Unbroken Thread – From Bhanwari Devi, To Nirbhaya To Priya Ramani

An abuse on one of us is an abuse against all of us! India will transform! That, is what it takes.

Here is an unbroken thread
From Bhanwari Devi to Nirbhaya to Priya Ramani
How?
—-
2017 dawned with reportage of mass sexual molestation
On the streets of Bengaluru celebrating the New Year’s Eve.
It wasn’t the first time
It wasn’t the only city
Every woman knows
Women and many men were outraged
We wanted to protest
Demand police, government to prioritize
Too many, too often, too heartrending
To our shock, some said
We shouldn’t make a big deal of it
Bengaluru’s reputation will be damaged!
Bengaluru’s reputation will be damaged!
Never mind human dignity, human rights, human well being!
Bengaluru’s reputation will be damaged!
And we said?
Well .. take a walk.
We came out.
From far & wide.
We protested.
We said our piece.
Today, Delhi HC said its piece
Formally, legally
Right to Reputation CANNOT be protected at the cost of dignity!
If this is the reaction to a city’s reputation
Imagine the reaction to the majority of abusers
Who are usually, families, relatives, friends, lovers, husbands.
NO WAY TO SPEAK UP.
NO WAY TO SPEAK OUT.
And still retain support, relationships, network
And still retain dignity.
In India, indignity isn’t an abusive male
It is the abused female
Now imagine Bhanwari Devi
Deemed low in the caste hierarchy
Working as a government volunteer
Against ugly patriarchy
Preventing the child marriage of a ..
Wait for it …
9 MONTH OLD CHILD!
Being gang raped.
Going from pillar to post to
Even to get a medical exam
Even have an FIR registered
Even with the semen of 5 men found in the swab
Then …
All 5 acquitted with the verdict:
**The village head cannot rape
**Men of different castes cannot participate in gang rape
**Elder men of 60-70 years cannot rape
**A man cannot rape in front of a relative: 2 were uncle/nephew
** Higher caste men cannot rape lower caste women because of reasons of purity
**Bhanwari Devi’s husband couldn’t have watched
his wife being gang-raped
Protests by women went on for 5 years
Numerous women’s groups & NGOs protested on the streets
For Rajasthan government to take responsibility
For a woman assaulted at work
In 1995 the Supreme Court finally issued
The Vishaka Guidelines
To protect women against sexual harassment in the workplace
And Parliament only passed it as law
21 years later, in 2013 – POSH Act
Until then, working women had NO RECOURSE
The ONLY reason this happened?
Women joined together for their rights.
#BhanwariDevi‘s valorous spirit
Woven with that of scores of women supporters
Transformed law for all of us women
Ditto, Nirbhaya
The horrific, inhuman crime against her
Led to an uprising on the streets
Of women (and men) spontaneously coming out
Again, and again, and again
Before Justice Verma Committee revised the rape laws
To finally include basic things like
Inserting ANYTHING into a woman’s genitals
Voyeurism, Acid Attack, Police refusing to file an FIR etc.
Rape Law Amendments, also passed in 2013
The ONLY reason this happened?
Is because women joined together for their rights.
#Nirbhaya‘s valorous spirit
Woven with that of scores of women supporters
Transformed law for all of us women
That brings us to #PriyaRamani & #MeToo
Today’s judgement acquitted her from defamation
Of alleged serial sexual harasser, ex BJP Minister MJ Akbar
But the remarkable comments of the HC
**Sexual abuse takes away dignity and self-confidence
** A woman has the right to air her grievance ON ANY PLATFORM OF HER CHOICE even after decades
**And someone’s right to reputation does not exceed her right to dignity
Will potentially transform sexual harassment cases
Again, the ONLY reason this happened
Is because women joined together in #MeToo for their rights.
#PriyaRamanis valorous spirit
Woven with that of scores of women supporters
Is transforming law for all of us women
#MeToo allows the safety of numbers
#MeToo allows the security of shared trauma
#MeToo is just another form of women’s solidarity
Just like women banding together for street protests
And the court, just accorded legal sanction to it!
So, I say again
There is an unbroken thread
From Bhanwari Devi to Nirbhaya to Priya Ramani
Not in the manner of abuse
But the manner we as women
– Band together
– Stick together
– Stand for each other
against abuse.
And when we do, look at the transformation!
Just look at the transformation!
Only we know, how
Public spaces, private spaces
Crowded spaces, isolated spaces
Families, friends, lovers, husbands
Every space could & does harbor potential sexual abusers
So when we as women
– Not by caste, or religion or creed BUT
Just us, as women
– Band together
– Stick together
– Stand for each other, THEN
An abuse on one of us is an abuse against all of us!
India will transform!
That, is what it takes.
From the Facebook Page of Tara Krishnaswamy.

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