There's a battle outside And it is ragin' It'll soon shake your windows And rattle your walls For the times they are a-changin'.'Rape' has become a much-debated word in the equality rights lexicon today. Television talk shows, people's movements, art, music, films, candle-lit vigils, society and the social media are abound with opinions on rape. Most people will be able to rattle off rape statistics, incidents, stories. 'Delhi Gang-Rape','Nirbhaya', 'Park Street Victim' are commonly heard references in discussions. Despite recent amendments in laws, the combination of police apathy, medical negligence, inept politicians and a slow system of justice interweave to ensure a horrific reality - Rape Culture rules. Take for example, 25 year old Lalu Tigga from Ranchi Jharkhand. Lalu Tigga is a known perpetrator of crimes on women. He has attempted to attack several women & children in his neighbourhood, including his own niece. The incident was hushed up, because, well, he was 'family'. This attempt was followed by attempts to rape a woman, and culminated in an attempt to rape her 3 year old child. Luckily, the continuous cries of the child reached an alert neighbour, Pradip, who rushed in & rescued the little girl from Lalu's clutches. Again, the community gave Lalu a chance to 'mend' his ways. However, when he returned to lurch drunkenly, jeering at Pradip, boasting that nothing, nobody could do anything to him, Pradip lost his temper and slapped him repeatedly. Lalu, along with his family members, then rushed to the home of the child, and violently attacked the mother of the child. They thrashed her, ripped her clothes off and abused her continuously, accusing her of sending Pradip to beat up Lalu. The shocked community stood by as a silent audience. Lalu & his family then dragged the woman to the police station and filed a complaint against Pradip. Community Correspondent Nirmala is a known rights activist in Ranchi. Emboldened by Nirmala's previous successes in documenting the community's issues, the child's mother approached Nirmala to get justice. While attending the Women's Group meeting in Kadru Chukatoli, Nirmala was chilled to the core to hear of Lalu's repeated misdemeanors. "I wanted to storm out of that meeting, find a length of rope & find this man. I wanted to drag him to the nearest tree & hang him unto death. The Women's Group had had enough. They had already hauled Lalu to the police station. But to repeat an oft-told story, the police had been least responsive. I met the little girl. Just spending a few hours were enough to convince me of the chilling details of this case. I set up my camera, interviewed the mother of the child & sent the story to the office. In the meantime, the case was presented in court." Nirmala snorts with cynical laughter when she describes how the State had sanctioned four lawyers for the accused, and one single lawyer for the child's family. She details how the court spent months postponing this case, how the sheer lack of knowledge & awareness of legal processes left the child's family bewildered and confused. In the meantime, several neighbours had begun to discourage the family from following up this case. They cited reasons like racking up huge bills for the lawyer; the amount of time it would take to ensure justice; and questioned whether justice would ever be served. "Such is our society— they shield these disgusting human beings instead of supporting the ones who really need help. They threaten and terrorize those in distress. Such is the state of affairs in Jharkhand, that if crimes are committed you are discouraged from initiating action because it will simply take up far too much time. I started getting discouraged, disturbed by everybody's lackadaisical attitude. Finally, when I shared my fears with friends & colleagues at Video Volunteers, everybody insisted on the same thing— to follow this case through. They brought on board Association for Advocacy & Legal Initiatives for legal intervention & Reshma didi (an advocate with AALI) took up this case. The proceedings are still on. Rape is one of the least reported crimes in India today. It's only because most people are too ashamed to discuss dirty things that are done to their bodies. It is time to change this mindset. What is truly dirty is the mindset of the perpetrator. Abb, bahut ho gaya. Main chup nahin beht ne waali hoon. (Enough is enough. I will not be silent anymore). As an activist, it is my duty to tackle such situations. As a Community Correspondent, it is my job. As a woman, it is my responsibility to educate & advocate against crimes against women. As a mother, I have realized that my obligation is to change this world we live in." Raise your voice against Rape. Follow our Nirbhaya campaign here & break the silence. Stand up. Speak out. Your voice will be heard. Article by: Radhika
“Video Volunteers gave me a platform to go the extra mile for people”
Piyali Mandal / March 20, 2023
Avijit Adhikary is a journalist with nearly 8000 days of field experience till date. In the past two decades, he has witnessed the ebb and flow of the media industry in India, with ripples felt in his region too. This includes the rise of digital media, the decline of print...