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The night of the lost nose-pins

The night of the lost nose-pins

Author: Mohammad Badrul Ahsan
Publication: The Daily Star
Date: November 16, 2001
URL: http://www.dailystarnews.com/200111/16/n1111602.htm#BODY3

What about the men who inflicted those wounds? They have gone back to their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters with the calm of a storm that has spent its force. What will they do? Will they ever feel guilty for what they did? How will they cope with the love for their own women if the contorted face of their victims flash in their minds? Perhaps the rapists have a way to deal with it because they are different men. For the rest of us, it is hard to believe that they were men at all.

IN one night, nearly two hundred women were raped in Char Fashion of Bhola, and amongst them were an eight-year-old girl, a middle-aged amputee and a seventy-year-old woman. They were raped in the paddy field, in the bush, on the riverbank, in the house, and in the open field by gangs of men, who had come to spare nothing in the village. It was an open house for debauch men who were roused by the aphrodisiac of extreme prejudice.

So the loathsome thing happened, and Muslim men raped Hindu women. The village was sprinkled with the bodies of molested women, numb with pain and shock in the aftermath of nightlong abuse. They were beaten, bitten, scratched, pummelled, dragged and ravished; the jewels of their honour despoiled like the sanctity of an abandoned house.

Rape is to love what war is to peace. John Webster, an English playwright, writes in The White Devil, "A rape! a rape!... Yes, you have ravished justice; forced her to do your pleasure." Maybe those men who attacked that night had a predisposition. Maybe they had watched and coveted those women for many days already. And their repressed desire erupted one night after the elections, when they assessed that those women were vulnerable. The coalition of carnal men then went ahead and forced those women to do their pleasure.

But it is not rape that was so shocking about that night in Char Fashion. Rape is when the biological force field between a man and a woman is abruptly disrupted, and the sexual tension turns into a sudden confrontation. According to Greek mythology, even the gods in heaven could not avoid that confrontation. Zeus violated Leda while camouflaged as a swan and Europa in the guise of a bull. Poseidon raped Kainis of the horse-taming tribe.

Thus rape is unequal sex between two individuals when the ecstasy of one becomes injury to another. It is a crime, and it is a sin. It is also a kind of mental sickness, which afflicts only a certain kind of men. But above all it is a storm that brews in the groin of man and lashes out in his head, when the dust of lust blinds his soul, and he stoops lower than a beast. It is the most intimate exploitation of pain for pleasure, the rapture of the strong drawn on the rupture of the weak. It is the violation of the unwilling by the unwieldy, the art of lovemaking reduced to a savage showdown between predator and its prey. Rape ransacks the body of its victim and turns it into a wasteland.

True, the atrocities of that night left behind two hundred wastelands, where shame and grief will stagnate for the rest of life. But ultimately that is the problem of those two hundred women and their few hundred relatives. For us, the rest of the society, the problem is the wanton liberty with which reckless men destroyed the last relics of decency. What made them think that Hindu women could be mass-raped because there was a change of government? Since when politics and profligacy came to this deadly mix so that a shift in people's mandate should make them horny?

Then one has to wonder at the cruelty of the whole thing. The number of men who attacked was almost equal to the number of women they raped. One of the women was gang-raped by eleven men. Try to work out the permutation and combination of victims and aggressors and you will be amazed at the correlation between libido and hatred. It took so much flow of seminal fluid before those men could release their terrible rage!

Did those men come to rape because they wanted to hate, or did they come to hate because they wanted to rape? Libido and hatred are two of man's primal passions, and when they come together in the force of violating a woman, sex hurts with the impact of a catastrophe. It is difficult to tell whether those men discharged libido to dispense hatred, or it was the other way around. Did they go back lighter and relieved? One would probably think so. But what about those women who were hunted and dishonoured?

How did they feel being pinned to the ground when man after man took turns on them? Did they feel sad for being molested twice by each of those men: once as a Hindu and again as a woman?

Some of the rape victims have compared their experience to the loss of their nose-pins, while narrating their harrowing tales. They must have said so because what they lost was an ornament of womanhood. And it was a loss that may never be compensated with the gains of life, because it singed something very special in the hearts of those women. After all, in case the rapists of the world didn't realise, their victims are all made of flesh and blood and are no different from their own mothers, wives and sisters irrespective of caste, creed, race or religion.

To think of it, our society has lost something even more precious. It has lost its ability to stand on the high moral ground of civilisation where both gender and religion ought to get equal protection. Pierre Louys wrote in his novel Aphrodite in 1896 that the ancient Greeks didn't attach ideas of lewdness and immodesty to sex. Sensuality, he wrote, was a precondition of intellectual growth, mysterious but necessary and creative. If a man doesn't feel profoundly the demands of the flesh, he is not capable of encompassing the demands of the spirit.

Neither holds true for the sleazy men who had turned into monsters for that one night, because the demand of their flesh had demeaned their spirit. They raped in the profane brotherhood of atrocious sensuality, and they chose victims not on the basis of their appeal but on the basis of their faith. Child, old woman and the crippled, they spared none from the brunt of their attack, which was driven together by libido and hatred into the body and soul of their victims, who have been shedding their tears ever since. Maybe that is the only way they are going to have to deal with the scar of their wounds, which might heal in the body but never in the soul.

What about the men who inflicted those wounds? They have gone back to their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters with the calm of a storm that has spent its force. What will they do? Will they ever feel guilty for what they did? How will they cope with the love for their own women if the contorted face of their victims flash in their minds? Perhaps the rapists have a way to deal with it because they are different men. For the rest of us, it is hard to believe that they were men at all.

(Mohammad Badrul Ahsan is a banker.)
 


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