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An anti-rape poster that went up recently has received a lot of flak from the public and rightly so. The poster states that it’s wrong to rape a woman because then by extension you rape and hurt her entire family, because she is a daughter, sister, mother etc.
Though the intention may have been well-meaning, the message in itself is wrong and patriarchal.
A woman is a human being first and has her unique identity. She is a person with her own likes and dislikes, intellect, expertise and dislikes. Yes, she plays many roles and may handle them all beautifully, but she is not limited to them. Unfortunately, in our country, a woman’s first responsibility is to bear the collective pride of her family, popularly called ‘khaandan ki izzat’. Hence, any step she takes, she has to do so ensuring that she does not cross the invisible line that is always drawn ahead of her.
Being raped is way beyond that line. The poster at least recognises that no woman invites this crime upon herself, but then proceeds to say that ‘do not commit this heinous crime because she is a bearer of the familial pride which will be hurt’.
Rape is a crime and a vicious one. It causes physical, mental and emotional trauma that sometimes last for years and causes irreparable damage to the survivor. It is not simply sex without consent; it is a violent act in which the person committing the crime revels in the power he has over the other human being. It is forced and hurtful and a violation of the worst kind.
The message we need to start giving out is that rape is a crime against a woman’s autonomy. No person deserves to undergo the ordeal that it causes. It is an offence which will lead to strict and rigorous punishment as there are strong laws against this act.
Let’s give out a message that every women deserves respect, period and every man is duty bound to give her that respect – not that a woman deserves respect because she is someone’s daughter or sister or wife.
Image via Canva
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