Girls during a candle light vigil against the brutal rape and murder of 8-year-old Kathua girl
Women protest against the inaction of police in rape cases. | PTI
Text Size:

Outrage over Rewari rape is fine, but it isn’t enough.

As yet another teenager was gang-raped in Haryana – where crimes against women have seen a sharp rise over the past three years – we in the media and civil society have once again opened what can best be described as our outrage toolkit.

The toolkit has a predictable and trite vocabulary of outrage-evoking adjectives: brutal, heinous, gruesome, violent are some examples. The outrage toolkit is, however, reserved for only some rapes we deem worthy of our anger.

To pass the outrage test, a rape should entail one or more of the following: an urban setting, graphic details, a child, politics, an educated victim, a religious angle or death.

In the most recent case in Rewari, the 19-year old victim is a CBSE topper – a fact repeated over and over again as if academic excellence makes rape a more traumatic experience for a woman.


Also read: Rewari gang rape is a reminder of Haryana’s toxic mix of patriarchy and porn


Agreed, there cannot be outrage over every rape or sexual harassment case (Indians would pretty much only be outraging if every rape created the Nirbhaya effect). The problem then is perhaps with the outrage itself. The outrage is episodic, short-lived, self-satisfying and makes a crime look like an aberration in a country, which is infamously known for its rape culture.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

According to recent reports, one of the main accused in the Rewari rape case, Nishu Phogat, had been boasting about his “molestation skills” on Facebook.

Calling out such behaviour is the right thing to do. But we need to stop pretending that accused like Nishu or their behaviour is an aberration in the society. Doing so allows other men and perhaps even women to dissociate themselves from the rape culture that’s prevalent in our society today. What we forget is that this rape culture would have never existed in the first place had accused like Nishu not been the norm in the society.

This rape culture exists irrespective of whether Nishu and his co-accused commit the actual crime. Their “molestation skills” are enough to make any woman they meet feel vulnerable or insecure.

The rape culture normalises an act of violence against women, reducing them to mere objects. It ties women’s sexuality with honour, and more often than not pins the blame for the assault on women.


Also read: When patriarchy meets smartphone pornography: Why tiny Haryana is India’s rape capital


So, if rape does not happen in a silo, why does our outrage exist in one?

Yes, reporting on rapes may prove to be politically damaging for one party over another – even this is progress for sure.

But if reporting/protesting on rapes continues to ignore the everydayness of the crime, and chooses to instead outrage for a few minutes during a primetime debate, we are likely to go nowhere. We’ve outraged enough over rapes. Now, we probably need to talk more about the pervasiveness of the rape culture, and how it affects us all every day, from being groped in a Metro to being followed by strangers on the street.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

Share Your Views

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here