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Nikita Tomar's murder brings to the forefront this question - why does society put the stigma around reporting rape and harassment before the seriousness of a crime?
Nikita Tomar’s murder brings to the forefront this question – why does society put the stigma around reporting rape and harassment before the seriousness of a crime?
On 26th October, Nikita Tomar, a 21-year old woman was shot outside her college after she resisted being pushed into a car. Although rushed to the nearest hospital, Nikita succumbed to her injuries. The perpetrator was identified to be her classmate turned stalker who had once kidnapped Nikita between his attempts of forcing her to marry him.
Nikita’s parents had filed a formal complaint against her attacker in 2018, but they had eventually withdrawn it.
There are different reasons that have been reported, some saying that the families knew each other and Nikita’s parents were assured that there would not be another incident. Other sources point to political pressures due to the perpetrator’s family connections. Regardless, a complaint against harassment and the violation of a woman’s privacy was withdrawn.
Nikita’s parents deserve the biggest sympathies for having lost their child to a horrendous crime. However, the series of events is reflective of society’s list of priorities, which puts women’s honour above their own interests, and in this case, their safety.
Has reporting a crime become more about these aspects that the victim’s suffering?
From deciding what women should wear to how they should sit, society prescribes everything based on the ‘modesty’ attached to the female gender. While we may know of outright sexist comments like wanting a “modest daughter-in-law”, it blows my mind even more to think that Indian laws about crimes against women are based around the same concept of modesty.
Perhaps, the same logic of ‘modesty’ or ‘izzat’ is what causes cases of rape and harassment to be withdrawn, labelled ‘fake’ or to go completely unreported. The stigma around reporting rape and harassment takes over the seriousness of the crime.
While it is a complete disregard of women’s experience, it is also encouragement for perpetrators to continue a pattern of behaviour, just like Nikita’s attacker.
Adding on, it also serves as an indicator of the casualness with which these cases are treated. It only makes other perpetrators think that such a crime can be gotten away with. Perhaps it’s time for ‘log kya kahenge’ to take a back seat, because unreported cases are only encouragement for dangerous behaviour, leading to more victims.
Women, their voices and complaints need to be taken seriously. Their interests and safety should be the priority.
Society’s lens is tainted with concerns of ‘izzat’ and ‘modesty’. So much so, that it forgets to hold the actual perpetrator accountable.
Between the concerns of honour, stigma, and modesty, and the moral police, where do female interests fit? Why is family honour or tradition more important than a victim’s suffering? Why does law define a crime in terms of the woman’s ‘modesty’ and not their interests and safety?
These questions are only scathing reminders that we women still come second.
Image source: YouTube
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A student of International Relations at Shiv Nadar University. Enjoys old bands and acrylics. read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Homeschooling in India is having a moment. As families become increasingly weary of traditional schooling thanks to cookie-cutter policies and high costs, parents are opting for alternate methods of education
Homeschooling in India is having a moment. As families become increasingly weary of traditional schooling thanks to cookie-cutter policies and high costs, parents are opting for alternate methods of education.
Come Monday morning, homes with young families across the country are in a chaotic yet familiar dance. Ceiling fans are turned off, and lights turned on with a vengeance.
Teeth are cleaned, and breakfasts are shovelled down. Uniforms and shoes are thrown on, and heavy school bags are picked up as parents and kids alike make a mad dash for the door.
But if you look closely, the underlying reason for anger and frustration in both groups of women is the same. It is the anger amongst women in being told what (or not) to wear.
A twenty-two-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, was detained by the morality police for breaking the country’s strict dress code. While in custody, Mahsa passed away. It was alleged that Mahsa was beaten in custody, leading to her death. An allegation, the Iranian police have dismissed as baseless.
The incident has sparked protests all over Iran. Women are taking off and burning their headscarves. They are chopping off their hair in public squares. These acts of defiance are against a regime that makes the hijab mandatory for women.
Closer home, in Karnataka, a few months back, young girls in PUC colleges were protesting against the administration’s decision to ban headscarves in the colleges. They were demanding their right to education while following the tenets of their religion. The matter was taken to the Karnataka High court, where the women lost. The matter is now sub-judice in Supreme Court.