I don't know what to say, anymore

Kirthi Jayakumar
Posted December 1, 2019 from India

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old woman was brutally raped and assaulted. She died shortly after. While she battled for her life, India thronged to the streets in protest, demanding security sector reform, the drafting of new laws and their implementation, and death for the offenders. Seven years and counting, nothing seems different. A veterinary doctor was brutally raped and burnt in Hyderabad last week. December is just as cold. The pain and wounds are just as raw.

The anger is definitely raging. It is not unfounded, definitely. But what the masses and policy-makers have failed to understand are the deeper cultural and institutional problems, allowing such crimes to happen.

Trigger warning: chronicles of sexual violence

The India I know and have grown up was peppered with instances of sexual and gender-based violence. In 1973, a nurse was sexually assaulted so brutally that she lies in a coma, in a hospital, even today. In 1990, a security guard raped and murdered a girl in the flat he ‘guarded’, and was hanged 14 years later. In 1992, a woman was brutally raped because she tried to prevent the marriage of a child. In the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002, rods were inserted into women and their breasts were bitten off. Families have aborted foetuses just because they were girls – only the male child was preferred, as a girl was seen as a burden – both, in terms of tradition (it is believed by many that only a male child can carry the family name forward) and in terms of the economic burden (when girls are married off, in some customs families are forced to pay heavily in the name of dowry). When sex-selective abortions were banned to stop foeticide, they resorted to infanticide. Street children would rummage through rubbish-bins and find these corpses and mistake them for dolls. Many Indian women live at the mercy of the men in their house, where domestic violence thrive unnoticed. In 2007, a house in suburban Delhi was discovered storing many skeletons. They were the remains of several children who were lured, sexually abused and then killed.  India has remained a thriving hotbed of gender-violence, propped by the perception of women as sex-objects – an extension of which has been the recent incident in Delhi.

Please bear in mind that these are only a few of many, many, many incidents against women. There are so many more incidents that have affected trans men, trans women, and non-binary transgender people in India, too.

p.a.t.r.i.a.r.c.h.y

India has an unnecessary affection for the patriarchy. Whether in its mythological stories or in its daily living, patriarchy is enforced and reinforced by both men and women. The cultural salience surrounding a woman’s honour in India is largely the reason for dominance. Male dominance stems from the notions surrounding the protection of female honour, which is inherent in so many aspects of traditional Indian culture. Women are deemed representatives of the code of honour of their families, their blood and lineage. This in turn leads to the augmented sanctity attached to the virginity, chastity, honour and “virtue” of a woman. Women themselves are brought up with the preconditioning that preserving their “honour” is non-negotiable for their and their family’s acceptance in society. A woman represents the honour of the three-tiered hierarchy that commands her life: her husband, her family, and the community she represents. A sense of zealous self-righteousness prevails among some Indian men. They dominate, violently, in the name of making a woman “understand the importance of her honour”. If a woman continues to display her vulnerability, she is welcome, she is acceptable. The moment she asserts herself, throws an open challenge to the ‘accepted stereotypes’, she sends a subliminal slap to the ego of the male.

India’s rape crisis is not a problem of law and order inasmuch as it is a problem of mindsets. We raise our girls and women to believe that they must perform safety techniques, that they must do all they can to keep their bodies from being violated. We socialize our communities into anomalizing any gender identity that does not fall within the binary. We consume ourselves with shame if the bodies of the women in our family do not act within the prescribed code of “honour.” If men perform anything short of stoic, rough, and violent masculinity, they are deemed inadequate. Anyone who falls outside these prescribed, watertight compartments is marginalized, violenced, and hated.  India needs to understand that gender equality is not a bad thing, but that patriarchy is.

We know this. We do. I just don’t know what to say, anymore. I stand with her, I do. But I don't know what to say anymore.

This story was submitted in response to #IStandWithHer.

Comments 26

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Anita Shrestha
Dec 02, 2019
Dec 02, 2019

Thank you for sharing

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 02, 2019
Dec 02, 2019

My dear sister Kirthi,
It is very sad that this is the situation in India. It breaks my heart to know that in this day and age people are still raping and killing women and nothing seems to be done about this. Thank you so much for sharing your story and I pray it reaches out to many more people who will #Istandwithher so that justice for those who have been violated can be seen to be done.
Take heart my dear sister it will be well.
Have a lovely day.

Dawn Arteaga
Dec 02, 2019
Dec 02, 2019

I stand with you Kirthi. I know the pain and problem feel overwhelming. I am holding your hand across the distance. We are in this together.

Queen Sheba D Cisse
Dec 02, 2019
Dec 02, 2019

Greetings Kirthi,
This is a horrific act of abuse as all the rest including verbal, mental and physical included.
The governments and leaders of courts and all the rest is led by men and ruled by men. All a pre-designed plot of abusers of women and child molesters themselves,most of them if not all!

Unfortunately this is common around the world. We have said it all and now we come together to arise solutions to this and many related crimes against us. I work and live in Senegal where many women work in government politics. "United we stand, divided doing nothing we fall".
Thank you for sharing my dear, we are united with you ! #IStandWithHer

Jill Langhus
Dec 02, 2019
Dec 02, 2019

Hello Dear Kirthi,

I hear your frustration and it's so difficult to hear about all these daily atrocities, let alone live right in it, so I can't blame you for being speechless. I don't know really know what to say either, other than hang in there a little bit more while the balance is shifting. Perhaps this will help... Big hugsXX

Wusufor
Dec 03, 2019
Dec 03, 2019

Dear Kirthi,
I totally resonate with you. I boil like hot water when I see these stuffs or hear about them.
I stand with you #istandwithyou.
Hugs

Sinyuy Geraldine
Dec 02, 2019
Dec 02, 2019

Dear Kirthi, these barbaric happenings really leave one speechless. Yes, they hurt so mucb so that they leave one with such wounds within that words cannot express. Thank you for raising your voice. I know of the 2012 rape case which went on tje international news. We pray that women should be given the same treatment as men and not be treatef as trash. I stand with the women who suffer all forms of violence in India.

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 03, 2019
Dec 03, 2019

Dear Kirthi,
I am thinking of you today and send much love. Thank you for this post, naming it, naming what has been happening, and honouring these women by not forgetting or being silent. Thank you for calling for what is needed, for naming patriarchy as it is, a system to keep men in control of women. We are here to change this and though words and strength fail me at times, I regain my determination knowing we are now in the company of each other.
In deep sisterhood,
Tam

Beth Lacey
Dec 03, 2019
Dec 03, 2019

It can be so wearisome when we don't see meaningful change

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 03, 2019
Dec 03, 2019

Hello, dear Kirthi,

Thank you for raising your voice on the recent incident of rape and murder in India. It's disturbing and heartbreaking that women lack safe spaces. We stand with you, dear. We are angered with all these violence against women. Hug, my dear.

Please stay safe, and stay strong!

Manasa Ram Raj
Dec 05, 2019
Dec 05, 2019

So powerful Kirthi! Thank you!

Felicitas Wung
Dec 06, 2019
Dec 06, 2019

What a sad situation

Adriana Greenblatt
Dec 07, 2019
Dec 07, 2019

Thank you thank you for sharing! Hugs, Adriana

Spiritedsoul
Dec 07, 2019
Dec 07, 2019

Hi,
Many hugs to you. I am bempathise with you immensely. I have just heard about the most recent incident, and it was truly heartbreaking, as I remember December 2012 also, and the protests that occurred. It seems that not a lot has changed because the cultural and institutional beliefs runs so deep, I do hope that things will start to improve, and women will not be subjected to this terrible, hideous, degrading, unspeakable acts of violence.
Love and hugs to you,
Jess.

allie shep
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

Horrible! I think, like you say, the male ego is responsible for so much that is wrong with society in the whole world. Allie xx

Juliet Acom
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Hi Kirthi,

It is painful to read of these barbaric acts in this era. I applaud for sharing with us and I do pray that justice will prevail and the perpetrators brought to book. I also want to encourage you to join in the petition for such acts with Amnesty International so that they can reach a wider audience. Otherwise I am hopeful that one day this will end and we can have a generation free from such vile acts.

Wishing you well!

Aleth
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

Dear Kirthi,
It feels like my heart is being squeezed while reading your story. I PRAY that these people who are doing bad towards women will be enlightened or them to realize that they are nothing without women. The very person who sacrificed a lot and put her other foot on a grave while giving birth is a woman-OUR MOTHER.

Amelework Yilma
Dec 14, 2019
Dec 14, 2019

Thank you for sharing the women suffering in India. We raise our voice together with you
Amelework

Leonora Le Saldo
Dec 14, 2019
Dec 14, 2019

My Dear Sister,

Thank you for sharing this post. Reading your post brought tears to my eyes and I encourage you to continue writing. Change is a process which can be daunting as lives are being lost in the process of change. I stand with you and keep writing.

Ekitah
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Hi Kirthi!
Thanks for sharing your story . The issue of rape is going on everyday. Pray justice takes it course.

Oluwatoyin Olabisi
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Thank you for sharing. But you and other Women in India must not give up. You must begin to fight Patriarchy and stand for Gender Equality. Patriarchy is now old fashioned and Gender Equality is the new status symbol. Did you hear about Finland. Its just a matter of time, Women are the new face of Sustainable Development.
Stay strong and please follow me back

Esraa Eltaweel
Dec 25, 2019
Dec 25, 2019

Dear sister Kirthi,
You said it all. The patriarchy system is deep rooted in the culture that it really needs ages to be affected by any changes. And we should continue fighting our rights and never give up. I understand what you are as women going through in India, as we here in Egypt also facing high percentage of sexual harassment and rape crimes.
I am supporting you across the distance.
Sending you love and my prayers.

Pukhraj Ranjan
Jan 03
Jan 03

Beautifully shared Kirthi even though what you have written is the darkest, openly known reality for women in our country. I sense a changing stride but I often catch myself wondering when the tipping point will come. Hopefully, soon.

Chinyere Kalu
Jan 12
Jan 12

What a sad situation! Am almost tempted to say just like you, i do not know what to say anymore but no, i know what to say.
To change a culture can be very almost impossible yet impossible.
You have stzrted the change by writing about it. Keep writing and with time, others will join you and before you know it, vibrant women movement will be born. No one can effect the desired change for the Indian woman like she can.Impossible is Nothing remember, just have faith and continue doing your bits.

SADRAG
Jan 28
Jan 28

Hi Kirthi
very concise story of why women continue to suffer. Patriarchy has left us dumb. It has suppressed our voice and killed our self esteem.

In everyday life, we are breaking off from patriarchy. We dont want to change our name after marriage, we dont want to stop working, we dont want to stay quiet.
We want to be respected. So what if we have shifted to HIS house, it doesnt make us inferior at all.
We are the self and Thats how we are!

Lisa_Markovits
May 12
May 12

It is precisely that case in December 2012 that turned me into an activist. I never thought I´d be an activist but seven years later, I have created a project - Pa'Arriba Foundation in the US and No Más en Ecuador - that is working to generate change on cultural mindsets which are as much of a problem where I live (in Ecuador) as in India. We are happy to collaborate.