As soon as the details about the rape of a 25-year old woman by a cab driver started trickling in, a set of people got busy looking for ways to blame the victim. Their search did not take too long — the woman, had fallen asleep in the cab, they pointed out.
A few months ago, an analogy went viral on social networking website, Facebook. It spoke about a man who was robbed at gun point in a secluded street at night. When he went to the police to get a complaint registered, the police asked him if he had ever donated money. The man said that he had, on a number of occasions. The police refused to believe he was robbed because he was in the habit of donating money, was out on a secluded road at night and no one saw him being robbed.
The post then asked readers to switch the man with a woman and replace robbery with rape.
“Victim blaming starts as soon as a rape case is reported. Questions will be asked of the victim and not the attacker. If I fall asleep in a cab or if I am drunk, does that give someone the right to rape me? The problem is that women are still not seen as rightful owners of public space,” said Pallavi Marwah, a JNU student.
Sunday began on a similar note for hundreds of women in the city — with parents or partners telling them how unsafe it was to take a cab and if they must take cabs, they should always be alert. They should be on the phone with someone they trust —preferably male. The number of the taxi and the driver should be sent to 2-3 people too, they were warned.
“The conversation, however, returned to that no matter what you do, it will never be safe. The conclusion that my parents drew is that I should not go out unless it is with them or some man who we trust,” said Reema Kak, an event planner.
A number of families across the country put the onus of not being raped on the woman.
“The most important thing is to scuttle rape culture and victim blaming is rape culture. Parents or partners can ask someone to be careful but authorities putting the blame on victims make people think that they somehow deserved it,” said women rights activist, Kavita Krishnan.