What Can We Learn From The Hathras Case?

Trigger Warning// Rape, Death

A 19-year-old Dalit woman was savagely gang-raped and tortured by a group of 4 upper- caste men in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh on September 14. She succumbed to her injuries after a 2-week long battle for her life at a hospital in Delhi. This is not the first time we hear of a case as brutal as this one, so why the sudden outrage?

Safety for women in India is not a new concern and has been relevant for a long time. However, this case has allowed our emotions of anger and frustration that has been suppressed over a period of time to finally surface. These emotions keep adding up every time a female is asked to change her outfit to not provoke others, or has to bear the sickening male gaze at any place and time of the day, or is questioned every time she is surrounded by male friends but the opposite does not hold, or has to carry pepper spray and learn self-defence because men cannot practise self-control. The list goes on and on.

This is extremely prevalent in our society, for any woman, irrespective of her caste, age, colour, profession or the clothes that she wears has at some point in her lifetime faced some form of sexual harassment. It is rightly said that ‘When a shadow lurks at night, men fear it’s a ghost, women fear its men’. Women are suffocating under the restrictions being laid upon them, which, sadly, seem necessary to survive in a society such as ours. But we all deserve better.

I understand that I speak from a place of privilege. I am an upper-caste female belonging to a fairly well-off family with the highest level of education handed over to me on a platter and the choice to make my own life decisions in my hands. Some have it much worse, the ones belonging to suppressed section of society, for whom basic education is a privilege and their very right to live is not in their control. It is, thus, necessary for us to acknowledge the privilege we all hold and use it to better our society in whatever way we can, beginning at questioning all that has been taught to us, by learning and unlearning.

Every time cases such as this one surface; we demand justice in the form of severe punishment to those accused. But will hanging the accused really help in stopping them from prevailing? What we need is to eradicate the problem at the root level. Don’t just call us ‘India’s daughters’. Instead, teach proper consent to the children, including sex education in the school curriculum (no, not only learning about the male and female genitalia), stop policing girls for wearing short skirts in schools because it distracts boys. Stop telling us to adapt to the circumstance by putting restrictions on what we can do, instead, help us voice our concerns and bring a greater change.

It is crucial that we use this opportunity to take a long hard look at ourselves for we all have internalised misogyny, casteism or racism and it is thus our responsibility as informed citizens to question these social norms.

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Rashi Sharma
Rashi Sharma
1 year ago

Well written Anya!

Nitya
Nitya
1 year ago

The writer admonishes caste barriers, however, contradicts herself— This is extremely prevalent in our society, for any woman, “irrespective of her caste”, age, colour, profession or the clothes that she wears has at some point in her lifetime faced some form of sexual harassment—- yet, she goes on to assert her upper caste position in society by stating — I understand that I speak from a place of privilege. I am an “upper-caste female” belonging to a fairly well-off family with the highest level of education handed over to me on a platter and the choice to make my own life decisions in my hands. I ask: does the writer mean upper-caste women are exempt from such crimes? Is it only the lower castes subject to such crimes? Why assert your upper caste in the article and thereby exclude your experience as a woman if you stand by your generalized, rhetorical statement on sexual harassment against women irrespective of caste? I understand your passion young girl, but it is important to know the realities. Rape in modern, urban and so-called “upper-caste” households in often not even reported. Before v frown upon and feel pity for the “lower-castes”, dip deeper! And perhaps stop reinforcing caste as an issue. Best wishes.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nitya
Angana Bahadur
Angana Bahadur
1 year ago

Can see the thought behind this … me , a mother of two girls feel this way too … education to men in our society should be to respect women in every way, period ! No other subjects are really needed. I also now understand why the lower cast ( so called in India) need to kill their girl child before she can see this ugly world …. this has to stop …. we need to make a difference… You need to make a difference!!!

Anu
Anu
1 year ago

Sad but true…we all have a role… rewarding gud behaviour as well as punishment for the wrong… well done Anya

Shailaja
Shailaja
1 year ago

Well written Anya. Agree with you 100% about the need to educate our children rather than making a hue and cry about hanging the rapists. We need to address the root cause, not the symptoms.

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