The honourable Congress MP from Goa, Shantaram Naik, made a statement in Parliament to the effect that women who socialise with strangers beyond midnight invite rape. His remark was later expunged – I love this word – from the records of the House. It’s as if those words were never said. Would that it were that easy for the victims to expunge the memories of rape…..as if it never happened. And why blame this man, when the Chief Minister of Delhi, herself a woman, believes that a woman travelling alone at night invites trouble? And, given her liberal parole-granting record, we can safely guess that she also believes a woman working in a bar after midnight is asking to be shot.
So, I thought to myself, let me get this argument straight. What do we have here? What does this argument, so often touted by our law-makers, imply? Well, here’s what Naik actually wished to say but couldn’t fully articulate (he’s a politician after all!): a prostitute deserves being coerced into a sexual act by cops. A woman out at night with strangers deserves to be raped. A woman out at night with friends deserves to be raped. A student travelling on a rickshaw with her brother deserves to be raped. A female tourist in India deserves to be raped. A girl spending time with her boyfriend deserves to be raped. A two-and-a-half year old child deserves to be raped. A mentally-challenged twelve-year old girl deserves to be raped.
Well, I know I am a little slow, but I finally got it. What Naik and his ilk actually meant is this: if you have a vagina, you deserve to be raped.
I think that’s a very clever argument. And we are extremely fortunate to have such people decide our destinies. It’s just a matter of time before these bright sparks figure out that this line of thinking – ‘blame the victim’ – can be extended to many other sticky situations. Say I die in a terror attack. Clearly it was my fault. Why was I out shopping, or eating out, or even travelling in a train? I should have stayed home. I deserved it. And if I die because the overloaded boat I’m on capsizes? You guessed it. My fault again. Who told me to take a holiday? I should have stayed home. I deserved it.
Ok, I get it. I should be home. But what if I die at home? Say terrorists attack my building and shoot me dead. Or, if I wish for a relatively more prosaic ending, my unauthorised, bribe-enabled and therefore sub-standard building collapses. What then?
Why, then we have the failsafe! That’s right, you suckers, we’ll expunge that awkward question!
See? It’s as if it was never asked.
Expunged. I just love that word.