This is a guest post by Dr. Mitu Khurana. Mitu is a doctor and activist whose struggles and campaign have been covered here.
Recently I attended a performance held by the “Asmita” group of artists, in collaboration with an N.G.O ‘Ekatra’ in New Delhi,. Everyone was in tears by the end of the play. The play titled –“TERI MERI USKI BAAT”- raised several questions which need to be discussed by every citizen in today’s India.
A girl playing the role of a minor raped at the age of 7 years , asked the audience- “why was my schooling stopped, why did my friends stop playing with me, why was I being singled out and pointed out everywhere I went ,what was my fault? No one blamed the rapist; it was my life which stopped. The rape happened when I did not even realize what has happened to me, I knew of only the physical pain. My parents did not want to go to police because I would be stigmatized. Today the physical pain is no longer, but it has been replaced by a mental pain at a much deeper level- the pain of being violated, the pain of being rejected by my friends, the pain of my own stopping my life where it was. WHY? Why should be the stigma on me, when I did no wrong?”
Another girl played out the role of a minor girl whose marriage was fixed up by her parents, without consulting her at a tender age when she was not even 18 years old. The vows of the marriage included- “I will never speak out against my husband”, “I will never ask my husband anything if he comes late”, “I will tolerate all abuses”, “I will bring gifts from my parents for my husband and in laws throughout my life” and “I will never give birth to any girl child throughout my life” among other such vows. The play showed her life after she became pregnant with a daughter. Her parents refused to support her, her siblings refused to help her save the baby, and when she went to her husband, he kicked her and beat her up mercilessly in order to cause her abortion. The whole theatre rang out with her screams – “PLEASE SAVE MY DAUGHTER, PLEASE DO NOT KILL HER.”
Another part of the play showed a young bride being burnt to death on her first day in her in laws’ house because her parents did not give her a MARUTI 800 in her marriage. The play ended with various unanswered questions- why does the government say –“if a female comes out on streets after 8:00 p.m, she’s bound to be raped”, “where is a female safe- she is no longer safe in the one place which was considered safest: a mother’s womb”, “why do we stop our daughters and sisters from living their life, rather than stopping the criminals from their criminal acts/rather than ensuring their safety”.
One statement which summed it all was – ‘TODAY WOMEN DO NOT THINK WHETHER SHE WILL BE HARMED, TODAY EVERY FEMALE IN INDIA THINKS WHEN, HOW, WHERE SHE WILL BE HARMED/ATTACKED”.
The government has failed miserably to stop all this gender based violence. Today no woman, no girl, no female is safe. She faces multiple chances of being abused in every stage of life from womb to tomb. Today one woman is raped/assaulted/burnt to death/molested; tomorrow she can be my daughter/my sister/my mother or even me. No change can happen unless we all stand up as one to end this violence. It’s we who have to protest against every such case. It is not until every rape/every molestation/every murder is taken on a personal basis and on a war footing like “Justice for Jessica”, will this country become safer for women. It is not until we start teaching our daughters to stop and report abuse the first time it occurs that we will be able to protect them. It is not until we stop seeing the victim as the wrong doer and start seeing her as a wronged one who needs our love and acceptance that the crime reporting will go up.
We all have to do it. We all have to stand up.
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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,India,Sex equality