While some people strive to be heroes, a few others turn into heroes due to their torturous, unfair, and painful life. Aruna Shaunbaug was one such hero, who fell in the latter category. She was a beautiful hero, who probably preferred not to be one. She was a hero, who probably wanted a simpler life, or death, perhaps.
Was this heroism worth suffering for? No.
But, can we learn from it and help million others like her? Yes.
Aruna Ramchandra Shaunbaug, for several years, was just another person. A beautiful 25-year old girl, who made a living by looking after the sick and assisting doctors. She was a nurse and an average Indian woman, who probably wished to have a good career, be married to a well-settled guy, and spend the rest of her days in the comfort of her home.
But, she didn’t get any of that!
Instead, what she got was unimaginable pain and a life in a country where everything loses against the will of a rapist. Some would say that her stars didn’t quite agree to her happy life and her fate decide to take a beating.
But, like John Green rightly quote in his book, “In the end, we can blame the stars or tell ourselves that it wasn’t meant to be, that it wasn’t destined to happen. But, deep down, we knew the stars weren’t at fault and that it wasn’t “meant to be”. The fault was in ourselves.”
In Aruna’s case, the fault was in the human race and the laws we made. What was Aruna’s fault? Well, if you think of it, she had just one. That she was a woman! A woman, who didn’t fathom the turn her life would take, just because some man, somewhere, decided to shed off his humanity and the lawmakers decided to stay mute to her agony.
While we all know what happened to Aruna during her long ordeal with life and death, does anyone even remember Sohanlal Valmiki? I don’t think so. I forgot him too. Over the years, his name was just added to the list of “a rapist that never was”. No one knows where he is, no one knows where he went. He saw the insides of a jail for a few years, but not for rape. Instead, he was tried for another case of attempted murder and robbery. Boggles your mind, isn’t it?
There she was, withering away in pain, and he did not even get tried for a crime that he committed. Everybody decided to stay mum and the only one who could tell the truth was left lifeless, letting another rapist walk free in our “just” world.
With a country full of efficient lawmakers and an apparently strong police force, a ward boy, who decided to destroy a perfectly healthy, happy life, walked away with no remorse and no punishment. They performed virginity tests and dismissed the case when any test could have determined that she was sodomized and chained like a dog. The image itself disturbs the very core of your body, isn’t it?
When cases like this surface, how can we even begin to talk about what is fair and what is not? How can we begin to put our trust into the law, who sees everything with just one eye open? How do we begin to fathom out the fate of this country, who tags a rape victim its daughter year after year and conveniently forgets the rapist as if he were an invisible force.
Will we forget once again? Will we have one more India’s daughter, who was tortured in life and left helpless in death?
I say no more! It’s time to learn, to come together and to fight men who don’t remember the meaning of being a human. Speak up and don’t worry about the society’s view of your reputation. Don’t be afraid to ask. Because, in this heartless world, there are still a few who’ll stand up for you, like they did for Aruna.
For Aruna and for a million others like her. For you and I! Speak up and fight against rape and rapists.
Note: I didn’t discuss the ongoing debate on Euthanasia because that topic requires a light of its own. I don’t want that to overshadow the issue of rape and rape-related laws. I wanted to bring the focus back to the inequalities that our law reflects on rape victims. While the victim is doomed to the fate of their stars, the accused gets to choose and make his own.