From Hathras to Balrampur: Why rape and death are fine but injury details aren’t

Public anger comes when details of what the rapists did to the body, apart from raping it, spill out.

 |  3-minute read |   01-10-2020
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A body intact versus a body with its bones broken, intestines gorged out, tongue slashed and broken bottles and candles stuffed in the private parts is no contest. Both bodies feel nothing, they are bodies after all. But the injuries decide how we feel about the body. Our outrage is ranked accordingly.

Rape: 2 points.

Rape and murder: a consolatory 5 points.

Rape and murder with bones broken: good enough 8 points.

Rape and murder with bones broken, woman paralysed: a perfect 10.

That evokes outrage.

Can’t fight rape, so manipulate the outrage.

hathrasnew_690_100120101106.jpgThe pyre of Hathras victim. (Photo: Twitter/@TanushreePande)

Two Dalit rape victims in Uttar Pradesh have died over the last 2-3 days with the police trying to tell us that even though they may have been raped, the injuries were not as severe as they are being made out to be. The police don’t care if the injuries were severe enough to leave two women dead. How much more severe is an injury supposed to be?

When details of the Hathras victim emerged, comparisons with the December 12, 2012, Delhi gangrape began. Remember, that is the benchmark India has set for how brutal is brutal. It doesn’t matter if you cry yourself hoarse saying rape itself is brutal, because rape is regular.

The 20-year-old Hathras victim was paralysed because she received injuries to the spine. A police official tried to explain that it was a couple of bones in the neck that received injuries because of the scuffle that happened between the victim and her perpetrators. Her tongue wasn’t slashed but had received a cut from the victim’s own teeth in her bid to fight off the men attacking her. The police also claimed reports don’t show rape injuries. That the woman was dead due to an assault wasn’t enough.

A day after the death of the Hathras victim, a 22-year-old Dalit college student was raped and brutalised in the Gaisari village of Balrampur. She was reportedly abducted while on her way back from college where she had gone to pay her fee.

She arrived at home in a rickshaw in an unconscious state with her legs and spine reportedly broken. It is believed her perpetrators packed her off home on the rickshaw. Such thinking, considerate rapists. Temper down the outrage some more.

Once the rickshaw reached home, the parents of the victim rushed her to a hospital. She died on the way. The hospital declared it thus: brought dead.

The Balrampur Police has patted itself on the back saying both accused have been arrested. “The thing that breaks hands and legs is not right (sic and sick).”

The clarification is important because it tempers down public anger against rape. Mind you, there is hardly any public anger ever shown against rape. Or even rape and murder for that matter.

Anger comes when details of what the rapists did to the body, apart from raping it, come out.

Injury marks on private parts are expected because that is how rape happens. In some cases where the perpetrator can completely overpower the victim, even those injury marks are not found.

Injury marks on other body parts are our measure to ascertain the gentleness of a rapist. Just bite marks and some black and blue on the body here and there show a normal course of rape.

In 2012, people’s stomachs churned when they began to graphically think over what happened on December 12 with the victim. Rods inserted in her private parts to gorge out her intestines.

With not a shred of cloth on her body in the cold of Delhi’s December, she was thrown off a bus on the roadside. She died.

This is the kind of rape story the police and government would want to avoid. The NCRB data on how many rapes happened and how many survived those rapes are just data – nameless, faceless, detail-less.

They can go on happening because they happen. The devil is in the details.

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Writer

Vandana Vandana @vsinghhere

Author is the former Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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