See what a good man Tarun Tejpal is? He didn’t wait for a judge, he straightaway sentenced himself to six months off from work for sexually molesting a young co-worker. Wow! Aren’t you impressed! He owned up. He apologised. He went public.
But what difference does that make? He did it. Just like all those other cabbages and kings down the ages. Find a woman, attack her, use her, humiliate her, feel great. How else do you explain it?
There’s no lack of education or sophistication. There’s no lack of knowledge and travel. There’s no lack of opportunity or success. There’s no lack of fame and fortune. Remember Nirbhaya? Even as we howled and despaired, there were others whose stories we barely heard, and others we didn’t even know about.
The irony in the name is chilling: how dare we presume that the person being raped will be or, worse, should be fearless? When even a gaze makes you uncomfortable, afraid? Ask your daughters, they will tell you. Ask your mothers: if they are honest they will tell you.
Ask the person sitting next to you if he or she knows somebody or of anybody who felt uncomfortable in someone’s company, somebody or of anybody who was sexually harassed or molested, somebody or of anybody who was abused, raped.
I need more than two hands to count the number of people I know, in my inner circle of family, friends and the neighbourhood. It’s bigger than we think, and closer than we imagine. It’s right next door, if not inside our homes.
So, no matter how much noise is made, no matter what legislation is passed, no matter how many candles are lit, they will all blow out. That’s the nature of the beast. It’s indecent. It’s shameless. It flashes. It stalks. It is everywhere. And when we meet it, the only help is luck. And who can guarantee that?
An image comes to mind, though. Of Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky who recently nailed his scrotum to Red Square. A newspaper reported him as saying: “It was my appeal to society. It’s not the authorities who hold people by their balls. It’s the people themselves.” It’s up to us to nail this beast.