Millennium Post

Seek justice, not revenge

‘Her life is worse than death.’ - Sushma Swaraj- on the gang rape victim’s plight Twenty-three years of lived life can be dismembered, questioned and thwarted over a period of 40 minutes in a night. The gang rape incident on 17 December has brought unimagined public outrage. Perhaps after the Jessica Lal case there hasn’t been such an impact on the people particularly the youth. As a student of psychology one wonders if the young retaliate when the idea of freedom, which is instilled in them by their own imagination, is ‘ripped’ and ‘raped’ by incidents like these. As much as people seek justice for ‘her’ they also seek it for themselves. Importantly so. In crisis the theme of solidarity emerges when the victim doesn’t etch herself as the ‘other’; she wasn’t in a five star, she wasn’t a foreigner, she didn’t hail a cab. She ‘was’ like anyone else. She was like me! The more the victim comes closer to ‘me’ the more I am affected.

The familiarity keeps the protest alive as much as it keeps the threat alive for oneself. As much as one is protesting against the victim one is also protesting against all the possibilities of being made the victim. Though it may sound like an individual pursuit, it’s not. It’s the location of oneself in the collective which forms the collective consciousness in the first place. One is tempted to ask the question to ones larger collective upsurge: Do we seek justice at all or do we seek revenge? What do we seek justice against? By no means one condemns the urgency of punishment, yet it would be too behaviourist to assume that ‘rape’ or ‘crime’ would deter with punishment. For all the perversity of the human mind, it would become more thrilling and risk taking. As much as punishment is mandated it cannot be the end where it will psychologically satiate the agitated mindset and hence the very question of  justice will be lost. Justice is a pervasive process and needs a more deeper understanding of origin and dynamic.

Rape! Everywhere is a frightful trauma. A forced encounter sadly has been misconstrued as the ‘most brutal’ way of outraging a woman’s ‘modesty’. Its ironical and hence deeply pathetic for a society where the modesty of a woman has to be lodged in the body and is culpable of being seen as ‘polluted’ and ‘dishonoured’ by the invasive act of the ‘other’.

Assuming rape to be the most cruel thing to ‘belt’ a woman is also empowering rape to be so utterly despicable that it can only bring upon the complexity of ‘shame’...that too upon the woman. We have war survivors. How many rape survivors do we have? We only have rape victims. By no means i undermine the sheer horror of the act of invasion of rape. However, as a society it has been given such a pedestal that , what happens after the incident of rape makes it thrive as a sexual outrage. Its not just that. Rape isn’t just about sexuality or rather sexuality has little to do with it. It’s more how one can come to imagine sexuality and the power it yields in our minds. No I don’t speak of the psychic distortion of the rapist. I speak of the people. The collective mindset which the rapist belongs to as much. People who rape don’t have neurons that function differently than ours. They are as much a part of the mindset we create and thrive in the society. Yes they may differ in terms of actualising what may only exist as fantasies in many people’s draped psychic corners. Rather only dragging them to either gallows or the juvenile cells we need to understand it for ourselves: where do we place rape? Crime against woman? Woman as human in the first place. When woman is viewed as primarily a sexual object, rape will of course become the way to invade her. The problem of this society is that rape isn’t just a crime which finds its delays and disappointments with the law and the courts. Even when the name of justice is held dubious the society has commenced its trial and convicted the victim of ‘rape’. Even now as the ‘she’ has succumbed to the injuries of her assault there are questions still about her ‘deserving it’, ‘causing it’’, ‘inviting it’. The principal of a private school is telling the students about how ‘girls deserve this fate if they can dare to be with their boyfriends at night’. Would just a death penalty change the mentality, the mentality that perpetuates rape and its complex culture?

As an educated woman in academic circles such persisting questions aren’t alien but difficult to answer knowing the essential depressive structure of the society. One can critique it and yet be confronted by it almost every single day. Sometimes its the capacity to be able to question which keeps the spirit alive which has otherwise become complacent and accommodating. However, we have been questioning too long- the question has always echoed outside assuming an answer. Many more rapes will happen and continue to happen-some more, some less brutal. Many more will go unreported. What we need is justice not only avenging. Justice which isn’t handed over from agencies rather justice from an internal state of dynamism which thrives within us ad which we thrive in as well. But yes! Avenging also. Every one is making a martyr out of her. Her will to live has been described as her courage. Her courage lies in being with a man at 9pm, taking a bus at that hour, challenging the delicate hollow lens which looks at woman as selfconscious beings. Her courage was when she bit the man and resisted her invasion. She wanted to be a rape survivor. And that was her courage.

The author is a research scholar at Ambedkar University
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