Urmi Bhattacheryya’s After I Was Raped- The Untold Lives of Five Rape Survivors (Pan Macmillan, 2021) is reviewed by Divya Dubey as she observes how the focus on the story ‘after’ the rape is more important.
Published in 2021, ‘After I was Raped’ is the author’s account of the lives of five rape survivors after the most traumatic incident in their lives. They include the stories of two Dalit or ‘lower-caste women, a four-year-old child, an eight-month-old infant, and a young office-going woman. Perhaps it would be better to discuss them collectively rather than individually since, considering the larger picture, they’re representative of every Indian woman at some level – caste or class notwithstanding. The lacerations on their body and soul are universal in the female world.
On the surface, the stories are all too familiar, even clichéd – helpless women/children either lured away by the perpetrators of the crime on some pretext and assaulted, or ‘punished’ by the culprit for their ‘insolence’ in case of defiance or power play. Think back to the days of the Breast Tax in Kerala, imposed on the lower-caste Hindu women (to keep their modesty intact) by the Kingdom of Travancore. Very little has changed since then in terms of privileged men’s attitudes, mentality, and sense of entitlement – not only in Kerala but all across India.