Victim Shaming: Our Shameful Reality

It is said that change is the only thing constant. However, it takes an era to effectively change the thought process of a society. Ever since the dawn of civilization, women in our country have been subjected to a regime of consistent patriarchy. Every aspect of a woman’s life is controlled by the males related to her. The genesis of the concept of victim blaming owes its existence to the deeply rooted patriarchal thoughts that stigmatise every action that a woman takes. Now that the women of the present times have learned to free themselves from the shackles of control, the male ego is hurt.

It is seen that whenever a woman turns a victim subject to certain atrocious act and braves the courage to speak up against the wrong, the society dubs her to be the guilty one. She is guilty because she is a woman. She is guilty because she dared to express her individuality. She is guilty because she tried to break the status quo that exists in the society. The society teams up against her and cites the same reason they used to restrict her within the four walls of the house, instead of helping her gain justice.

We can understand the depths to which this ideology has been ingrained in our country by highlighting the fact that people holding public offices justify crimes against woman by merely stating that, ‘boys will be boys, they make mistakes’. What we can interpret from this statement is that, the mistake of a woman is that she exists. Looking into various case studies, we can find out that whenever a woman approaches the police for help in case of assault, sexual harassment or rape, the authorities start finding both tangible and intangible reasons to justify how she brought this upon herself. This is a major deterrent in the course of justice. The primary questions that are asked include:

– What was the woman doing alone at night?
– Where is she coming from?
– What was she wearing?
– Has she been drinking?
– How is her character?

While the focus should be on the ones who committed the crime, all talks end on the woman’s character. What actually should be thought about is

– Who were the men?
– Were they drunk driving

– Have they done such an act before?
– What were their intentions?

By putting emphasis on diminishing the fault of the accused, the element of harassment is put to the periphery and the victim’s moral vulnerability is made primary.A major fault lies in the thinking of the society. Rape and sexual assaults are not seen in the light of a crime, they are seen as a black spot on the very existence of a woman. India’s obsession with the concept of virginity makes the lives of the victims miserable. They are looked down upon by the entire society all through their lives and are considered USED. While on the other hand, the criminal and his character is not judged. There have been instances of the rapist marrying immediately after being bailed out of jail. It is our sad reality that a rapist will find himself a wife but a girl who has been assaulted is not considered ‘pure’ enough to be married. The victims are often driven to the edge of suicide because of the dual pressure: the trauma of the dreadful incident and the mounting social pressure. The shame is so strong, but the people don’t understand that the shame has to be with the predator.

The biggest irony of the situation is that in a country where females are considered goddesses, their condition is miserable. The regressive and conservative culture often presents oppression in the name of virtue, perfumed by our definition of goddess.It is high time that we learn to different the victim from the guilty. Citing baseless reasons to cover up the horrendous acts of men who cannot control their urges is a black spot on the face of a society which claims to be progressive. Be it domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, acid attack or stalking, putting a woman in a vulnerable position just because men consider an independent woman as a treat to their power, is a great threat to the existence of a peaceful society.

Let us all work towards making this country safe for one and all. Let the guilty be punished and the victims be helped to get the due justice. Setting stricter precedents can deter predators from committing such crimes. The message that today’s woman is not going to remain silent and will make her attackers pay for their crimes should reach the men loud and clear.

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