Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
Last week, a man stabbed an MBA student in broad daylight in Mangaluru for rejecting his proposal. Onlookers from a nearby building caught the horrific attack on camera.
After stabbing the girl, the 28-year-old perpetrator attempted to slit his own throat. While his condition is now out of danger, that of the woman is serious.
This incident is definitely not one of a kind. Cases of men murdering women for rejecting their advances have become more common and widespread than one could have imagined.
For a woman, it has become hard to say ‘no’, and harder for a man to accept.
Years back in Chennai, 22-year old Sreepriya’s way was blocked by her stalker Rohit Kumar, who demanded that she express her love for him. When she protested, he took out a razor and slashed it across her cheek.
Sreepriya’s fault? She dared to say ‘no’.
A chilling video some years back from Delhi showed a man, Surender, stabbing a woman, Karuna Kumar, 22 times before moving on to dance around her bleeding body.
Karuna’s fault? She kept ignoring Surender’s attempts to speak with her.
24-year-old Infosys techie S Swathi was hacked by her stalker P Ramkumar as she waited for her train at Nungambakkam suburban railway station.
Swathi’s fault? Ramkumar was infatuated with her and she did not reciprocate his feelings.
In fact, in a very recent incident in June, 2019, a 34-year-old woman police officer, Soumya Pushpakaran, in Alappuzha district, was brutally hacked to death and set ablaze by a man, Ajaz, in broad daylight on June 15, due to a spurned marriage proposal.
So what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear an emphatic ‘No’? Anger, sadness, shock, despair, or perhaps a mixture of all of them?
Simple experiences we face every day tell us a lot about how hard people find it to accept rejection. We have all received messages on our social media inboxes from people who have expressed their eagerness to know us. Many a time, politely declining their proposal has not worked.
The barrage of messages evolve from being nagging to sexual, abusive and even violent threats. The jilted lover then often ends up getting blocked.
Imagine a circumstance when blocking is not an option. Imagine the horror of being followed to and from their school, college or workplace every day. Last year, a total of 7,190 cases of stalking were recorded as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. Several others lost their lives.
None of us would ever want to step into their shoes or that of Laxmi Agarwal, the acid attack survivor whose story and struggle have inspired hundreds of women to demand safety and accountability.
As amusing as it may be to the Indian film industry, stalking is a punishable offence.
Rejection never makes us feel good at the moment. It is, perhaps, one of the deepest human fears, although we might just laugh it off, a week, a year, or a decade later. Even the smallest of rejections are hard to handle at first.
But rejection does not mean you scar a woman’s face or squeeze the life out of her.
Rejection does not give you the right to take anyone’s life.
From a kid being denied a candy to an adult being denied a job, rejections are inevitable. It is something we must accept sportingly, even though we often feel that we have been treated unfairly.
But what is it that makes a man get so aggressive upon being rejected?
Maybe the violence stems from superiority complex or the fear of losing out to a woman. This skewed sense of entitlement perhaps comes from being brought up to believe that they are the superior gender and that the best goes to them.
At the dinner table, the best portion is often reserved for them. They more freedom, greater say in the family matters etc. Many of them are learning early on that getting the best of everything in life is natural.
Later in life, the same applies when they are pursuing women. A ‘no’ hurts their sense of masculinity, their upbringing and their entire existence, especially in a society where regressive patriarchal ideas are clashing with modern reality every single day.
Reaction to rejection is often to play pursuers and a societal narrative assures them of the ultimate victory in the end.
It is these narratives that need to be challenged, the upbringing that needs to be amended, for only laws and regulations cannot entirely stop these crimes. We have to treat our women better. We have to respect their decisions and accept rejections.
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