Damini or Nirbhaya; Why hide her in anonymity?
Turmoil of a rape victim is never ending. The victim is victimized every day, thereafter. Her life is divided into two halves; one before the incident and the other after it. Before, she lives her life with an identity, a name. After the event she doesn’t have that name anymore. She becomes “the victim” with various symbolic names. The Rape Shield Law forbids disclosing the identity of a victim in such cases. India belongs to the category of countries that have strongest rape shield laws; disallowing the revelation of name and face even in court trials. The aim of the law has been to save the victim from any discomfort that comes with being identified. “She” is portrayed as a martyr, a ‘brave-heart’, ‘amaanat’, ‘nirbhaya’ or ‘damini’, but the reality is far different.
The same mass who cries hugely for fair laws and justice forgets treating her right in the society. It is feared that perhaps no one would marry her; her husband might abandon her; or her children might look at her with disdain. If she tries having a normal life like before, some people would point fingers at her character, or pronounce that it must be the girl who invited the tragedy. The whole world seems to turn hostile, reminding her of the uproar; providing her a false solace by hiding her identity. This is where the patriarchal thinking steps in, alas, what hypocrisy we live in!! What needs to be eradicated is this belief! If a woman is sexually assaulted, it doesn’t poison her purity in any way. It doesn’t make her incapable of being a good wife, mother, daughter or above all a human. Women are not sex objects that such an assault shall demolish their identity. The popular tweet of Minister of Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor where he wondered what purpose hiding the name of a victim serves, is exactly what this article aims to ask. “Why not name and honor her as a real person with her own identity?” he wrote on Jan. 1. “She was a human being with a name, not just a symbol”, he said after the Delhi-gang rape of 16th December, 2012. “My name is Suzette Jordan and I don’t want to be known any longer as the victim of Calcutta’s Park Street rape. I am tired of hiding my real identity. I am tired of this society’s rules and regulations. I am tired of being made to feel ashamed. I am tired of feeling scared because I have been raped. Enough is enough!” she told the BBC”. She suffered this heinous crime in the year 2011.
The treatment of hiding the names should not be for the accused. In fact, why not make the rapists feel disowned by their family, children and an embarrassment for the society? Let the wrong doer feel insulted and ashamed to disclose is identity and not the one who has been wronged. Revelation of identity should surely be a person’s choice. Once when we would start believing in women as humans rather than as an epitome of virginity and purity, perhaps no victim would feel ashamed to ask for justice openly. They are a part of society and they must not live in anonymity!!
———— About the Author: This article has been contributed by Srishti Raj, our intern. Srishti is a student of Computer Science & Engineering at KIIT University at Bhubaneswar. She is an avid reader and a keen observer who yearns to see a change in the society.