By Ipshita Agarwal
Edited by Nidhi Singh, Junior Editor, The Indian Economist
To the avid football fan (and during the World Cup, there are just too many of them), this heading seems pretty normal, exhilarating even. 7-1 is a scoreboard you don’t get to see every day, and that too, with Brazil at the receiving end. Why the ‘didn’t it’ then?
As Germany scored 4 goals in 6 minutes, I logged into Facebook for the customary status update. Just as I was writing about what a crazy match it was turning out to be, I saw my newsfeed filled with a string of posts about this turn of events in the match. Guess what a majority of those posts had in common, apart from the words ‘Germany’ and ‘Brazil’ of course? ‘Rape’, yes.
Germany ‘raped’ Brazil, they said. ‘Star Sports just became an adult channel, telecasting live rape’, they said. For someone who has a lot of football-crazy friends, I had become used to some status updates here and there, using the word ‘rape’ to show how badly a team had been beaten. Netherlands raped Spain, they had said.
But, as I saw one post after another using the same word, it struck me too hard to ignore. Germany routed Brazil, yes. Brazilian football was humiliated, yes. But, raped?
When you use the word ‘rape’ to show how one team beat another, you are basically saying that the rapist (in this case, Germany) is the victor, right? That the way they rendered their opposition helpless, shows their might, and hence Brazil was raped? You want to say that Brazilian footballers will be ashamed of themselves after such a loss, and so you say they got raped? You imply that Brazilian football has no place to hide after such humiliation, so you make them the victim of a rape?
In a social media population that is increasingly becoming sensitive to the issue of rape, such casual usage of the term is a reflection of what believes we still hold about rape. The victim is the one who was responsible (for the defeat), the victim is the one who the society requires to be ‘ashamed’. The rapist is the victor, the victim is the loser. Not every football game defeat is called ‘rape’. Only the most ruthless ones, are.
We condemn rape, we share heart wrenching posts and videos about the need to spread awareness and take action; but where are our beliefs? Do we still believe that a rape victim is completely ‘destroyed’ by the act of rape, as the usage in football context would mean? Why has rape become about ‘iski toh zindagi kharab ho gayi’, ‘iski toh izzat loot gayi’ (her life is spoiled forever, her self-respect has been destroyed), rather than being about ‘healing’? Why is it more about how the girl’s family will not accept her now, how she has no place to go, nobody to show her face to? Why is it not about a crime that was committed against someone and the need to seek justice for the same, as you would for any other gruesome crime that deserved punishment of the highest order?
I do not attempt to say that football fans who used this word meant any of this or are responsible in any way for what is happening today. I used the Brazil Vs Germany example to prove that even those of us who condemn rape whole heartedly, use the term in a way that would actually gratify the rapist, put him on a pedestal (as Germany is on one).
Most people might argue that it was said in good humour and we need to take these remarks lightly, but it is comments like these that show what we perceive of a rapist and the victim. We might be fighting for justice or awareness, but using the word ‘rape’ in contexts like these undermines our efforts. Until we treat rape victims as ‘victims of a crime’ and not merely ‘survivors who have lost everything in life’, we are not progressing in our beliefs, as a society. For real change, as all of us want, we need to first stop treating rape as the victory of one person over another, as a show of might. We need to realize that ‘rape’ is not the synonym for ‘brutality’ or ‘a victory big enough to reduce your competition to pieces’.
Before we make or share sensitizing videos and go for candle light marches, we need to redefine our perceptions about this crime. ‘Change begins from you’, we’ve heard countless times. But, it really DOES. Change your perceptions and the thinking of those around you, and we’d have made a good start to fighting for equality and justice.Ipshita is a second year student pursuing B.Com Honors at SRCC, Delhi University. She loves to read, interact and network. Books are her first love and she dreams to set up a chain of bookstores around the globe. Writing is her passion and she is particularly interested in the fields of public policy, politics and international relations. She aspires to build a career in public life and take up writing as a medium to bring change.