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Woman of letters: To the two rape victims of Badaun

Sunday, 15 June 2014 - 1:00pm IST | Agency: dna

Following the unimaginable cruelty that faced Badaun's young victims of rape , Malavika Sangghvi writes them a letter

To the two rape victims of Badaun,

I do not know your names. The sight of your two bodies dangling like broken kites from that tree shocked even the usually garrulous media into silence.

The grief and despair in the eyes of your families and friends when they looked at your two young bodies hanging that day was so profound that it travelled all the way to the powerhouses in Delhi and Mumbai.

No names could be found to describe who you were or what you stood for. It was too late to give you names. Too late for the routine response.

Consequently, you are, and perhaps will always be, the two girls who went in to the fields to answer nature's call and had the misfortune to encounter the Evil that lurks in the heart of man.

Perhaps it's only fitting that you do not have names. Perhaps you are every innocent girl destined to face the unutterable, the unfathomable and the incomprehensible that waits at the end of her field, the corner of her lane, the entrance of her village, if she is inattentive, unescorted or perhaps just happy and carefree, as you might have been that day before the Beast arrived.

Perhaps your namelessness will be the message: You stand for every girl born to this sad and sorry country of ours, where the lives of its women are so fraught with danger and insecurity and into whose destiny is written this chilling truth: they will get you.

In your homes, in the fields, in the cities, in public spaces, in offices, on the streets, in broad daylight, or at the crack of dawn.

They will get you, rape you, throw acid on your faces, exploit you with threats or promises, brutalise your insides with sharp objects or knives, humiliate you, burn you if you are not useful, deny you your Constitutional rights if you ask for them-why-even kill you in your mother's womb or the minute you are born if you are a girl.
They will get you.

Those men whose faces we perhaps see daily. Whom we call brother, uncle, father friend, the men who we trust and honour with our love and faith, they are the ones who will get you. With sadism so unimaginable, a hatred so fathomless, an evil so chilling, they will break your tender spirit on the back of their savagery.
And then they will string you to the branches of a tree you perhaps played with — hang you up on it like two broken masts and dissolve into the darkness, leaving only the scribbling of their hoof prints on the sand. And the smell of sulphur in the air.
And the next day when your families come and see their daughters broken like sparrows crushed under a wheel, their grief will set sail a small boat of outrage.
The media, the NGOs, the politicians, the activists, the feminists, civil society, they will all be overcome with concern and the injustice of it all.
For a season. A month. A day. An hour.
But then things will go back to normal. And young girls will think it's safe to go back to their fields and their jobs and their routines and their lives.
And the beast will rear its head up again.
How many young girls more? How much more pain? How much more shame?
When I saw the first news trickle in and the photograph of your two bodies hanging from a tree, I couldn't believe my eyes: I had to look again.
Through my tears, I saw the tree with your innocent bodies hanging from two branches, swaying in the village breeze, and it looked like a grotesque symbol of the scales of Justice. And of course, it was blind.
Someday, its eyes will open, not only for you two nameless girls of Badaun, but for across the length and breadth of this land.
Until then, we remain speechless in grief.

Yours sincerely etc,

Malavika Sangghvi can be contacted at

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