Victim Blaming and the Social Media Vigilante

Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because ‘girls are responsible for rape’

So rang the headline. And there was a video along with it that I have not watched. I am admitting that I have not watched it not to invalidate my opinion or put forth a disclaimer. But, because I can’t take yet another round of victim blaming after what happened in my own life.

Also, this is not a rant about my own life, but a take on those who are outraged on social media because of the rapist’s attack on the victim.

I personally know so many of them who posted or “shared” the link and the video with remarks like “wtf” and other forms of disbelief and shock and rage. The discussion is often just a momentary reaction, no deep, meaningful conversations on even exploring their own gut reaction. Because aside from the collective revulsion towards the perpetrator, what is it that you all feel exactly?

Rape is horrific because of the physically violent nature of the crime and instantly provokes a reaction. But, this is not about the nature of the crime. It is about perpetrators of crimes against women blaming the women. Have you ever blamed someone for walking the street provocatively dressed and then “asking for it”. Or, saying she was asking for it when you saw a father hit his daughter? Or said that it was her fault she went to the guy’s apartment? Or, what was she thinking when she slapped her boss’s arm playfully? Or called someone a slut? Or condoned a “guy” for just being a “guy”? Or laughed when someone made an inappropriate sexually offensive remark in your presence? Or wondered how a guy like him could be with such a “behenji” type?

All these attitudes go a long way towards shaping how as a society we condone the perpetrators of the so-called softer crimes and then we are so shocked when somebody does exactly what we have been doing – blaming the victim.

I would like each vigilante to explore the answers to a few questions:

1. What would you do if your own cousin, aunt, sister, mom, or daughter told you they had been sexually abused?

2. What would you do if they told you that it was x,y, or z “guy” who you know so well and would never in a million years think he could do something like that?

3. What would you think if it was somebody in your own family who was being abusive or offensive or guilt of any other crime against women, which is not rape?

Are you going to be concerned at all? Or, is it like the dowry crime to you? Someone has to burn the bride for you to sit up and take notice? Daily verbal torture is not enough?

There are a few who seek to understand what we can do as a society to change. Well here is the simplest answer:

“Be the change you want to see.”

Sit up and take note of all behavior that violates a person’s body or mind or both, instead of sitting back and getting outraged at murders and rapes. Female mutilation, rape, infanticide, foeticide and other physically violent crimes are horrific. But, the ones that don’t leave a very visible trail are scarring too.

The cycle of abuse will not end till we put a stop to it collectively in our own family, in our own neighborhood, and our offices. Stop thinking that it happens to other people. I know that in India women are supposed to put up with a lot and we do, but we need to put an end to it at some time. This is my time. Hope it is yours!