A Powerful Story About Attempted Rape And Victim-Blaming Told Through 23 Striking Photos
"Should I just stay home from now on because I’ll be defenceless when confronted by one of these demons? And most importantly, Will this scar vanish? Will I move on?"
Photographer Ganesh Toasty recently did a 23-set photo series to highlight the prevalent issue of rape in India. The fictional story focuses on a character named Tanirika, who was almost raped at the hands of a group of guys. But in the midst of it, one of the guys stops the attack. At end of the story, her takeaway is that she was to blame, and that it wasn't the fault of the perpetrators. The story acts as a mirror on Indian society, in which victim-blaming has become part and parcel of reporting a rape.
"I keep hearing about several rapes happening; kids have been raped, elderly people have been raped, women from all walks of life have been raped. Rape isn't because of the clothes women wear or because men don't know how to control themselves. Authorities often blame the victim's habits, clothing, and social behaviour. It happens because there's a lack of humanity, and that's what this series talks about," Toasty told BuzzFeed.
These photo series originally appeared with captions on Toasty's Facebook page. You can view it here.
After the attempted rape, and meeting her appa, the last photo encapsulates Tanirika's thoughts:
A memory rushes to my head. This happened when I was a very little girl. One day while playing outside my home I tripped over some small pieces of rock and fell head first to the ground. My appa hearing me yell with pain came rushing out to my aid. He carried me all the way to the hospital telling me stories about brave little girls to make me stop crying but I didn’t.
I stopped crying only when the doctor wiped clean my temple and placed a small bandage over the wound. The bandage was removed a couple of days later and when I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw a small reddish formation on my temple. My eyes slowly started to water and with those puffy eyes I ran to my appa and asked him what it was and whether it will be there always. With a little laugh he held on to me and explained that the formation is nothing to be afraid of and it’s called a ‘scar’.
He continued by explaining that a scar is just a biological process that helps to repair the wound and it’ll vanish in a few days but I wasn’t convinced. I felt uneasy whenever I looked at a mirror and with anger I started to play the blame game. For the next few days, whenever I saw a rock lying on the lawn I just picked them and threw them out with such a rage a little girl could gather. Noticing what I was upto my appa called out for me. He calmly asked me what I was doing and I explained.
He quietly listened to what I had to say and when I was done he sighed for a moment. He took the stone that I was still carrying in my hand and with his gentle voice he told me that my fall wasn’t the stone’s fault. He further elaborated that the rocks are inanimate objects placed wherever they are by the force of nature and that I unfortunately stumbled upon one. He called it an accident and advised that I as an animate object should be more careful in future with my movements so that I don’t fall often as there are so many inanimate objects around us.
I remember being angry with him for a while for not taking my side and in a few days the scar vanished and I moved on.
The memory washes all over me like a wave while I sit here with blood on my face and a scar in my heart. Is this my fault too? Is it my fault that I had to take a walk through the woods and stumbled upon those men? Is this an accident too? Are they inanimate objects as well? Should I be more careful whenever I take a walk outside and look from the corner of my eyes always for demons lurking in the dark? Or should I just stay home from now on because I’ll be defenceless when confronted by one of these demons? And most importantly, Will this scar vanish? Will I move on?"