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I stand in solidarity with all those voiceless girls whose innocence are marred by their perpetrators. Those girls whose screams are muffled by the society’s blissful ignorance. Those girls whose feet are shackled by the chains of atrocities. Those girls whose eyes shine with tears of melancholy. It’s not just that these girls are subjected to vile brutality. I feel even more crestfallen at the fact, that their endured horrors never ends with their abuse. In reality, it magnifies with a slew of insensitive comments and accusations on the victim’s character.

“What was she wearing?” “What was she doing out so late?” “Why didn’t she report it sooner?” “Why was she with a boy?” Such are the incessant questions stemmed from pure misogyny. Ignorance is not an excuse. You don’t need a degree to understand the validation of females. Because, Its not a matter of education but of morals. The kind of morals that are ingrained in the very crux of humanity. Any man can and must respect a women’s body, dignity and consent. No matter where he comes from, what he is taught or how he is brought up. You may ask: How?

Well, the greater question posed is: How can he not? When he comments crudely, does he not know, she might be a mother? Just like his, whose womb ushered him in the Universe. How can he be disrespectful to someone like her? When he eve teases, does he not know, she might be a sister? Just like his own, whose playful banter brings solace in his life. When he rapes, does he not know, she might be a daughter? Just like his, whose naiveness warms up his heart.

When misogynists are reminded to their duty to be respectful. They are quick to make scathing attacks on the victim. The victim is brutally dissected. Right from her clothes to her lifestyle to background to her character. But, it’s not her red lipstick that reminds you to cherries that allured men. It’s not her pretty dress that she bought happily from the mall last week that seduces men. It’s not her being out late till the sun sets that provokes men. No, none of these are to blamed. Because, even if she was covered head to toe in a burqa, If she was just an innocent child or a helpless old women. Her dignity would still be in peril. Because, it not how we appear as a women that subjects us to such crimes. It’s our being a women that makes us vulnerable to it. So, the next time someone states “what was she expecting?” “She asked for it” I want to ask such despicable people. How was young child sexualized? Were her pigtails too alluring? Her school uniform too pretty? How was an 75 year old women in Uttarakhand raped? Did her weak bones and diminished life not contract the cold hearts to those vile men?

I am quite certain these questions would only ensue silence. Emphasis is always given on precautions such as taking defense classes and steering clear of secluded places. But, is that the answer? Is that how our society will reform? Don’t teach your daughters to look back in fear every time she steps out of her home. Teach your sons to respect women. They shouldn’t be the reason someone’s daughter is looking back in fear.

What’s even more disturbing is the convenient silence of certain groups because the victim does not ‘belong’ to their groups. What pains me the most that now people choose to show pity depending on the God that you kneel to, the side of the border you belong to, the person you accuse of, whether you wear scarf or sari, whose political party you support of amongst many other disparities. What the society often forgets is above all we are humans first. The only legitimate division between us that actually matters is whether you remain tight lipped with the oppressors. Or scream with suppressed. So, let’s hold hands and fight against the beastality that is slowing rotting away the core of humanity.

Its just one Zainab whose face we saw. It’s just one Nirbhaya that we heard of. Its just one Asifa that we know of. Let this be a painful reminder that there are countless others too. Whose faces we may never see, whose voices we will never hear and whose stories we will never know.

Written By: Ms. Vrushali Marchande, Final Year Student, BBA. LLB, University of Mumbai Law Academy, Legal Intern at S. Bhambri & Associates (Advocates), Delhi.

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