Rape is the only crime in which the victim’s name and identity are hidden from the media. Why?
Consider this… You go out of your house one day and get stabbed and killed by a person…. Or, to make it less alarming, you get stabbed and you survive… When the media reports this news, your identity is not kept a secret. But if this was different, and if you go out of the house and you got raped, your name will forever be hidden from the media.
Now in both these cases, you suffered a crime in which you had no responsibility. It could have happened to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Just like an accident. But in one, your name is not kept a secret, in the other one, it is kept a secret. It is kept a secret to ‘protect’ the rape victim, or a more appropriate term would be a rape survivor. But protect from what? The answers would be ‘shame’ and ‘victim blaming’.
Rape is the only crime in which the victim is not given sympathy but shame and questions. It was like any other violent crime, like murder or physical assault. But the word ‘shame’ is not attached to murder. You don’t need to feel ashamed that someone stabbed you to death. But you need to be in shame if you were raped. If your body was violated that way…
The female body is considered to be ‘sacred’ and ‘pure’ and here the notion is that its purity is forever gone once a strange man have had violated her sexually. She has become ‘impure’, and the need to live in the shame of that for the rest of her life. She is now a person to be protected and the crime that happened against her should be kept a secret. Forever.
Will we hide a murder? A theft? Or a stabbing incident? No. But why hide rape? Why is the word ‘protect the victim’ even associated with this crime?
Because society still looks at a rape survivor as if her honour is now lost. Like something so terrible happened to her that now she will never be able to lead a normal life again. That is not true. Yes, indeed something very horrible happened to her. It is mentally and physically traumatic enough to affect her for a lifetime. But we as a society should not be forcing her into hiding her identity and behaving as if she should feel shame for what happened. We should not be covering her up for her protection, but instead, be encouraging her to come back to society and fight for justice.
But it is something we cannot expect yet from society and the rape victim’s name is hidden from the masses exactly because of that. Because we still cannot expect this society to accept the rape victims as the victim of a violent crime and not associate any ‘shame’ with them. The victim needs to lead a life the same as before and that is possible only if the world does not know what happened to her. For if the world knows what happened to her, they will never look at her in the same way as before.
And not just this. In many cases, the victim will be blamed. Why was she out at that time? Why did she dress that way? These questions will be asked, and her character would be questioned. We hide the identity of the rape survivor to protect her from these questions as well. But in the first place, why are we asking her these questions?
Hiding the identity of a rape survivor is not a law that just exists in India. It is all across the globe. Even in developed countries, this exists to ‘protect’ the victim from the public’s eyes. That explains to us that even in developed countries the situation is not really better.
Can’t there exist a world where a rape survivor does not have to hide her identity and she is not at all viewed differently from before? But alas… that world seems like an impossibility at this point and hence we need to continue to hide the rape survivors’ names to protect them.