Dear Rani Mukherji,
First, thanks for trying to ruin all the conversations on women empowerment in 2018 India. Despite the several conversations around #MeToo, despite your old and young colleagues accusing your male colleagues of sexual harassment, despite the fact that it took them so long to speak up, you just proved that patriarchy is ingrained in men and women alike. You just explained why the Oxford Dictionary chose ‘toxic’ as the word of the year.
Like every year, Rajeev Masand called for a round-table conference of Bollywood’s biggest female stars: Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Alia Bhatt, Tabu, Rani Mukerji and Tapsee Pannu. Big names, and much celebrated. But we are doubting the ‘celebrated’ part now. When the topic of sexual harassment within Bollywood came up, Rani had a perspective so twisted and illogical that we can bet she must have had chowmein before the show. The Hichhki star was pretty adamant that it is women who need to change. “If they don’t want it to happen it will not happen,” she screamed. Then, instead of pointing the finger at men, she said women should “take responsibility for themselves”. She became the champion of martial arts and said all schools must make it compulsory for girls to take defense classes. In her own words, the women who are getting harassed “those are the women we need to talk to and say yaar you need to change”.
The expressions of actors at that roundtable pretty much summarised all our emotions.
— Aniruddha Guha (@AniGuha) December 30, 2018
But Rani didn’t stop. Even when Deepika and Alia tried to intervene and explain to her that women are often not in a position to do martial arts, she kept throwing her hands around (Apparently they were martial art moves) and made karate chop sounds.
If you are a woman, you must already be exhausted explaining colleagues, relatives, strangers on the road, Tinder dates, a man who came to your party uninvited and several other folks why it is not okay to victim blame women. I, for one, thought that at least the #MeToo conversation would instill some sense in people. Alas, I was hoping for too much. So it’s exhausting to explain why Rani’s logic is plain stupid. So, I decided to make a list for Rani and all the people who believe women are to be blamed for sexual harassment.
Here are some of the horrific news stories from 2018 where women were sexually assaulted.
1. In January, an eight-year-old girl from a minority nomadic community was allegedly kidnapped, drugged, tortured, gang-raped and eventually killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district. According to the charge sheet, eight people including a minor raped this eight-year-old.
2. A three-year-old is in critical condition after she was allegedly raped by her neighbour in the capital city of Delhi. The accused, a 40-year-old security guard who worked in the building the child lived in, has been arrested. the sixth anniversary of the brutal gang-rape of a student on a Delhi bus.
3. A case was registered against a 40-year-old man for allegedly raping his 13-year-old daughter in Rajasthan’s Jhalawar district.
4. An 11-year-old girl from Chidimbu village under Dainadubi outpost in North Garo Hills was allegedly raped on multiple occasions by her stepfather. The rape was discovered by the mother of the victim who, upon questioning the girl, learned of the truth and informed authorities on the matter, leading to the arrest of the step-father.
5. In June this year, a senior nun alleged rape by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the head of the Latin diocese of Jalandhar. What followed was a vortex of the worst crisis that the church had encountered in recent times. The nun alleged that she was sexually assaulted multiple times since May 2014 at the church’s guest house in Kuruvilangad. She further said that she had approached the church hierarchy but her repeated pleas were ignored, after which she decided to go the police. The Mulakkal case goes to trial next year. And so does the faith.
6. A man was awarded death sentence by a special court earlier this month for raping and killing his six-year-old daughter. The 42-year-old accused suspected his wife’s character and believed the victim was not his biological child. He raped the girl and later hanged her with the help of a stole.
7. A five-year-old girl was raped by five persons in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district. After committing the crime, they threatened the girl of dire consequences if she informed anyone. They were arrested later.
8. Five men were arrested in Kerala’s northern district of Kannur for raping and sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl. The father of the minor was also among those under custody after police registered a case of gang-rape on a complaint filed by the girl’s mother.
9. Four Army jawans were booked in October for allegedly raping a speech and hearing impaired 30-year-old woman over a span of four years at the military hospital in Khadki near Pune.
10. At least thirty rape survivors of a government-sponsored children’s home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur are suffering from severe trauma and tried to inflict injuries and kill themselves. In all, 42 inmates were residing in Muzaffarpur based ‘Balika Grih’ run by NGO Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, owned by a small-time journalist and local strongman Brajesh Thakur, who along with nine others were arrested after a Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) social audit report blew the lid off the organized sexual exploitation of inmates. The medical investigation has confirmed at least 24 girls, all minors and one as young as seven, were raped and physically tortured. Apart from revealing the grave sexual exploitation, the medical examination of the girls also showed they had burn and cut marks all over their bodies. The reports said they were regularly tortured.
11. A 100-year-old woman was brutally raped allegedly by a 20-year-old youth in the middle of the night in West Bengal’s Nadia district. The culprit from the Gangaprasadpur area has been arrested and has reportedly confessed, saying he committed the crime under the influence of alcohol.
12. Two minor sisters, aged one and four years, respectively, were allegedly abducted and raped in Indore city of Madhya Pradesh. The two girls were abducted Friday night when they were asleep with their parents inside a make-shift hut at a construction site in MG Road area. The girls’ father works as a watchman at the construction site. The girls were found near the hut in a brutalised condition the next morning.
The list is endless. But here’s a question for Rani Mukherji– Were any of them in a situation to show off their karate moves?