The Breakthrough Voice 5th February, 2015

Harassment and VAW: What needs change?.

A 17 year old girl was forcefully made to take private tuitions by her chemistry teacher and then constantly raped and was threatened that she would be failed if reported.

When she found out she was pregnant, the teacher, with the help of his wife, took her to a hospital and medically terminated her pregnancy.

Such news has become a part of our lives now with newspapers flooded with such news almost every day. Women are constantly exploited, molested, raped and what not. The question is ‘why?’

They say a girl is raped because she was wearing short clothes. Really? Does that mean women in suits or burkha don’t get raped or harassed? No. There have been rapes of a girl wearing salwar suit as well as a girl wearing a burkha. But even if such is the case then when we flip the coin, I bet there is no woman who hasn’t seen a guy walking shirtless and yet I wonder why have I not heard of any case where a woman jumped on a man and raped him because she was sexually aroused by his naked body. So what about this case where the girl must surely be wearing school uniform. Was it her fault that she wore the uniform to school? Its never the girl or her dress that matters, it’s the rapist that matters, it’s the teacher here that mattered, its he who made the girl join his tuitions, it was he who molested and raped her, It was he who threatened her not to report, it was he who terminated the girl’s pregnancy and he was the reason for the girl’s pregnancy.

As reported, the girl kept mum even after going through all this because she was scared of what people would think and say. Yes, this. Exactly this is a major issue. Women do not raise their voice against such harassment because they are scared of what the society will think because our society, when a girl is raped or molested, instead of blaming the accused, blames the survivor making her suffering even worse. We ask our daughters to dress up properly, not to stay out late at night, and give them a lot more instructions but incidents like these prove all the safety measures taken to be of no use. People like this teacher are to be blamed as already discussed – he was the one raped her, he was the one to do everything and the girl’s fault stands nowhere.

So what needs change? People do – their thinking, their mentality and their attitude towards women need to be changed. Instead of instructing our daughters, it would be much better if we teach our sons to respect women thus targeting the root of the problem.

One can surely never forget the Nirbhaya rape case when thousands of people came out to protest. It’s always good to know that there are people who take a stand against such crimes but it’s heartbreaking to know that when a girl is being molested in public, nobody gives a damn. All bystanders do is watch the ‘tamasha’ going on. Referring to another story that I came across a few days ago, a girl was molested while travelling in metro where a man was trying to brush his penis against her body. When she protested, there was no one to help her out, she was shouting and screaming and it did no good. She dragged him out of the metro and then came a point when he tried to free himself from her a and run away and was successful, what happened then is that the girl was running after him and all others present on the station thought it’s not their problem. I wonder how was it not their problem? Could their friend or a family member not be in such a situation and even if not, doesn’t something called ‘humanity’ exist? Or have we become so selfish and self-centred that we do not need to help someone in trouble if they are not our dear ones?

Things need to get better, harassment of women needs to be stopped, people need to change their attitude, and laws need to be much more effective. Children need to be taught to respect women, the youth needs to come forward, and most importantly women need to raise their voices against the harassment and the norms that say women are the weaker section of the society as compared to men.

About the Author: Kriti is a law student at the National Law School of India University, Banglore and interning with Breakthrough in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

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