Article written by Ananya Roy
It's 8 pm in a scarcely crowded restaurant, and I'm returning from a gig with a ginormous keyboard around my arm. I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder, never certain whether I shall return home in one piece. I am constantly aware that the herculean load on my back slows me down, making me an easy target. And just like that, my instrument, the love of my life, the key to my heart, has become the greatest liability to my own safety.
We live in a country where women are violated as frequently as their violators are acquitted. Moreover, our law and order system is implicit in its denial of justice. Our options are to either be aborted/killed/abandoned at birth, or to live a life entrenched in constant trepidation of the next time we face assault. We should be livid. ALL of us. No matter how qualified you are, how hard you work, how far you reach, you or someone you care about will always be in danger, as made clear by the utterly de-humanizing nature of recent events.
I refuse to believe we are a country rampant with sick and rancorous savages, even though they seem to be the ones with all the power at present. At a surface level, they decide when we go out, when we return, what we wear, how much we drink, the angle at which we'll position our keys to fend off an attack.
At a much granular level, however, they are the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister of the nation, the actors, writers, singers, journalists, entrepreneurs and leaders that shape our country for better or (mostly) worse. They can and will clear their names with a few illicit exchanges under the table; meanwhile, no one is coming to save us anytime soon.
One of the most important things I've learnt about musical performances is that a band is as strong as its weakest musician. In our resistance towards India's ubiquitous rape culture, perhaps our weakest link lies in the rural towns and villages of the country, where umpteen rape cases are passing under the radar, with most of them not even being reported. Replete with a steadfast victim-blaming culture and the firm belief that "it takes two hands to clap", most children in these areas grow up believing that if a woman is abused, she immediately becomes a repository of shame. The perpetrator, on the other hand, gets off scot-free, if not grossly congratulated on his latest conquest.
No one should have to live like this. In the words of the fearless and empowering Faye D'Souza, our law and order system has collapsed. It is not going to get easier to identify predators anytime in the near future, so we might as well do something about the ones that have been outed. Far too many women across the nation are missing out on well-deserved opportunities owing to an overwhelming fear for their own safety.
For the next few days, various celebrities and the media will treat this as fodder for their own political vendetta, even as people across the country continue to be assaulted. I want to believe in the progress of this country, but each passing day is proof of the fact that with each step forward, we're set two steps back.
Everything happening in this country is appalling and downright unacceptable, and we shouldn't be expected to put up with it any longer. We are seething, we are reeling under years of subjugation, and we shall rage as long as it takes for the judiciary to awaken from its slumber. It isn't about protecting India's daughters anymore, it's about delivering security to the tax-paying citizens of this country. We are owed this much; our rebellion is long overdue.