24 Hours (and an announcement)

As on June 20, 2013, New Delhi alone has recorded 860 cases of rape. (Note: Those are only the documented cases.)

That is a little over twice the incidence of the first six months of last year. And this doubling of the rate of rape comes against the backdrop of the horrific gang-rape of late December; the enormous public outcry and protests triggered by that incident; the sweeping recommendations of an inquiry committee expressly set up to explore how to reduce the incidence of rape; and the oft-expressed intent of both police and polity to make the world — or at least, Delhi —  safe for women.

Guess what? Nothing has changed — unless you call ‘getting worse’ change. Here is the excellent Nisha Susan (@chasingiamb) on what it feels like to be a woman, what it feels like to know that rape is not a question of ‘whether’ but only ‘when’:

That moment sneaks up on you. The moment passes and you go back to unconsciously arranging your life around avoiding this one crime. Every time you hear footsteps behind you, every time you open your front door, every time you walk through a basement parking lot, every time you turn into a dark street, you wonder – Is this the one? Is this how it’s going to happen? As comedian Ever Mainard says, “The problem is that every woman has that one moment when you think, here’s my rape! This is it. OK, 11:47 pm, how old am I? 25? All right, here’s my rape! It’s like we wait for it, like, what took you so long?”

For some of us – for at least 24,923 documented Indian women in 2012 alone – there has come that other unfortunate, jolting moment when you have been raped.

Three out of four times, you are likely to have been raped by someone familiar, someone familial: your uncle comes to drop off a tiffin box and stays to chase you round the house, breaking everything you try to hide behind, pulling the landline wire out of the wall. Your brother-in-law tries to rape you when you are five months pregnant. Your former husband decides that divorce isn’t quite enough. Thesarpanch of your village. Your nephew. Your brother’s friend. Your brother. Your father.

Here is your rape. It has come. And here comes that epiphany. The realization that you have been warned about this moment your whole life but still don’t know what you are supposed to do afterwards.

So what are you supposed to do? What can you do? What must you do?

In a timeless piece designed for Everywoman, Nisha Susan provides answers. Read — and do circulate, because this really, really, needs to be part of every woman’s knowledge-base.

Which brings me to the announcement promised in the parenthesis. Starting today, the team of Nisha Susan and Gaurav Jain will on behalf of Yahoo India commission, edit, illustrate and publish one medium-to-longform article, on a topic of contemporary interest, at the rate of one on each of the five working days of the week.

Got ideas, tips, suggestions, comments? Contact:

Nisha Susan: @chasingiamb

Gaurav Jain: @mau_mauing


3 thoughts on “24 Hours (and an announcement)

  1. Adam’s apple suggestion will work when there is just one rapist. Not when there 8-9 as was the case in the Delhi bus rape. Plus, when you have so many leering men around, for a girl to be this calm and composed is not practical. Fear and disgust make people react differently.

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  3. Hi Prem,
    This was something I had started a few weeks after the December rape and left it half way. More than what should be done after being raped, if the girls can be advised on how to prevent rape, I think it would be more helpful. Maybe Susan & co can develop on this theme.

    I don’t know if you would let the whole thing go on as a comment, but if you think prevention is better than dusting up, you/your team can draw freely on this. If even one woman can use any of this to escape rape, good enough!
    I am appalled by the obsession of the Indian public with, on the one hand, post-rape punitive measures from hanging to chemical castration as deterrents to rape, and on the other hand, fulminations against those nincompoops who advocate saamam as the only deterrent needed, instead of more proactive ways to prevent rape, specifically penetrative rape.

    Disclaimer: I am no self-defence expert; I have not tried these out for wholesome efficacy; if you have a weak stomach, would rather be raped that commit some violence, would rather be touched than touch, would rather be hurt than cause hurt, go no further. Stop here.

    During the days of my youth, an urban legend in our city was about a lady lawyer who had got her client, a rapist, acquitted by merely showing up at the court and twirling a sewing needle between her thumb and forefinger while trying to thread it with the other hand, a take-off on the hoary defence of the rapist that a ‘moving needle cannot be threaded’. Napoleon also, apocryphally, seems to have used the same line of defence with a woman who approached him alleging rape by one of his soldiers. He is said to have taken out his sword, swished it a couple of times, and put it back, implying ‘a sword cannot be sheathed without the scabbard knowing it.’

    However, against the greater physical strength of a man, there is little a woman or a girl can do. Or can she?

    Here’s a look at some of the defences a woman can adopt. I hope the levity, if any, in my words will not detract from the seriousness with which this is written. If by adopting any of this, even one rape can be prevented, that is one less traumatic experience in this bad, bad world.

    The Golden Rule if you are in a situation where you are going to be taken forcibly by a man is NOT to struggle (We’ll come to the asinine laws of this country which require proof that you fought tooth and nail, etc. later) or try to fight off the rapist. There are a number of reasons for this.

    Unless you are a triathlete in mid-season form, a man will always outlast you in stamina; the more you struggle, the faster you will tire and render yourself incapable of landing critical blows or running away if the opportunity is created or presents itself. Moreover, the man is expecting you to struggle and if you do not, it disarms him somewhat and also puts him off guard so that whatever you have to do to get yourself out of his clutches will be easier to carry out than when you are writhing and pinned down. Also, a writhing body is often accompanied by a seething mind which incapacitates cool and lucid thinking. I cannot overemphasise enough the need to, therefore, not struggle. On the contrary, it would be better to show some amount of acquiescence at the beginning to get into a position to launch the assault and battery.

    Non-violent means

    If the moronic suggestion of Baparam Asu (Namaste and pranaam, mere bhai, do you realise that you are just about to commit the great sin of incest, you b******d? So cease and desist.) has been given a fair try and has only been met with derisive laughter and molestation with renewed vigour, then move on to some psychological warfare.

    A man doesn’t often realise that his most import sex organ is the brain and not the dangler with which he’s aiming to violate you. At the same time, every male is insecure about the size of his member – more men peer over the separations at public urinals than say, at a décolletage. If the protestations, more verbal and less physical, have not had the desired effect, and you are about to be ravished, then glance, no, stare with all the incredulity you can summon on your face at his genitals (when you are about to be raped is not the time to be shy or coy), and start giggling, pointing at it, and, depending on your level of education and crudity of language practised in your household, you should, between the giggles, say, “Are you really planning to do me with that tiny thing, just a little bigger than a HPS Bold 16/18 peanut?” Continue to point and giggle. He will be deflated in more ways than one…

    If you have giggled convincingly enough, he would be devastated, not just deflated. [This can be very effective in case of marital rape also, where the effects of this giggling and finger-pointing can be longer lasting. So, this should be used judiciously lest when you want to do a restitution of conjugal rights to your partner, his mojo is more or less permanently AWOL.]

    The next one in the Gandhian method is what I would call the Two Finger Puke (to be distinguished from the Two Finger Poke which follows in the more violent means section).

    Any hooch drinker will tell you that when the fire-water imbibed is spurious and is generally creating havoc inside him, the easiest way to relief is to insert the index and middle fingers into the mouth and touch the back of the throat for a couple of seconds. The effect is dramatic and instantaneous. You’ll gag, retch, and vomit. Mothers in my time and age, used to suggest this to their children with severe indigestion. Possibly this is what anorexic bulimics also do?

    As a rape antidote this is an excellent technique. Here, do you see the need not to struggle and have your hands held in vice like grips? Once the intent of the would-be rapist is clear, put the Two finger Puke into action. Even the most randy, hardy rapist will be turned off by the smell of vomit – the attempt should be not only to vomit on the front of one’s own clothes, but stretch out and let your by-now confounded rapist have the next load of vomit on his own shirt front. To be fully effective, the third tranche should be taken in your palms and applied on your face and if possible flung at the face of the would-be rapist.

    If after reading all this you are feeling squeamish and getting ready to dismiss me as a freak, pause to consider whether you would prefer to give clothes for dry cleaning and have a good bath later or whether a bloodied hymen and a violated psyche, which perhaps will never be fully scrubbed clean, are more desirable.

    If the would-be rapist would send you off to clean yourself, or goes away to have himself cleaned, you are presented with an opportunity to lock yourself in the bathroom, or lock him out, or prepare a mug soap-water and splash it across his face temporarily blinding him, etc. This gives you enough time to think about escaping, calling for help without being silenced, etc. If the soap water can be used and he is blinded, there are many ways he can be incapacitated for which refer to the Violent means section below.

    A little violence won’t hurt anyone

    Once, by not struggling and staying composed, you have given the impression that he will not have to use force, you have to be alert to the opportunities that will eventually come, like bad balls after you have defended and kept away all the good ones, to use a cricket analogy.

    You also are not tired out and have all your strength about you to deliver the coup de grace.

    There are only four areas where a man is vulnerable, starting from head to toe – but not necessarily in the order of the amount of pain that can be inflicted – and these are the eyes, throat, testicles, and shin bones.

    We will start with the Two Finger Poke, which is used, I am told, in street fighting. The execution should be fast and done with before he realises what is happening. If you are feeling prudish about even showing some intimacy, then probably, you shall have to take hold of his hands and hold them and pat them (ideal would be to take both his hands and put them on your breasts so that he is convinced that you are not resisting and use your hand to close his eyes as if you are feeling bashful) and then draw back your favourite hand and take them behind your head as if adjusting your hair, close the ring and little fingers, keep the index and middle fingers stiff and as far apart as possible, forming a V like the tines of a fork and drive it with all the force you can muster into the eyes of your tormentor. This is not the time for half measures. You need good follow through. To understand what is follow through, see videos of Brian Lara or even Suresh Raina – how the bat follows the arc much after the ball has been hit. Likewise, when you drive in, the force should be enough to drive the fingers into his skull. The eyeballs are not as tender as grapes. By their shape, they are designed to glance away blows at it to a great extent and they give in also. If the resultant pain has to be enough to incapacitate him, then put your body weight behind the Two Finger Poke. Do not worry about blinding him for life. Even with all the force you can muster, he would be only in pain for a few minutes, giving you enough time to further fight or flee.

    If you are not very bashful and understand it’s only a gambit, and that you have to give something to gain something, and have got his hands busy around your bust or waist region, hold his head in your hands and bid him to close his eyes. Align your hands in such a way that your thumbs are directly over his eyes. Plunge the thumbs in with all the ferocity you can build up, while being conscious that if you do not cause sufficient pain, it’s your virginity and/or self-esteem which is on line. That should give you enough steel to dig deep and firm and hold on long enough to push his eyeballs in and cause enough pain so that the thought of raping you is the farthest from his mind for next few hours, at least. If the manoeuvre is not carried out with sufficient intent to cause extreme pain, it may backfire on you. The eyeballs are designed withstand a great deal of pressure by deflection and the nature of their construction; the average rupture pressure for human eyes is 0.36 ± 0.20 MPa or about 3 times the standard atmospheric pressure.

    Adam’s apple

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