Like most people, my reaction to the sharing of those horrific images of two young girls hanging from a tree, all over social media, was one of shock. Not because I recoiled at seeing such a gruesome image, but because I felt it once more violated the dignity of the victims. Granted, taste and dignity seem to have fallen by the wayside in a world where every person with a smartphone and social media account is rushing to share breaking news. Of course’ rarely does anyone check the veracity of the items being shared, check the facts or even stop to think about the impact or repercussions it might have on victims or their families.
There are those who argued that it was acceptable, in the Badaun case, to share the image because it gave voice to a desperate cry for help; one that has gone unheard for too long. That is helped focused media attention on all the nameless, faceless Dalit women who face sexual abuse and rape, can never speak of it and will never be able to go to the police or get justice. So perhaps it was not such a bad thing to share to help break our apathy.
I don’t disagree with waking people up and getting them to take action. I also believe that it will take all of us to speaking out, and the whole nation demanding change before the women of India can feel safe on our streets and in their own home. But I still do not condone the sharing of these images. Not because of the discomfort of having to see them, but for the simple fact that we are saying that our being told that a woman has been raped and killed is no longer enough to shake our apathy. Are we so jaded, so over-stimulated with social media, saturated by tweets and Facebook posts that we need to be shocked to take the issue of rape seriously? Did we need to see images of Jyoti Singh Pandey’s mutilated body (Nirbhaya) to take action and raise our voices in protest?
The fact that a woman has been raped should be enough to cause outrage. That we need to see images of the victims of this horror, in order for us to take any action, says something much more worrying about us.