Would you call a Rape Survivor a Zinda Laash?

What the six men subjected the 23 year old Delhi bus gang rape survivor to, was more than Rape, they also, brutally mutilated her with an iron rod.  Now the braveheart survivor has a tube in her mouth so she cannot speak but she is communicating by writing and with gestures. And she asked her family if the accused have been caught.  She wants to live (and why should she not) –  Then why should she or any rape survivor be described as a Zinda Laash? ( ‘Zinda Lash’ translates to ‘A Living Corpse’)

‘Have they been caught?’ asked Delhi gang-rape survivor; fifth accused arrested

Would you describe a Rape Survivor as ZInda Laash? I have blogged about this earlier, Is rape the worst thing that can happen to an Indian woman?

Kracktivist is outraged.

I oppose #deathpenalty, #bobbitization, #chemicalcastration for #Rape will you KILL me ? #ShameonTOI #Vaw

“RAPE” IS NOT DEATH OF A WOMAN, THATS WHAT  ALL OF YOU W ANT IT TO BE ?

ITS THE SOCIETY WHICH HAS ATTACHED THE SOCIAL STIGMA AND  YOU ARE PERPETUATING IT PATHETIC !

Parliamentarians should shout for  JUSTICE and Convictions , instead of saying things like ‘zinda lash’ (living corpse) and asking for death penalty.

 

Edited to add this image:

Nari ka yeh apmaan, Naheen sahega Hindustan. Would you call this braveheart a victim of apmaan or dishonour?

Should being brutally assaulted and being nearly killed be called an insult? In that case, has the male friend also been made apmaanit/dishonored?

Naari ka apmaan

I agree with the points made in Shoma Chaudhury’s article in Tehelka.com, because nothing else can make India a safer place women.

Let me share some points that should be obvious to anybody who wants to take these crimes seriously:

1. Harsher, swifter punitive measures are definitely needed to puncture the idea of immunity that’s built up around rape. Fear of consequence is a powerful tool.

But that can be only one aspect of the correctives.

2. What is equally needed is a government-led gender sensitisation blitzkrieg at every level of Indian society: in schools; in anganwadis; in pop culture; in village shows; in the police, legal and judicial fraternity.

3. Even ‘sensitisation’ is too patriarchal a word: what we need is a determined drive towards modernity. Indians have an inherent impatience for process.

We prefer the drama of retributions: demands for lynching and capital punishments… we forget to ask, who will take these cases to a point where judgments can even be handed out?

Earlier this year, TEHELKA published a sting investigation on how senior cops in the National Capital Region think about rape. It made for bone-chilling insights. But there was absolutely no action from the establishment. The argument went that the cops’ attitudes were merely a reflection of the society they came from. Nothing should make us more fearful than that.

Please do read the entire article here.

48 thoughts on “Would you call a Rape Survivor a Zinda Laash?

  1. No, a rape victim is not a ‘zinda laash’. She has as much right as everyone else to live life to its fullest. Why should she suffer for no fault of hers?

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      • they should become zinda lash by the social boycott and withdrawal of all services and lifer in jail , plus the punishment should be equal to what was treated with if intestine lost then the rapist intestine should also be removed and the girl should decide any other punishment for rapist and other people who ostracized her .

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  2. When a woman is raped, we question her. We do our best to put the whole blame on her. Then when she fights back and gets justice, we still do not leave her alone. We call her bechari, a zinda lash. We never give her a chance to a normal life again.
    Yes, we are very persistent in that way. We either drive her away, make her kill herself or make her go insane. Then we heave a sigh of satisfaction and search for the next kill.
    I think a person who calls a rape victim as zinda laash is a zinda laash himself/herself.

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  3. Would I call a rape victim a ‘Zinda Laash’?

    Never.

    Does Shoma Chaudhary have the solution?

    I’m not convinced it is anything more than a partial solution. I like the article, and I am in absolute agreement with the point she is making. However, the fact remains that no sensitization blitzkrieg will work unless people actually have a reason to believe in it. Human beings learn a lot more from what they see and do everyday, than what they are taught out of a textbook.

    Even if teachers harp on gender equality all day, even if the population is assaulted with anti-rape slogans every time they switch on the TV, even if we go all out – it’s not going to change the minds of a lot of people. Misogynistic, patriarchal attitudes are internalized by young and old alike. How can any government campaign overcome the fact that those attitudes are embedded in and perpetuated by nearly every bit of social interaction, every relationship, every experience of the average Indian, on a daily basis?

    A sensitization campaign won’t hurt, but it must be carried out in sync with a lot of other measures, from cleaning up bureaucratic barriers to justice, to removing economic hurdles for women. Better policing and better chargesheeting. Better education and better spending. Above all, better, more proactive, more intelligent, more transparent policy responses to emergent situations.

    Only if and when all of this happens, will we begin to emerge into the modernity that Chaudhary has so rightly pointed towards.

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  4. This is where our conditioning comes in… we are used to terms like uski izzat loot li !? really if anything the statement should always have been the guy lost his izzat if izzat mean anything i understand…

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  5. Victim cannot be termed as zinda lash, because she is mentally bruised, but here in this case i would go with it saying she has been made a “zinda lash”, her intestine being removed she is on TPN. In India we don’t have a intestine transplant being done. Even if she survive through this (which we all hope for), she might be more of confine to bed and i doubt whether she would be live her healthy life.

    We in Indian have “Chalta hai” attitude, will create a uproar for few days. It will served as feed for TV channels until they get a another breaking news.

    Even our leaders will comment on it and forget it as a story of past.
    We should learn from the Government in Ireland which amend its law to relax the abortion law in wake up call after the death of Savita. Here is the link for the same : http://global.christianpost.com/news/ireland-relaxes-abortion-laws-after-womans-fatal-pregnancy-87006/

    We definitely need stringent laws and speedy laws to curb this kind of heinous crime, there is uproar in parliament to get FDI and Quota Bill, but no one wants to discuss about passing stringent law/bill in this kind of heinous crime.

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    • no one wants to discuss about passing stringent law/bill in this kind of heinous crime.

      What kind of bill are you suggesting? I mean, we already have laws against rape, and (believe it or not) the punishments are pretty stringent.

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      • Currently what we have is a law wherein a
        Culprit will be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may be for life and shall also be liable to fine.

        But this will take years to happen by then everyone has forgotten about it. Also
        it should be something which leaves a imprint in people’s mind and anyone would fear before committing such a crime.

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  6. I think what has happened is incredibly abhorrent, but I’m also quite disgusted by the news channels’ nomenclature of the events. ‘Dishonoured’, ‘modesty threatened’, ‘modesty outraged’, ‘virtue tarnished’, ‘honour affected/stolen’. It comes from the pervasive, stupid belief that virginity is some sort of prize or something, and if it’s ‘taken away’ from someone, then that means that person has lost a part of them that they will never get back, that they have become ‘impure’, ‘dirty’, or I don’t know what. When I feel this much anger, I struggle to put it in words. It is a crime, not a violation of someone’s femininity, modesty, but their right to live peacefully as a human being.

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  7. what is interesting here that because the fellow male victim of this violent attack was not sexually assaulted “to teach him a lesson” as was the case with the girl,we all kind of get into the space where we believe a girl’s sexual violation is the ultimate crime against her.Sexual violence is absolutely condemn able but what also needs to be condemned along with the rape here is the brutality of physical violence inflicted on her and her companion other than the sexual violence on them.
    I was listening to Mrs.Katara the mother of the victim NITISH KATARA Iin an honor killing on a show and she was right when she said that violence against the other in any form or due to any cause should be condemned.This whole notion of boys becoming men(sickening notions) by being roughed up and having proved their physical prowess violently needs to go.
    Please read this insightful article on how the depiction of a woman victim in sexual crime stories is so derogatory even in the media http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/when-reporting-rape-in-india-a-focus-on-shame/
    have mentioned it in my blog post http://poojasharmarao.blogspot.in/2012/12/hippos-sweat-red-izzat-and-rape-in-delhi.html?utm_source=BP_recent

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  8. Sorry for going off the topic, but I really want to share this video.

    http://in.screen.yahoo.com/day-2-another-headlines-today-084609039.html

    It shows how a female reporter standing outside a Metro station is teased by two young men who run off as soon as they spot the camera. They can be seen grinning even while they flee the spot. The response of the police is equally preposterous. A similar video about a female reporter from another channel being teased at was shared here the other day.

    Having been witness to many such incidents myself I once again repeat that no one should have any business ‘interacting’ with strangers (girls) without any reason. Something for which I have been criticized repeatedly by people commenting here. This is NOT ‘interaction’. While some people have gone on to describe such incidents as ‘freedom of speech’ and questioned whether bad behavior can be made illegal. I want such people to get it into their thick heads that this is NOT ‘freedom of speech’. Even a girl feeling ‘uncomfortable’ is enough instead of for her to wait till the discomfort to turn into harassment.

    I hope my words are now considered seriously after the horrific incident in Delhi.

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    • Neha, I’d like to direct your attention to these articles,

      http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/male-allies/how-to-talk-to-women/

      http://sheffield.ihollaback.org/top-10-myths-of-street-harassment/

      What I make of your comment is that unwanted attention in the name of “compliments” and behaviours like breaking into distasteful songs, hooting, honking, winking, cat-calling or passing any unwanted and/or lewd remarks, verbal and non verbal gestures that are clearly rude are not about respectful “interaction”/ “mingling or “freedom of speech” and therefore should never be encouraged or condoned. They aren’t innocuous rather they are unwelcome show of dominance and power and should be understood as just that. They serve as reminders to women/or any social class that is often harassed that they are vulnerable. To top that, it’s amusing how nobody seems to have the urge to yell nice things at men and boys in general.
      Those who genuinely want to be nice and have actual conversations should remember that encroaching upon somebody’s personal space, being intrusive, “complimenting” a stranger without taking permission and establishing respect is wrong and that compliments no matter how well intentioned might not be complimentary to the stranger, especially when they are yelled at somebody on the road or at some place where the stranger might feel cornered. Such behaviours are often perceived as rude and are rather alarming to the stranger. Also everybody need to keep in their mind that if you are trying to strike up a conversation with a stranger she/he is under no obligation whatsoever to respond to you and they owe you nothing. In other words, If being nice to others is what one wants to be one needs to understand that being “nice” doesn’t involve forcing somebody to do something the person isn’t interested in or making others feel unsafe, it’s about respecting people’s boundaries.

      I think Hollaback describes it very well:
      if a man approaches a woman in public politely, strikes up a conversation with her, receives a clear rejection and respects her wishes, that’s not harassment. Street harassment happens when words and actions are obviously unwanted and non-consensual. It’s forceful. It’s dehumanizing. It’s propelled by a sense of entitlement and profound disrespect for others. Perpetrators don’t want to give compliments or forge mutually beneficial connections; they want to intimidate and bully others. They resort to insults, stalking, threats or acts of violence when told to leave.

      But I am not sure about my interpretation of your comment so If you feel like discussing it I’d appreciate a reply from you.

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      • Nikhil, that is what I was trying to say. What many (not all) males think that striking up a harmless conversation with a stranger girl puts her under obligation to respond back. If a male comes up to me and asks me directions to a place or some other information, that is not harassment. Neither would it make me uncomfortable. But if a stranger comes up to me and comments about my looks, that is not interaction. Just like the example shown in the video I shared above.

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        • “Nikhil, that is what I was trying to say. What many (not all) males think that striking up a harmless conversation with a stranger girl puts her under obligation to respond back.”
          There is no obligation whatsoever that you respond to someone’s ice breaker. If someone makes you uncomfortable, you are not obliged to respond, even if they were merely asking for directions or asking which bus/metro goes to X or Y direction.

          Having said that, I strongly disagree with the assertion that “no one should have any business ‘interacting’ with strangers (girls) without any reason”. It might be what you personally feel comfortable with, but on the whole, calling for a universality of this idea is neither practical nor ideal. The guys who are sensible enough to look for advice on how to interact with strangers would use this as a ‘guideline’ to keep away from women altogether while the more predatory guys wouldn’t even bother on what you have to say about the proprierity of gender interactions. Nikhil made a good point, when someone wants to harass you in a public place, they don’t care a cahoot about your comforta levels of what you think the ideals of inter-gender seperations are.

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  9. As someone commented earlier, there are chances that she will really become a “zinda laash”, which is tragic but true. I pray she gets better. I was raped about two years back and I am fighting my own slow and painful battle. I was raped by someone I knew and although I carry no physical scars, I have been scarred both mentally and emotionally. I was completely broken when it happened to me but I somehow managed to go to police. I have had to go through several counselling sessions, intimate and degrading physical examinations, police interviews, sleepless nights, nervous breakdowns, fear and lots of tears, but when I look back now, I am so glad I stood up for myself. Yes I might have been a victim of a sick man but that is not what I want to see myself as for the rest of my life. I am a survivor. Also I really hope she will get good support system to help her heal mentally as well. A lot of people don’t realise that even after the trauma of the actual rape is gone, it refuses to leave the victims head. It’s like having something really nasty submerged inside your head. It’s continuously floating at first but with time and love it does sink. A really old hindi film that I happened to watch recently regarding this subject is ‘ghar’ (1978) starring Rekha.

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  10. To even make people aware of the violations a woman faces in daily, public life is an uphill battle. Was watching Sheila Dikshit’s interview on NDTV and the woman herself seems to have no clue. Watch it at the 32nd minute where she implies that “teasing” is innocuous, that it might be a “natural instinct” to want to touch a girl, that she has heard of no such problems on the metro. Am flabbergasted. Watch it here : http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/ndtv-special-ndtv-24×7/hate-delhi-being-called-rape-capital-but-it-s-become-one-sheila-to-ndtv/259138?pfrom=home-topstories

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  11. I also wanted to mention something about sheila dixit’s interview with NDTV. In her interview she said that no “eve teasing” (sexual harassment) happens in metro and that whatever eve teasing happens in buses and all is innocuous, like touching and all and it’s a natural instinct and can be prevented by a girl. I am sorry so are we know saying that no girl has ever experienced sexual harassment on roads and metros? Are we saying that men who leer, try to inappropriately touch women are just acting out their instinct and that it’s just some innocuous fun? Do these little incidents don’t make life difficult for women? Don’t they dehumanize women, isn’t it how violation of her right to her body starts?

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    • Nikhil, I completely agree with what you said. Innocuous and harmless eve teasing is often the starting point of serious harassment and violation of a woman’s body. But there are many people who think it is fine as long as the woman doesn’t feel threatened. Some even question that how can bad manner can be made illegal. They will never understand how mere lewd comments and touching can well be the start of serious crimes like rape. It is good to see a male think like you do.

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      • I am apparently one of those people with a ‘thick head’ so I will reply…I think we are on the same page about harassment being a terrible thing. But you seem to think the solution is greater segregation of the sexes, with no male ever interacting with a female for no ‘good reason’, while I think this is the problem. What you seem to be suggesting is almost medieval, almost like let no woman talk to any male who is not related to her! There should be more interaction, not less. In schools, in the workplace etc. so that both genders start seeing and treating each other like human beings, instead of based on gender roles. I think there are many things we can do to prevent these terrible crimes against women, but your way is like a band-aid not really addressing the real problem, and I think it will make things worse in the long-run.

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        • I am not sure If this comment was even targeted at me but I am going to reply nonetheless. I never proposed segregation of males and females. What it actually does is aid in dehumanization of the other sex and at times increased hostility. I am a firm believer in the solution proposed by you that there should be more interaction, more sharing of spaces so that people begin to see each other as human beings. My sister and I had a very long debate when metros began reserving a separate coach for women. Both of us were in two minds..because the reason this was demanded for was the pervasiveness of verbal and physical harassment that a lot of women felt but making a separate coach reserved for women makes them more conspicuous, identifiable and vulnerable, I have witnessed how a large part of men often spill just into the ladies coach(even though there’s lot of space) and leer and pass lewd comments. In fact my sister as a protest against this separate coach decided to board only the general coach and felt unwelcome with sentiments like “Go to the ladies coach, this is a “men’s” coach.” being very prominent and of course she even had to face a lot of harassment. Many people report how after 9 p.m. it does not even look like there ever existed a ladies coach in the Metro.

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        • BBD-Lite, firstly, thanks for accepting what you stated in you first sentence. That is why I’m not at all appalled at your interpretation of my comment. Respecting a strangers personal space is NOT equal to segregation of the sexes. I have been among those who have always resented the separate coach for females in the Delhi Metro. Why can’t there be common coaches but where people respect others personal space?

          Once again I want to state in simple English that a male having a relevant conversation with a girl is not harassment. But if he wants to comment about her looks or inquire about her personal life, it is just not required. If you still seem to understand that I seemed to suggest that no woman should talk to any male who is not related to her, then I’ll just console myself remembering your first sentence once again.

          Instead of promoting healthy interaction between the two genders right from childhood, people expect healthy interaction from adults who have grown up in segregation and with psyches which don’t understand what healthy interaction is. And then you term my comment as a band-aid solution.

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      • There is no such thing as ‘innocuous and harmless eve-teasing’. Sexual harassment is sexual harassment.

        ‘Mere’ lewd comments and unwanted touching are also sexual harassment, and need to be treated as such.

        You are conflating an act of criminal harassment with ‘bad manners’. Those are completely different things. Bad manners is talking loudly on a mobile phone in a library. Yelling out lewd comments is not bad manners. It is a crime.

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        • I agree, sheila dixit always manages to put her foot in her mouth. I was so appalled when I heard her say that.

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    • What I fail to understand is how girl can prevent it? What about children being teased, preteen girls who don’t even know fully that such men exist. I remember bring pinched on my thigh by a lacherous man in a crowded place when I was 12. Can Sheila Dixit and likes of her tell me what could have I done to prevent that? Till then I had no idea what it was all about. I had no idea what hit me. I was so stunned to see expression of triumph on that man’s face and I thought why would anybody want to do that to someone. And no these incidents are not trivial. This is the starting point. Why does it have to lead so something as tragic as rape for us to take notice. Why should’nt they be nipped in the bud. However no matter how much I think I just dont seem to find how. Maybe I am cynical. I have seen little kids from slums teasing college girls because that is what they have witnessed from childhood. The way women are shown in bollywood is a huge infleunce. If we propose death sentence for rapists then we will not have rape victims we’ll have dead bodies of raped women so that all the evidence is wiped off. Maybe even bodies will be burnt. I see a lose lose situation where the mindset of men is such that they consider women as property to be used and thus owned. How to change their thinking when they have criminal bent of mind. Only thing that can help is speedy trial and convictions.

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      • “I see a lose lose situation where the mindset of men is such that they consider women as property to be used and thus owned”.
        I fully agree with the purple sheep. We can find this kind of attitude even in boys passing out of reputed institutions. You can be sure of one thing…that this kind of mindset is encouraged in the family one is born into. Mothers and grandmothers have an important role to play here. But they too propagate this mindset. Older women in patriarchal families start acquiring power. Instead of misusing their power, they should use it to give equal opportunities and freedom of choice to their girls and thus empower them. This environment will automatically bring about a liberal outlook and not not give birth to rapists.

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    • “…it’s a natural instinct..”
      I guess for those amongst us who don’t have the instinct to touch random women in public transport, we should get ourselves psychiatrically evaluated, since we are obvious aberrations of nature.

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  12. The ‘sensitization’ should also address our masala films that include “item” songs that portray skimpily clad women with suggestive gestures and body language surrounded by salivating, obnoxious men. And these are increasing by the day. I can imagine a guy who does not have the objectivity and rational mind to differentiate between films and reality, think that women in general are objects of lust and should be treated just like the women in such films are treated.
    I would call upon all actresses to refuse to perform such ‘item’ numbers or take on any on any film roles that degrade women – even in small and subtle ways.
    The same applies to advertisements that portray women trying desperately to live up to stupid standards using ‘vaginal whitening creams’, ‘fairness creams’. Also ads implying that the well being of a family (ie: nutrition, laundry, cleanliness of house) is somehow only a woman’s job. These disgusting ads take us back to the stone ages.

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  13. I was repeatedly raped by a relative when I was 8 yrs old. He then went on to threaten my mom if I said anything to anyone. When I gathered the courage to tell my mom, she was furious – at the man who had abused her daughter, and at me. No, not for getting raped, but for believing that she couldn’t handle an ass*ole like him, and for not telling her earlier.
    We wanted to press charges, but didn’t, as my parents didn’t want their 8-yr old daughter go through another trauma. But they made sure that we cut off all relations with the man and his family and his family was told why. (Long story, that)
    I grew up, did reasonably well academically, worked for a while and have now started my own business. I have friends, both male and female. My parents helped me see that not all men are perverts. If I’m not married, it’s because I have not yet found a man I can love, and not because I was raped more than three decades ago. I laugh, I cry, I work, I party, I pray, I LIVE. I challenge anyone who would call me a ‘lash’.

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    • I salute your spirit! We need more people like you. Unfortunately, because of the stigma attached to being raped/sexually assaulted a lot of women actually think it’s better to die.

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  14. This “living corpse” label is the worst any person can do to a rape victim. Do they even think about the implications? It implies that any random, low rapist can turn a breathing, human being into a living corpse by forcing himself on his victim. I call that empowerment of rapists. If they get the idea in their head that they have such power over other humans, neither politicans nor the public should be surprised about rapes since they are always about power. How about for once empowering the victim instead of the rapist?

    The other dangerous implication I see in this “living corpse” statement is the pressure it puts on the victim. It is like society is trying to tell victims that dying is the only “honourable way out of this shame”. What shame? The shame belongs to the rapist, not to the survivor. The last thing a survivor of such a trauma needs is being told that he or she would be better off dead. So dying for someone else’s shame is more socially acceptable than surviving torture and trying to get back to normal life? Meaning, after going through such an ordeal I am supposed to commit suicide, so society is satisfied and doesn’t have to deal with me any longer? I wonder if people would tell the same to survivors of non-sexual torture…

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