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I am Sangeeta Kampani, formerly from the IRS and retired as a Commissioner of Income Tax, Delhi. Here is a piece of verse – ‘Me Too’ that I have composed for the ‘YourTurn’ section of ‘The Print’. It is about something that we come across ever so often – the sheer exasperation of a rape victim whose testimony is often suspected, who has to rather go about the dehumanising process of explaining how she was violated, with the whole issue hinging on ‘her word’ against ‘his word’ and this is exactly where so many allegations perish, depriving the victim of justice and the man invariably getting acquitted. This is particularly so, if the man happens to be rich and powerful. Hope it resonates.
The Headlines screamed
Below, I spot a familiar, sheepish face
Oh God! This old man! Now he too!
High on the Viagra of power,
the predator stalked her,
caught hold of her at the right hour,
groped her all over,
bared her with his touch and toxic sight.
She called out ‘foul play’
Patriarchy’s cliche –
Oh! the poor guy went a bit astray.
Maybe he was a bit merry, made a small mistake,
Come on, ignore it,
don’t be such a snowflake!
And indeed, as her protests fell through the air,
they seemed like snowflakes
settling on nothing,
vanishing as they came.
She was the offence
Her complaint was the offence
rather than the offence she was talking about.
Unbending, unending principles of Rule of law
Shafts of objective reason followed,
neutral but gender-specific….
Everyone’s opinion was the same-
the whisperings of a woman carry no credence
He could lose his career,
After all, It could be a mere witch-hunt.
The woman was warned against creating further mess,
Told her it was all in her head.
And then the usual due process….
Her loud ‘‘Me too’,
was reduced to a whisper.
Slowly the woman shrank,
She pulled back
She shut up.
Like Medusa, she was portrayed as a cruel monster,
a symbol of evil,
not a symbol of power.
Patriarchy was quick to close in on its clan
The verdict was the same –
It cannot be, he is an honourable man!
These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.