I did not put on an ounce of makeup. Mamman, don't worry, I have made mindful decisions to look like less of what I felt a male would want to see".
But I know; no matter what she wears she is not safe, she won't take off her mother's worries. For so many days I hide my worries and remain mute like every other mother in the country but it is time to take rape out of the closet — and we must never allow it back into hiding. Rape is not a dirty secret; it's a violent act of crime. It is not the responsibility of women not to get raped. Time has come, when we have to teach our sons that all people deserve respect — from the most indiscernible within our society to the most respected.
It is time to sensitize our young children on such matters. It is time to enforce strong morals and value systems in school children. It is time to implement laws in letter and spirit. It is time for shaming the predators in public to let the society know the consequences; and It is time to reply an eight year old that you are not the next one even if your God is different than theirs.
Dr. Rabia Naseem Mughal is Research Officer, State Institute of Education, Kashmir