BY MARJIYA BAKTYER AHMED
Does this begin with hope? No. It begins with the knowledge that we are complacent, weak and we lack luster.
Yet another rape case. Two girls this time. Will we let it slip through the cracks again? Will we sit by idly and twiddle our thumbs, then cluck our tongues in disapproval when the authorities decide to not bring the perpetrators to justice? We have our lives to lead. What lives? One where we go on thinking “nothing could be done”? Do your memes, the never-ending smorgasbord of series keep you distracted enough to not even spare a shred of thought to the injustices that prevail so heavily in our lives? Yes, our lives! Mine. Yours. Ours. I don’t have to sit here and tell you “it could have been anyone”. We know it well.
It goes on and on and on, and all it gets out of us is a mere shrug and a meh? How have we become so desensitized? How have we stopped empathizing? When did we stop reacting? My mind dreams that one day something will shock us out of our stupefied stupor. Something that will bring us together and raise our voice loud enough to shake the foundations of impunity.
Rape. Read that word three times, and notice how sour your tongue turns, and pay attention to the images your mind conjures. Rape. Rape. Rape. Can you? Do you feel the imposition? The absolute lack of consent? The decimation of the victims? I don’t like the word “victim”, because the connotations behind this word have shifted and become synonymous with “shame” and “dishonor”. For the love of love, don’t imagine “sex”, because that’s not what happened. It’s rape. Remember this as you read. Picture it. Let me paint it for you.
Imagine two girls, decked out, excited they have been invited to a party. I am sure we have all been to a party. They trusted the men who invited them. How is trust gained? You think about this in relation to your life okay? Now imagine they are there in the hotel room, excited to finally be at the scene. The air in the room shifts, it’s palpable with malice as they realize something’s wrong, the men seem different than the ones who invited them. The girls can see it in their eyes, roaming any which way they please, as their actions slowly lose any humanness they might have ever possessed, as they drag them off into separate rooms threatening and coercive.
We are in the room now. What do you see? Need I draw you this scene too? I will if you can stomach it. If your mind can see it. If you can really allow the image to burn into your brain and into the back of eyelids so you lose sleep from the weight of the oppression in the room, I will paint you this picture too. Held at gunpoint, a camera aimed, forced to be unrobed, pinned down and assaulted over and over, for probably what must have felt like an unending night. Can you not see it? Does it not hurt you?
Mind you, you may not dare to shift the burden of this crime. We are not allowed to think that we were not there, that we were not participating in what happened to them. We are culpable with our indifference, with our non-committal shrugs, with our godforsaken existential dread, with our passive silence. Ask yourself, if it is worth it to remain quiet. Ask yourself, if you have really done enough to exact justice. Kindly ask yourself, what will be enough, if anything?
When will an example be set? When will the ones committing these crimes be held accountable? For how long are we going to just sit back and remain as immobile spectators? When do we decide it’s time? I decide it’s now. And I don’t hope for others to decide it, I demand that they do, I expect that they will. I have not lost faith in the mobilizing power of unity, of the unison call for justice. For punishment to be given to the rapists.
Personally, I vote for castration. Remove from them what they hold most dear, their pride.