In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Goddess Sita was known to be Lord Rama’s wife. She accompanied him in his 14 year long exile along side his brother Lakshmana. They spent a few years at Panchvati, also known as the site where Goddess Sita’s abduction by Ravana, the ten faced king of Lanka took place. She is often regarded as the embodiment of wifely devotion and self-sacrifice.
Fabric the colour of saffron,
On the eccentric green grass,
Her sari spread like rangoli’s rays,
Her thick silky hair,
Bound by elastic,
Few short strands flow,
With the breeze that blows,
Congested in a bijou hut,
Near the free fragnance,
Of dear Godavari,
Lies the confined heart of Panchvati,
The cold damp gufa,
Where sits the almighty shivaling,
Echoes her silent prayers,
Enclosed by 14 years of unfair penance and care,
Yet her genuine heart,
Sees no disguise,
A starving beggar appears,
Mouth full of hungry lies,
She steps out,
Crossing the holy line,
He doesn’t take a second to grab her,
And divine Panchvati loses its shine,
The elastic loosens,
Black locks gather apart,
Her shrill screams haunt the hut,
Remorse fills her heart,
They fly away in his grand chariot,
Ten faces laugh aloud,
Yet the sky cries with her,
Her anger as heavy as the storm cloud,
Panchvati bids goodbye to its queen,
Lord Rama shouts in agony,
For he failed his promise,
But long gone now is,
Sita, our Goddess.
“There may have been several ramas but only one sita.”
This isn’t the best because I feel like there’s a lot more I want to address, but for now it’s just a broad view on the issues I am going to write about in the near future.
Females are not objects. Alcohol, short skirts, flirty behaviour, or walking alone aren’t the causes of rape. Rapists are. We live in a society which teaches women how to not get raped instead of teaching men not to rape.
Nothing has changed between Mahabharat and today’s Bharat. I ask you, a citizen of our country, do you notice any difference since the time of Mahabharat and now. The story might be thousands of years old, but it depicts what happens in the current society. Let’s go back to the epic and recall one of the main characters – Draupadi, the heroine of Mahabharat was always bold and forthright. Her husband Yudhisthir had a weakness for gambling and staked and lost everything including his wife. The brave Draupadi challenged the assembly and demanded to know how it was possible for someone who had lost his own self to retain the right to put her at stake as well. Duryodhana, the villain insisted that Draupadi had become his and hence ordered that she be disrobed. As she was disrobed, the more her sari was pulled away the longer it became. It was this event which turned Draupadi from a contented, but strong willed wife into a vengeful goddess. Do you remember what happened while she was being humiliated and disrobed in front of everybody? Try and remember.
Well, let me remind you – nobody dared to say a word. Not one person objected against the crime that was being committed in front of their eyes, inside the palace of the kingdom itself. Does this historic incident remind you of anything? Perhaps, our society? India is a country which has one of the highest amount of rape and sexual violence cases. Yes, women are beginning to feel empowered. Yes, they are finally gaining the rights they deserve, and slowly equal amount of respect too, but are they safe? Have equal rights stopped people from objectifying women? Have they stopped people from thinking that women are inferior? Instead, the number of assault cases has increased in the past years.
Indians pray to goddesses in temples, but abuse women in the domestic sphere. They elect women to powerful political offices, yet mistreat young girls in public, and what’s worse is that people are still pretending like it isn’t happening. People still refuse to speak about young girls being sexually harassed and assaulted. It is still considered a taboo amongst several Indians. Just like nobody dared to speak up against how Draupadi was mistreated, nobody dares to talk about how women are being harassed on a daily basis. The worst part is that most of the time, the female is blamed for it. She is accused of the fact that if she doesn’t cover herself enough then such things will happen to her. That if she goes out of the house past 8 then such things will happen. That it is her fault for getting raped.
What people don’t understand is that even if a female goes around naked on the street, one still does not have the right to, forget rape, but to even touch her without her permission. A female has a right to wear whatever she wants, say whatever she wants, and go out at whatever time she wishes to, but no person has the right to harass her and touch her without permission. Just because a female wears short clothes and goes to the nightclub, doesn’t mean that she is ‘available’. Forget females you don’t know, you don’t even have the right to touch your wife in an inappropriate way unless she allows you to. Certain men think that since the woman is their wife, they have every right to do whatever they want to with her. Just like Yudishtir put Draupadi at stake even though he didn’t ‘own’ her in the first place. If she doesn’t want you to touch her then do not try to persuade her. It is not right. What is happening in our country is not right. People are still pretending that it isn’t happening, but it is.
How many rape cases will it take for people to understand that no means no? Females are not objects. Alcohol, short skirts, flirty behaviour, or walking alone aren’t the causes of rape. Rapists are. We live in a society which teaches women how to not get raped instead of teaching men not to rape. Till when will women carry pepper sprays in their purses? Till when will women cover themselves from head to toe even in the burning heat, just so that any man doesn’t have the urge to rape her? Till when will women stay trapped in their homes after 8 pm? Till when will women not go anywhere alone? Why do things like alcohol excuse a rapist’s actions but condemn the woman’s? No matter who a person is, nobody in this world deserves to be raped or has a right to rape somebody.
Women are not your property. Since birth we have taught women to cover themselves, we have taught them shame. We have made them feel as if by being female, they are bound to be at fault. We teach them that they are inferior to man and are only for their attention. We teach them that they cannot be sexual beings in the way boys are, and if they are harassed then we put the blame on them because men are never at fault in society’s eyes. Every article I read about sexual violence always has a title which refers to a woman being raped or harassed, why is that? Why do we talk about women being raped, instead of men raping women? It is as if the victim is being accused for the crime which has been committed.
I repeat myself, nothing has changed between Mahabharat and today’s Bharat and it won’t unless we change ourselves. By this article, I do not mean to refer to all men as rapists or all women as victims. Although rape is more common amongst women, it happens to all the sexes. No matter what, it needs to end. I urge you all to speak up, being sexually assaulted is not shameful, the one who does it is. I urge you all to unite and let everybody hear your voice. Each and every person’s voice is important. We’re blaming society even though we are society, so to make it a better place, we must change ourselves first. Come forward and reveal your stories, your scars are what make you strong.