A woman raped – why disowned?
So I was writing a term paper on Ice-Candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa, and one of the themes of the novel was female suffering at the time of the partition of the subcontinent. Now this suffering doesn’t just mean that the women and girls were losing their loved ones, but that they were losing themselves; losing control over their own bodies. The entire book was full of incidents of rape and molestation of young girls. In order to hurt a man, one needs to hurt his pride: his women – Hindus raping Muslim women, Sikhs raping Muslim women, Muslims raping Hindu and Sikh women. It was all very brutal but even more unfortunate was that the families of the raped women refused to accept these non-virgin women, because they would prove to be dishonorable to the family. And that disowning of a raped woman is what I’ll be focusing on in this article today.
This reprehensible act’s roots lie in our society’s custom to brush anything sex-related under the rug. I feel that this is a practice still present in some tribal and urban societies of Pakistan, where a family refuses to accept a raped woman as part of the family. What I don’t understand is how it becomes a woman’s fault after all. It’s not like these women ask to be abused or are actually committing adultery and just making the man appear bad. I take this as a very important issue and it stems from the silence that all adults appropriate when any idea involving sex comes up. Everyone needs to accept that sex happens, but nobody is to talk about one’s own sexuality and the baseness of human’s id instincts. By doing so, not only do we ignore the problems associated with sex, but also the fact that grave injustices happen with women simply because we are not supposed to talk about sex.
The way these women are generally treated by our community after molestation just adds more salt to the wounds. There is a certain trauma attached to being raped or molested, and that is the idea of losing control over your own body despite all resistance and then actually feeling pleasure from something that you detest. I do not understand why people would disown their girl after she has been through such trauma, it only adds to more misery. Imagine bearing a child out of wedlock, against your own will. At such a time one needs support, one needs a family, and if you are denied all that, it is just the most horrible thing a woman could go through. A raped woman would be inadequate in our society; she would not be accepted and would never be able to marry. She is barred from all happiness of a normal life which is incredible pain that she has to go through. I’m amazed at the heartlessness of people who carry out things like honour killings on their own women. It’s just shameful and in this time and age, we need to view such things very differently.
However, this is not a lost cause; there is still hope for a better future for such victims. One way to bring about a change would be for the society to start accepting to talk about sex more openly and discussing human sexuality more openly, because due to all the hush-hush there could be girls who actually don’t even realize how horrible is the experience that they are being forced to go through in the form of rape. If they are made to understand and realize the worth and importance of their own chastity then they would be able to better take care of themselves, and offer more resistance to any of the men who are trying to subjugate them physically. Apart from this families need to treat any girls who have been through such an experience with greater care and tend to their psychological traumas rather than marginalizing them like they are trash. They need to realize that their daughters and sisters do not call for things like this to be done to them, rather these things can happen to any girl, even the most innocent. The girls just need some support and understanding from the members of their family because otherwise it would be unfair on one’s own conscience to do away with them in order to put on an act protect one’s own honour. So it’s high time our society shuns these pretences and actually embraces such a woman for all that she is, for all that she will be; for who knows, just the simple act of acceptance might end up saving lives.