It’s Really Not About Sex

I wrote a piece last year about violence against women in Delhi and the writing of it was painful, but it ended with hope.

Now being back here, writing about the same thing, the little hope I had has gone. Last Tuesday, on the eve of the International Women’s Day, a girl my age was raped and burned to death and… I can’t. I meant to write this one poetically balanced, the way I love to write, but I just do not have the patience.

It’s really not about sex. It’s not about what real men do or do not do. Honestly I couldn’t care less about real men. As far as I’m concerned rapists seem quite real and tangible.

If you look up this story, the only thing you will be sure of is that every article and every paper seem to have a different story about what happened to the girl in Tigri Village but they all end the same. He (the police still don’t know who exactly) raped her and then “allegedly” doused her in gasoline and set her on fire. She died the next day. They all agree on that.

You know what ought to be a dirty word? Entitlement.

You know what makes my already burning blood boil? The fact that there are men who think they are owed what does not belong to them. A girl’s smile, a girl’s number, a girl’s time, a girl’s attention, her respect, her submission, her body and, if it was something that could be taken, they’d want her very soul.

My thoughts about the way the world treats women have gone past fear and cheap anger. Born in me now is a rage and fury too old and too deep for me to be feeling. I think about evil that no child should ever have to.

But if I didn’t, I’d be an irresponsible teenager, wouldn’t I?

I have to ask though, why are you being irresponsible adults? If you had talked about rape, if you hadn’t made these words taboo, if you had done what you were supposed to do and helped make the world a better place, children like me wouldn’t have to.

I can count on my fingers the number of adults in my life who are doing their bit. The rest of them are self-involved, apathetic and violently patronising.

There are people my age who in the next few years are going to be leaving home and going out into the world.

Some of us are going to learn and impact other people powerfully and for the better. Because we are not yet set in our ways like a lot of our mentors are, we are going to change for the better too.

There are some of us tithing our youth to end the creeping darkness that our teachers did not protect us from.

There are some of us growing into women and men that will labour mostly in vain, not because we will not work hard enough, but because our goals are the size of the sun.

What’s happening in Delhi, in India and in the world is awful and bloody and wrong. And you are not doing anything to stop it.

When you talk about rape and harassment, don’t just do it quietly and only with the girls. Boys have to know what happens and that it can happen to all women.

Consent works both ways and your sweet smart, sons have to learn that there are some things that do not belong to them.

Because of the way you are leaving your city-depraved and misogynistic-without trying to change it, your sweet, smart daughters will never really know the freedom that belongs to them.

You may have borrowed this world and its dangerous streets from your children, but right now, it belongs to you.

Don’t disappoint them anymore.

Author: Rhea Talitha
Author: Rhea Talitha
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