I write this stunned not because this was unexpected — for we all know this happens around us, but that it happens at this scale comes as a shock to me. Every story on the blank noise project is shocking and yet completely unexpected once you get past the shock.
I remember first time I was travelling with my wife on a train, second class, and when the night came, she was suddenly uncomfortable. She said she can never sleep on the train comfortably. “What if someone does something”, she said, or something to that effect. I laughed it off. On this train filled with passangers? I almost faught with her saying that Indian trains are very safe (at least in Maharashtra). But then Hemangi Gupta’s Train to Chennai told me what my wife knew all along. That these things happen. What the Blank Noise Project told me is that those stories are rarely told, even to close brothers, to boyfriends, to fathers, or even mothers and sisters. That the victims have to live with an absolutely unearned guilt is the worst part of this disgusting affair.
In Disclosure, Michael Douglas’s character is told by his lady lawyer that “sexual harrasment is not about sex, it’s about power”, or something to that effect. Maybe that explains why these stories are left untold — the feeling of powerlessness against the apathy and even antipathy towards a crime that, going by the testimonials, is far more common than I’d have anytime imagined, even in so called “women friendly” citie like Mumbai. And that is why this blogathon is such an important event in the Indian blogosphere. Newspaper stories shield the victims behind false names and newsmen’s objective narratives. When victims talk, a very subjective narrative can sometimes go long way in impressing upon the fense-sitters and casual offenders the full impact of what they’re doing. It’s a step in the right direction.
A few posts, including one by Rajesh J. Advani, that I thought are must reads. Not that others weren’t.