There’s no looking back for us from this

#JusticeForAsifa

#Unnao

 

Words fail us, and so we use hashtags.

Words ostensibly failed Prime Minister Narendra Modi too. It took a full four days and national outrage until he finally deigned to comment on the horrific Kathua and Unnao rapes, calling them “incidents”, and pontificating emptily about the brave freedom fighters who fought to give us this nation today.

But here’s the thing, Mr PM. This isn’t that country. These are not incidents.They’re symptoms of the cancer you and your posse of Hindu supremacists, social media trolls and MPs have led the country to.

A country where an eight-year-old girl is sedated, gangraped multiple times and killed, all to drive out a nomadic community – belonging to the wrong religion –from an area.

A country where the Hinduness of her bestial rapists and killers becomes the lynchpin around which elected leaders from your party construct their obstruction of justice.

A country where a gaggle of Hindu lawyers tries to stop police from entering a court to file charges against the accused men.

A country where an elected leader, who is also the rape accused – Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the BJP MLA from Unnao accused of raping a minor Dalit woman – is pictured grinning with impunity outside UP CM Ajay Singh Bisht’s (Yogi Adityanath) office.

A country where that girl’s father dies in judicial custody after she and her family attempt suicide in protest, and not a murmur of protest escapes the throats of the powers-that-be.

Yes there will be candlelight marches, opinion pieces, lament over the state of the nation, and the belated calls to action – eight people have finally been arrested over the Kathua case, including four police officers and a minor; in the Kathua case, allegations against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar are yet to be investigated and the Central Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case.

Meanwhile, we have pictures of an eight-year-old girl who was brutalised, to look at. A reminder of how far we have fallen. A chilling souvenir of the religion, gender and place in the power nexus you need to belong to to live in this India of today. A country without a conscience. One so far from the poetic sentiment Rabindranath Tagore exuded in ‘Where the mind is without fear’ – the kind of poetic mawkishness our PM loves to invoke in his devoted followers on days when it’s convenient to be emotional rather than bluster on and beat his ‘56-inch chest’.

Into this hell, has our country awoken.

 

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Suhashini Thomas

When Suhashini Thomas was just two years old, she was sexually abused by an older male cousin, commencing a series of episodes that would last 15 years! She finally escaped his abuse by putting a physical distance between herself and the abuser.

Years later, after having the chance to connect with her to-be mother-in-law (who is a counsellor), she was able to open up about her experience for the first time. She decided with her now-husband that she would pursue legal action under the newly minted POCSO laws. When that met a dead end due to bureaucratic red tape, Suhashini chose to let go of the case. She got married and moved on to what she assumed was a different life.

However, at a time when she least expected it, after the birth of her son, the memories resurfaced in deeply painful forms and led her to a therapist. As they dug through her history and worked together to create a strategy to combat her post-traumatic stress, Suhashini decided that it was time to share her story with the world. Today, for the first time on camera, Suhashini speaks to Sowmya Rajaram of her difficult journey from victim to survivor.

Videography- Rahul Deshpande | Production- Jacob Cherian & Priyanka Sutaria | Editing- Kartik Rajan

Talk To Us. Tell us your story or help bring the stories of disempowered survivors to a community that cares. We promise to keep every word 100% private and confidential, unless you explicitly wish to share your story with the world. You can also reach us at contact@whyindianmenrape.com.

To show your support for what we do, please CONTRIBUTE and/or PRE-ORDER the books here.

Meghna Prakash

 In this chilling and powerful poem, Meghna draws on personal experiences to address the hypocrisy with which society treats women who have faced sexual violence. 

In this chilling and powerful poem, Meghna draws on personal experiences to address the hypocrisy with which society treats women who have faced sexual violence. 

Section Fuck, Indian Penal Code

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,
The hypocritical hoard of masses
Keen to launch in
For every meaty fight
Relationship
Association
Between a man and a woman.

Trouble is their favourite kind.
Always the first to chew on
Juicy gossip.
The more your life destructs,
The happier they become.

So come, listen to my fable
Maybe you will touch yourself
Hearing of my plight.

Let me tell you stories
Of the men who fucked me
While you watched
In silence.

I am a romantic,
The cliched 3 am poet
Finding muses in broken souls
Feeding of off them
For my art,
Selfishly so.

Oh, I love love.
I love losing myself,
Sensibilities amiss
Until I am knocked out
Senseless, myself.

Ever happened to you?
It’s happened to me.

Oh, I know boys.
Boys of all kinds.
Who mess with your head,
Always the breasts
And painfully,
With your heart.

Let me show you my favourite kind.
The man holding a guitar.
The crazy artist who creates
Symphonies.
Melodies.
Makes you want to press your lips
Against their face
And wrap your legs
Around their waist.

"Guitarists are so good with their fingers."

Sure they are.
He was too,
If only limited
To the rapid movement
Of his plectrum.

He worked his fingers
Tirelessly,
So good on my body
Until my skin camouflaged
With the purple of the sky.

I am brown.
Brown to the ground.
Brown as the dirt
That he kept
Spitting on
Mistaking my face
For the ego
He walked on.

He stretched his fingers.
Coiling around my neck
Choking me,
Until his fingers left a trail,
A little leash
To claim his bitch
As I began to be.

I watched,
As his fingers, beautiful,
Folded tight into a fist
Welcome to the right side
Of my left cheek
Every afternoon
That he needed a stretch.

My face was a warm up exercise.
Count 1,2,3
“Break a nose.”
Count 1,2,3
“Break a toe.”
Count 1,2,3
“Break a spine.”

“Hit her,
Until she can't stand,
Stand to say goodbye.”

His fingers, let's keep at that.

One fine morning,
He decided he was bored,
My face was too disfigured a canvas
To track his progress.
His fingers wanted more.

So, he welcomed my vagina.
My clitoris almost weeped
At his acknowledgement.
Warm white tears
His fingers touched.

I climaxed
With the knot
Of his fingers
Weaving into
My "delicates".

“Handle with care.”
Didn't he know
That he mustn't burn
The tip of my "lady parts"?

Maybe he couldn't hear
All of my screams
In the midst of his fucking me,
That maybe he should stop.
Maybe it hurt.

"It", I say. “It.”
Because my wounds are not his mistake.
It is NEVER the fault of the abuser.
Always the fault of the abused.
Maybe she liked it?”
Why did she stay with him?
Why didn't she do anything?

It wasn't my fault.
I loved him.
It wasn't his fault.
He was a man
Expressing his
Sexuality.
His frustration.

So it is "IT"s fault.
Let's blame this “IT”.

IT, you are a monster.
You first arrived
In the shape of my cousin
Who shoved his dick down my throat.
Sorry, his "manliness" down my throat
That was welcomed by a gash
On the side of my throat,
And a puddle of blood
Mixed with semen.

Bloody white is good.
They should make a drink out of it,
A limited edition for rape victims
And the abused like me.
Drink his semen with your blood.
Special offer.
Double delight.
Double pleasure.
Cash not acceptable.

So you pay with your life.
Pay with your peace of mind.
As if constant reminders
Were even needed.

The taste of blood never changes.
Always salty and terrifying.
My four-year-old self told me about it,
How she was pinned down by my cousin.
And the 20-year-old now agrees
As she is pinned down by her lover.

Oh, and there were other men.

The boys who made me give them a blow-job
When I wasn’t in the mood for a fuck.
How DARE you leave them hanging?
The committed souls
Who have pent up excitement
Contorted fantasies
Of MY body.

Let's not forget,
It is always consensual—
The illusion of choice.
The art of refusing.

His friends must have watched
As he squeezed your breasts
Or groped your thigh.

His friends must have heard
The bragging,
About the handjob in the car,
The quick fuck in the basement.

How DARE you say no
When he respects your wishes,
And when he cannot let you go?

And of course, there is the nice boy
Who says he loves you
Until you fuck him.
And he is gone two times faster
Than the time it took you
To make him cum.

Let me tell you MORE stories,
Of a group of men
In a uniform
I once respected.

Policemen, You are hired.
To protect the ward of the state
I beseech you to shield me.
Yet, your testicles
Spoke before
You could.

How uncaring you were
Of the purple blotches
On my brown body.
And yet, your protection
Was so conditional,
On the more important question
That you wanted even my parents to hear.
"Have you fucked him yet?"

Yes, I have fucked him.
1148 times, to be precise.
In countless positions,
At numerous locations—
Apartments.
Basements.
Motels.
Car Seats.
Bathrooms.
Backstages of music concerts.
Behind your very police station once.

Does that help?
Does my sexual history
Satisfy your curiosity
And justify his "masculinity"?

Not yet, no.
Let's move on to more important matters.
Before we go forward to the sentencing
Of the abuser and defendant MR. XXXXX XXXXXX
(Let's protect his privacy, and forget about mine)
We must now discuss the more prominent issue
Of the woman in question,
The abusee,
The plaintiff.

"What did you do that made him hit you?"
"Did you cheat?"
"Did you fuck his best friend?"
Victim shaming.
Victim blaming.

Of course, it is more essential
That the body of the woman
Comes in question.
Her virtue has already been cancelled out
By the act of her fucking
The very man who beat her senseless.

And the verdict is out.
The abuser is hereby absolved
Of any guilt of abuse,
And threat to bodily harm
Of said plaintiff
And any future cases
Will be null and void
Against the said defendant
On the virtue of his masculinity.

The penis
Must always be worshipped.

The plaintiff is hereby sentenced
To a lifetime of ridicule
For being a pathetic woman,
And staying
With the man who beat her
And a man she supposedly loves.

And thus pronounced,
Is the decision of the jury
That cannot be questioned
For society is always right,
And old laws must never be altered.

The END.

Talk To Us. Tell us your story or help bring the stories of disempowered survivors to a community that cares. We promise to keep every word 100% private and confidential, unless you explicitly wish to share your story with the world. You can also reach us at contact@whyindianmenrape.com.

To show your support for what we do, please CONTRIBUTE and/or PRE-ORDER the books here.

Sonam Mittal

In 2015, Greenpeace India was rocked by allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. At the centre of it all was a blog post written by this former employee.

When Sonam, a multiple-rape survivor, joined Greenpeace at their Bengaluru office in 2012, a senior colleague sexually harassed her. She complained to HR—but her complaint was not taken seriously, although the man was known to be a repeat offender. So when another colleague raped her a year later, she was unable to report it to the police or to her employers. “How could I, when the process had failed me once already?" Depressed, she resigned a few months later.

In February 2015, two years after the assault, she finally gained the courage to speak about the episode on social media, as well as about the systemic violence she had faced. It was a decision that would change her life.

She says that therapy helped her understand that what happened to her was not her fault, and allowed her to go public. She weathered the victim shaming, and has even used the title of a hateful blog written about her—Spoilt Modern Indian Woman—as the name of the feminist collective she started on Facebook. She also founded an NGO called Azaadi that helps organisations develop a proactive approach to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Today, for the first time on camera, the ‘Greenpeace Girl’ speaks to Sowmya Rajaram of her difficult journey from victim to survivor… and activist.

Videography- Rahul Deshpande | Production- Jacob Cherian & Priyanka Sutaria | Editing- Poulomi Roy

Talk To Us. Tell us your story or help bring the stories of disempowered survivors to a community that cares. We promise to keep every word 100% private and confidential, unless you explicitly wish to share your story with the world. You can also reach us at contact@whyindianmenrape.com.

To show your support for what we do, please CONTRIBUTE and/or PRE-ORDER the books here.

Farzana Palathingal

Farzana performs a powerful, honest poem about surviving being raped, titled History Chapters

Flesh is Flesh is Flesh, conceptualized and curated by Why Indian Men Rape and Airplane Poetry Movement, was a performance poetry event held at Nine Fish Art Gallery in Mumbai.

Talk To Us. Tell us your story or help bring the stories of disempowered survivors to a community that cares. We promise to keep every word 100% private and confidential, unless you explicitly wish to share your story with the world. You can also reach us at contact@whyindianmenrape.com.

To show your support for what we do, please CONTRIBUTE and/or PRE-ORDER the books here.

Nandini Varma

Nandini performs a difficult poem titled Loudly Soft Dancing p.2, where she speaks "to the man who spat paan at [her]".

Flesh is Flesh is Flesh, conceptualized and curated by Why Indian Men Rape and Airplane Poetry Movement, was a performance poetry event held at Nine Fish Art Gallery in Mumbai.

Talk To Us. Tell us your story or help bring the stories of disempowered survivors to a community that cares. We promise to keep every word 100% private and confidential, unless you explicitly wish to share your story with the world. You can also reach us at contact@whyindianmenrape.com.

To show your support for what we do, please CONTRIBUTE and/or PRE-ORDER the books here.

Adrienne Thadani


An Indian-American, Adrienne came to Mumbai in 2010 to learn about her roots, fell in love with the country and stayed on as an organic farmer. Around Diwali in 2015, she returned home at night but the front door wouldn’t open. Neither the watchman nor the men he brought—who she assumed were locksmiths—were able to open it. As she sat alone on the landing outside the apartment speaking to friends about where she would stay, one of the men attempted to rape her.

She fought him off and pleaded with him as he dislocated her jaw, banged her head against the floor and broke her fingers, all the while trying to disrobe her. Eventually, she managed to get away, call the lift and stumble into it.

She says she felt strong and powerful after the act—she had caught the perpetrator, got him to the police, got two sets of medical checks, arranged witnesses and, basically, did everything she could to get justice. Two months “of hell” later, owing to the indifference of and difficulties with the law enforcement agencies, she was devastated and depressed. “What is the justice?” she asks.

A year and a half later, she tells Tara* Kaushal of Why Indian Men Rape of her difficult story from victim to survivor, and how she has re-found her voice.

Videography- Amol Kamat Photography | Production- Priyanka Sutaria, Arti Jairaj & Rumit Gambhir | Editing- Dhyey Chitalia & Shailesh Makwana (Picture It Photography)

Talk To Us. Tell us your story or help bring the stories of disempowered survivors to a community that cares. We promise to keep every word 100% private and confidential, unless you explicitly wish to share your story with the world. You can also reach us at contact@whyindianmenrape.com.

To show your support for what we do, please CONTRIBUTE and/or PRE-ORDER the books here.

Survivor Stories

Survivor Stories is for survivors at various stages of healing.

For those at one end of the spectrum, still grappling and guilt and self-blame (don’t!)—here’s a reminder that you are not a statistic (because, #YesAllWomen!) and you are not alone. (PS: The Why Indian Men Rape team is here if you just want to Talk To Us in private, okay?)

There is no one formula, route or time frame to healing. Meet those able and willing to talk about their experiences (because the blame-shame is not theirs to bear); who are ‘accidental activists’ by just being their wonderful, empowered selves. Also be inspired by individuals at the other end of the spectrum, who have galvanised their personal experiences of violence into action, art and activism, affecting a grander societal transformation.

These are real stories, served with a generous dose of TLC.

Talk To Us. Tell us your story or help bring the stories of disempowered survivors to a community that cares. We promise to keep every word 100% private and confidential, unless you explicitly wish to share your story with the world. You can also reach us at contact@whyindianmenrape.com.

To show your support for what we do, please CONTRIBUTE and/or PRE-ORDER the books here.