Shashi Tharoor is right – Reveal rape victim’s name – Kudos to girl’s family for agreeing

Let’s admit there is a discomfort in the word ‘RAPE.’ Often during light coffee table discussions we would not even utter the word and instead would convey what we mean by gestures or by typing special characters. To me the discomfort is to such an extent that I was seriously pained by the famous ‘balatkar pe balatkar‘ scene from 3 Idiots.

Stop giving her convenient names to hide our discomfort and shame in calling her what she exactly was, a Delhi gang rape victim. Every time we call her by some random feminine name like Nirbhaya or Damini what we do is brush aside certain uncomfortable facts, that a girl was gang raped, beaten to death and it happened in Delhi.

So there, we don’t need to give a false name to the girl. But, what is wrong in revealing the real identity? And this question is not to media or public but the survivor herself, or the family members in case she is no more. Why do we hide our face and identity in shame in case of rape? Every time the media whether print or TV reports on rape cases they have an image of a shattered woman hiding her face in shame sitting in darkness. Why?

We don’t hide in shame in case of murder, theft, robbery, cheating. Then why in case of rape?

Shashi Tharoor was right in his tweet where he questioned, “what interest is served by hiding the name?” Really ever wondered what interest? Whose interest?

Rather, let’s name and honor her for who she has become, the face of a national movement against rape, except that we don’t know the face. An identity is what we all aspire for, our own identity by which the world would remember us. She too must have had an aspiration, of being something. That was abruptly ended and now she has become something else, now let’s honour for the identity she has acquired.

It is important to take the ‘sex’ away from ‘rape’ and the shame would leave automatically. Rape is not about sex. It was wrong to have ‘rape’ categorized under the heading ‘sexual offense’ in the Indian Penal Code. Murder, hurt, grievous hurt etc are offenses against the human body; Theft, robbery, cheating, misappropriation are offenses against property, but rape is a sexual offense. Why is rape about sex instead of being about body, consent, force and violence? 

Clearly this was the work of a mind that thought a woman’s virginity is of religions, political, social and criminal importance. That thing called virginity defined human existence. If virginity is lost, paradise is lost, humanity is lost, or so it seemed. Once virginity is lost, the woman becomes an used / defective item in the marriage market. No man would take her anymore. This explains why forced sexual intercourse against a women’s will is NOT considered rape if it is done by her husband. Because that’s the whole purpose, right, to treat the woman’s vagina as the husband’s property.

Thus hide the fact that you were raped so that nobody would know your ‘defect’.

Last year, my laptop and money bag was stolen from my car even as I was driving. I had stopped at the traffic signal, my window glasses were rolled down and it was lifted. I narrated this bizarre incident in minute details to everybody I knew, just to alert them about how cunning these thieves have become and how swiftly they carry out their operation, at the blink an eye.

We tell these stories to prevent the same thing from happening to someone else. Except that if its a rape, a child sexual abuse, an incestuous abuse, domestic violence…basically anything that bothers women, and is not of any consequences to men, we are told to shut up and go hide

I am proud of the family of the Delhi gang rape victim who have agreed to reveal her name. I urge every woman to talk about their experiences of sexual violence. And I specially urge the rape survivors to look straight in the societies eyes and share their stories without a fear or guilt or shame. We need to hear those experiences, those feelings that are unknown to people who have never gone through it. What happens to the rape survivor, how soon does she resume normal life, how does she cope, what kind of cooperation is extended by her family friends and neighborhood, if she had a boyfriend before the incident did he stay by her side? If she got into a relationship after the incident, did he bring the topic to her? Did that make her awkward?

The more girls would talk about these, the more easy it would be to overcome the trauma and move on. Talking about your experiences makes it easier to cope, there is no rocket science in this. So please, talk. Some links where people have spoken:

A Rape survivor’s blog

Sunitha Krishnan talking about her experience on TED’s stage.

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