Posted on: December 29, 2012

They aren’t releasing her name, but calling her Damini. She died “peacefully.” Bullshit. There was nothing peaceful about the rape she suffered at the hands of her countrymen.  They used their bodies and an iron rod, so brutally that they damaged her internal organs. Then they threw her out of a moving bus. Peaceful is the last fucking thing it was.

The thing is, I don’t know why her case captivated the country. I’m glad it has, but why? Because it was so brutal? Maybe. But this story happens every day in India, and many other places –  a woman who went to a movie is at the mercy of others for the sole reason that she’s a girl. Where just being born a girl, the ‘wrong’ gender, can be a reason for a death sentence.

My religion – the probable religion of Damini, her friend that was with her, as well as her rapists/murders – is a supposed peaceful one. We pray to Gods and Goddesses. MULTIPLE GODDESSES. Different forms of the Mother. We pray for life and love and peace and education. We are taught to pray to be good and kind. We ask for forgiveness for our mistakes and hope for a better life in the next reincarnation.

And yet, again and again there are stories just like this. “Eve teasing” is common place. It’s not taken seriously because “boys will be boys.”  But at the same time, there are women-only cars on trains, because that’s the only way to feel safe.

The contradictions in Indian society are so confusing – women are treated as incapable of being on their own, yet Indira Gandhi was voted in as Prime Minister during a time when women weren’t even considered suitable for such a high office in developed countries. How is this the same country? How do people (men) go to temple and worship the various Goddesses and then turn around and assault a woman who was just trying to go home? How do parents birth a child, and then kill her when she had the audacity to be born a girl?  How can you believe that God creates every life yet the one of a baby girl was the wrong one?

When I was still in-utero, my mom went in for her check-up. Her doctor, an Indian woman, asked my mom if she wanted to know the sex of the baby. My mom said she did, and this was the doctor’s response – knowing that my parents already had a girl at home, and I was conceived 6 years later:

If this baby’s a girl, we won’t do an abortion for you here. We just want you to know that.

My mom said they weren’t even considering that, and just wanted a healthy baby. They got me. And 2 years later, they got the boy they really wanted. I’m the middle child purely because I wasn’t a boy – but they love me just as equally as my sister and my brother. (I like to think they love me a bit more because I’m the best ;))  But, that was 1977 in America. How many other women, soon-to-be moms, had asked for an abortion for the baby girl they were carrying?

Most Hindus know the story of Ram Bhagvan and Sita Mata. To recap – he was exiled, and his twin brother and Sita Mata followed him into the jungle. Sita Mata got captured by Ravan (the devil) and Ramji spent years looking for her. He rescues her, defeats Ravan and returns to Ayodha – the way out of the jungle being marked by lit candles (and this is why we light deevos/candles/string lights at Diwali.)

So it’s all good, right? He comes back and the golden age of India (Rama Rajya) starts. This is the basic story we’re all taught.

It wasn’t until I took a Hindu religion class in college that I learned the rest of the story. It’s not such a happy ending. After having been captured by Ravan, Sita lived/waited for Ramji to find and rescue her. She protected her chastity while being held. This part of the story is also always shared.

When she was rescued and they returned to rule, whispers started about her and how long she’d been with Ravana. “How could she have stayed pure?” asked the villagers. And Ramji started to listen to those whispers. And he asked her about it and she defended herself. And he kept asking. So finally, she told him she would prove it – and if she had been faithful and true, as she claimed, Mother Earth would open up and swallow her whole. And that’s what happened. And soon after, without her, Ramji gave up his human form as well.

I wasn’t taught that part – I don’t know if any of my friends were, but I remember being shocked when I learned about it. It makes sense though – our entire religious beliefs include the male and female consorts. BOTH genders are represented and equally important. The allegory of that story is so clear – without her, he couldn’t exist either. Without woman, what is man?

So then, how does an entire fucking country get it all wrong, so often? Where did we go wrong culturally when it’s in our daily prayers and teachings that women matter? That women are just as important as men? Yet babies are thrown away for not being boys. Women are raped and left for dead. How?

I have no answers, obviously. Just a lot of questions. I hope Damini didn’t die in vain. I hope there is real change. I don’t think there will be, but I pray I’ll be surprised this time.


8 Responses to "Damini"

Great piece.
It is such an awful way for a life to end. Just vile that things like this are common place.
I pray things will change but unfortunately the current leaders (not facing the problem for days, likening rape to men’s pockets being picked, advising women to carry red chillie powder for safety) don’t give me much hope of there being much of a shift in attitudes 😦

Exactly! And it’s all over the world – the Swaziland government just passed a law that it’s illegal to wear ‘tempting’ clothing (miniskirts, low tops), basically stating that women are enticing rape. 😦 Like you said, B Girl, I don’t have much hope either.

Im an Indian myself and I can say without any hesitation that this rape incident has shocked me like nothing before. I almost felt ashamed at being a citizen of a nation where women are being targeted in such heinous and unthinkable ways. But I feel that the Indian youth is now taking things seriously and genuinely want a change. The most important change must come in the Indian political system.

I am a student from Mumbai. I like your blog. I like to read a lot. I’ve just recently started blogging myself, which means my blog is just in its baby stages. 😉 Hey, please check out my blog and comment–>

Thanks so much for stopping by and I’ll definitely check out your writings! I agree that the change has to come from within the system – people do things they think they can get away with. Why do you think this case in particular has captured everyone’s attention?

This case in particular has captured everyone’s attention because it was just horribly brutal. The poor victim was beaten with iron rods and they even tried to pull out her intestines out (and I can’t even imagine how, but I’m saying this because I read it in the press). Its just horrible. I can’t talk more about it. 😦

Is this incident being talked about in UK as well?

I’m in the USA, and it was headline news on CNN (online edition) – I assume due to the protests, it’s being covered everywhere.

I figured it did capture all the world’s attention. I just hope people don’t treat this incident as a stereotype for India, coz such things can happen anywhere in the world.

Wow, your from US, cool! My dad’s there is US too. Where you from in US?

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