This is a topic that I avoid writing about, not because I consider myself ignorant of points to make or indifferent to the issue, but because I believe that the voices most worthy of speaking out on the issue and defining what it represents to them- that of the victims- are silenced point blank. This is what I choose to write about, not about the recent string of misogynistic statements that the country’s politicians have made about rape, or about the increasing crime statistics, dismal conviction rates and countless other issues that nevertheless need to be addressed seriously.
I choose to write about the stigma that follows a rape survivor like a shadow, wearing a black cloak to choke the victim on perpetual shame and guilt along with a constant unceasing worry, “What if, What if, What if, people get to know?” “What if the news spreads around?” So yes, the survivor guards the secret , no matter how miserable or helpless the society makes the victim feel. She cannot speak out, she can’t let go of it either because the people around her won’t let her by inhibiting her, by watching over her all the time.
We talk about people’s insensitivity towards the victims. Yes, people are insensitive but isn’t it partly also a result of the defiant silence which which the victims’ voices are inevitably buried. Why don’t we have rape victims coming out and talking about their trauma, about their feelings, about their future? Why is it that we have to hide the victims identities and the victims have to hide their own faces? Do we even have qualified counselors to help the victims and families? Because the brunt of something like this happening to a person is largely psychological, what with a certain woman politician equating the survivor to a ‘zinda lash’.
Today there are people bravely coming out and reporting about their own experiences of being abused or being victimized. So it is a little surprising to know that there are hardly any rape survivors willing to talk about their experiences and what they have gone through. Just a little surprising though, like I said, not very, because we have collectively enforced and reinforced the shroud of silence around an open discussion of the crime – through the eyes of the survivor. Hence, sadly, everybody has an opinion about the nature of the crime and about the character of the survivor and has a right to express their opinion except, ironically, the survivor herself.
They may have been victims, but let us not forget that they are also survivors. And survivors are meant to be strong and solid. Maybe once we wrap our head around this notion, we can welcome these survivors into the mainstream, so that the society finally knows their story and finally, finally understands what being a rape victim and a rape survivor actually means.