Rama Lakshmi, a journalist from Gorakhpur and friend of Mahmood Farooqui, the Peepli Live filmmaker, who’s facing trial for allegedly raping a 30-year-old US researcher, has taken to Facebook to voice her opinion on the case.
Without mincing words, she puts forward what she knows about the incident. She also describes the ordeal of the rape survivor, who is her friend.
“Two days after the incident occurred, the survivor messaged me and asked to meet. I was in my office. I did not know what it was about. She came over and she narrated the entire incident for two hours – in tears, anger, shock and loathing. She had been friends with Mahmood Farooqui and his wife. She had met Mahmood Farooqui for help with her research work in Gorakhpur (Mahmood Farooqui hails from that place).”
She further spoke about how her friend decided to not give up and fight back.
“She went back to the U.S. to be among her people, friends, family and her university system. She complained to the university. She sought legal advice. She tried to heal. She tried to process the incident mentally when she was home. Then she looked at her little niece and said to herself – “I always teach her to stand up and fight if someone harmed her. Would I ever be able to tell her that again if I remain silent now?”
Rama Lakshmi further brings out the double standards of the society that shames the victim than question the perpetrator.
“She was also afraid of the rampant victim-shaming that goes on in India in rape cases. She wondered aloud that day if she would be able to survive the “blame-the-victim” mind-set that is so prevalent here.”
Talking about the sensitive subject of rape, she asserts how it involves power play. The victim told her, “I have always been the person who owns her body and sexuality. What happened to me that night took that ownership away.”
She also narrates how all of Farooqui and the victim’s common friends isolated and abandoned her after the incident, just to keep up with what she terms the “bro code”. She further criticises the hollowness of society and insensitivity with which rape cases are dealt with.
Here’s the Facebook post where she writes about the incident: