It has been more than a week since the vet from Hyderabad was raped and murdered. I know this doesn’t make for a palatable Saturday read when you are unwinding and looking for ways to shed off the week that’s gone by. But the dread has seeped inside every pore of my body and it refuses to go away.

If there is anything worse than the heinous crime, it’s the cacophony that surrounds it. A minister resorts to shift the blame on the victim, saying she should have dialled 100 while an MP suggests lynching the rapists. For some the religion of the rapists seems to be the bigger issue while the state’s police assume that they can wash their hands off it by issuing an advisory on how not to get raped! When shall we get past these ridiculous, bordering on stupid, knee jerk reflexes? But of course, it’s simpler to divert and dilute the issue than do something constructive. My sincere request to all of you is to just shut your mouth up. Don’t give us grief that we can do without.

As women express their rage and despair, I do see some men stand with them in solidarity. Not all men, mind you, because that is a hash tag reserved to counter #MeToo. I find myself thanking the well-meaning men when they put up posts supporting women or exhorting men. And I wonder, what am I thanking them for? Men should have been doing it all along but they haven’t and that’s because men don’t get it.

They can never understand why women react so sharply sometimes to their innocuous jokes. They don’t get it that these jokes act as a trigger for all those memories that women have been consciously or subconsciously burying in the deep crevices of their mind. When men pass flirtatious comments, they wonder why women are not flattered. Why are they getting ‘hyper’ or ‘hysterical’? In their defence, they claim they haven’t caused any harm.

When women share their experiences about assaults and molestation, men shake their heads in disagreement. They just don’t get it what it is like to be touched inappropriately, to be ogled at, to feel naked while fully clothed. They don’t get it what women go through when they have to travel at odd hours or to unknown places. They don’t get what it is like to live your life in fear- first your own and then your daughter’s.

Every time some mishap occurs, a list of don’ts is issued- by the parents, the society, the administration- all in the name of safety. The list just keeps getting longer but the incidents don’t stop. On one hand you want us to pre-empt every move of yours and take preventive steps and on the other hand you question why we are forever suspicious of your moves. Odd, isn’t it?

To all those who love to scuttle to the safety of #NotAllMen, please stop. If you can, then try to do something constructive. Mend your ways and mind your words. And pull up those around you. If you can’t do it then stay away. Because we have been told and made to understand that men don’t get it. Allow us to make peace with your ignorance.

PS: As I finish writing this, notifications flash on my phone- ‘the Unnao rape survivor has been burnt alive by one of the accused who was let out on bail.’ I don’t even want to hear the reactions to this one. I give up!

-Dr. Shivani Salil

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