TIME’S Person of the Year: #Metoo

The #Metoo Movement kicked off in the US and has now empowered women all across the world to step up and shame their harassers. Thanks to a certain Mr Weinstein (who even my grandmother knows now and wishes dead), the skeletons are tumbling out of the closet and it’s high time actually.

In India, it was flagged off by a Bollywood starlet who accused an actor of sexually harassing her on sets and funnily, he got ample support from online trolls who pledged their loyalty to him since he has apparently helped farmers and given much to charity. I personally found this hilarious but not in a funny way.

More and more women are coming forward to speak of their experiences, which is a first in a traditional society that lays unbelievable emphasis on family dignity and expects victims to just “forget that it happened and move on”.

Rape is the most heinous crime and I place it higher than even murder. At least the dead rest in peace whereas a rape victim languishes and faces living hell every day on every level: physical, mental, emotional, psychological and even societal. It’s a fate I don’t wish upon my worst enemy and I truly believe that death for the perp is the only satisfactory punishment, if not doing away with their offending organ.

There seems to be a sickening trend of infants being raped and casually murdered like it’s the most normal thing and anyone with a daughter will understand what a peace-of-mind-killer it is. Reading each woman’s personal account makes me feel nauseous-especially when I know that the survivor is losing sleep and battling intense PTSD while their attacker is blissfully roaming free and in likelihood, eyeing his next potential victim.

People who blame women for “asking for it” through their clothes crack me up the most. It’s very easy to blame necklines and hemlines because it almost justifies the crime and absolves the audience of any moral responsibility or standing. But how would you explain why a 10-month old infant got brutally raped? Perhaps she was “asking for it” by crawling around in seductive Pampers? Or what about someone covered from head to toe in an abaya? Maybe they “asked for it” since black is such a sexy colour? What about the case of the pregnant goat that was gang-raped by eight men and left to die in some remote corner of India? Guess it was certainly “asking for it” since it wasn’t wearing any clothes at all.

The fact that there are truly deranged men in urgent need of a taser between their legs, running free in the guise of normal, civil beings is scary enough without women sometimes unknowingly courting trouble. Every time I read a #Metoo story which included the narrative of “I was at a party and after one too many drinks, everything was blurry…”, I wanted to facepalm. When women who are perfectly in their senses and firing on all cylinders are harassed in the most obscene ways without a second thought, I can’t even begin to imagine the fate of an inebriated woman. It’s almost like we’re setting up our own crime scene. What can you expect when you slash your own wrists and go swimming in shark-infested waters? Partying is cool and everyone does it but downing liquor and losing a sense of surroundings and total control is not. It’s the perfect recipe for disaster and one which would strip you off any sympathy and empathy from even family and friends-not to mention the ones sitting in judgement on their moral high horses and the ubiquitous slut-shamers.

I’m a new mom myself and have a precious 18-month old baby girl who keeps me up most nights-not on diaper duty-but with worry as I watch the world helplessly, going from bad to worse. On most days, I change the channel on TV when there’s a fresh story of assault and turn the newspaper pages quickly from the Front Page to the comic section because it just sets me up for another long night of worrying and praying. Apart from enrolling her in self-defence classes when the time is right, I also think hard and deep about what I want her to learn when she steps outside into the jungle we’re living in. First things first: Don’t invite trouble by doing something stupid where you’re not in perfect control of your senses and muscles at all times-which simply translates to no alcohol or falling asleep carelessly in public transportation. Second: If someone acts fresh or tries to overpower you, feel free-rather consider it mandatory-to make a noise, kick hard where it hurts and escape to safety. You owe it to yourself and no court in the world will convict you for an act of self-defense.

It’s indeed unfortunate and almost tragic that we live in times where serial sexual predators are voted into the highest possible office. This only teaches boys that they can get away with any form of gross misbehaviour and still be lauded and achieve whatever it takes to be a success. So the onus is on us to teach our daughters to be solely responsible for their safety and security and not expect the laws of the land to really be their knight in shining armour when things go wrong.
If only Hammurabi’s Code of ‘An eye for an eye’ was an incorporated law. Then justice would have truly been blind.

By Priyanka Saligram

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