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It’s a tedious task to walk back home late at night.

September 12, 2022

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It’s a tedious task to walk back home late at night.

It’s a tedious task to walk back home late at night.

The dark corners of the street emanate a sense of foreboding. It is almost instinctive for me to avoid these dark patches on the road. This instinct has been ingrained into our being since childhood.

Beware. Be cautious. Be safe. These terms are commonplace in a woman’s life.

Yet oftentimes one is forced into the darkness. The hurried step, the shortness of breath, one feels lucky to come out safe.

These dark skies have a way of instilling doubt about anything and everything. The man on the bike flashing the light. A random group of guys laughing and chatting. A night stroller with deliberate bias in his gait.

I ignore these apparent threats and hurry on my way back home. But a wandering mind is hard to tame.

Will there be justice if something goes wrong? Or will that be another stroll through the darkness?

The recent release of Bilkis Bano’s rapist confirms the latter.

On August 15, 2022, India celebrated 75 years of independence. It was also the day when Bilkis Bano’s rapists were released from jail.

They received a hero’s welcome complete with tilaks, sweets and the touching of feet. Momentarily, it seemed, they were successful in gaining independence from their past.

One can only imagine how Bilkis Bano would have felt. The horrors of that fateful day would have come alive. The cries, the screams, the helplessness. Years of struggle to get justice seemed undone.

In a country like India where conviction rates in rape cases are low, the release of convicts charged with murder and rape serves as a major blow to the faith entrusted in the system. One can only hope that justice will be served in the end.

As I near the final stretch of darkness, I am tempted to run.

The brutal rape and murder of the veterinary doctor who was returning late at night shook the entire nation. Although the accused were killed in an encounter by the police, it makes one wonder about the perception of women in society.

What made them commit the crime? Did they even realise they were committing a crime or was it out of their purview?

It is absolutely horrendous how one human can be so brutal to another.

These repeated cases of rapes, even on minors be it Unao, Kathua, Hathras, the Nirbhaya case and countless others find their roots in the deep social conditioning of women being second-class citizens in patriarchal India.

Females are forced to be subservient in every aspect of their life, be it their rights on their own bodies. The shame and prejudice that follows rape are again targeted towards women.

A long sigh of relief escapes my being as I enter my home. As I lay on the sofa, I am instinctively reminded of Mahashweta Devi’s Dopdi who stood fearless in face of her molesters.

Maybe it’s time society changes its perception.

Not the victims but the wrongdoers to have their heads hung low.

– by Surbhi Sharma

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