If I were to write that security of women in this country is a matter of concern, it wouldn’t be something new. But then, it has sadly been the harsh truth for such a long time now that it’s difficult to think of a time when women felt safe. And with the rate at which we’re moving ‘forward’ as a society, there’s not much hope for the future. What’s worse is that every time we hear about cases of abuse, the world stoops to new lows. And the past few days haven’t been any different.

Without doing an outright search, and after aimlessly scrolling my social media feed, I’ve come across umpteen ways in which we’ve insensitively talked about Shraddha Walker, a victim. It doesn’t require a build-up to say that we’ve failed, as a society, and as human beings. I’d be lying if I said that it’s just insensitive reporting by media or ‘some people’ on the internet, because it’s not. I have relatives sending poems about how Shraddha made a mistake, or how it’s important to listen to your parents. And yes, it’s the same uncle who thinks that women shouldn’t voice their opinions, or that divorce is taboo. Do you see the irony?

The most gut-wrenchingly offending thing about victim-blaming is that the people who are forwarding these “public service announcements” on WhatsApp are part of the reason why women CANNOT feel safe. They’re telling us that this wouldn’t have happened if the woman wouldn’t have been in a live-in relationship. So basically, nothing ever happens to women who are married with permission from their families, or women who are married off in an arranged set-up? IT DOES. Because, there’s no objective method to nullify abuse and assaults, once and for all. Sadly, that’s not how the world functions.

The problem is that the same people who are sitting and passing comments now, have a part to play in why our society treats women like it does. They normalize the mentality that women should fear men, or that men can control women. Why is it that we’re still debating if a victim should’ve “fought back” or “left the guy”? How difficult is it for us to understand that it’s not as easy as it sounds?

A toxic and abusive relationships isn’t the easiest thing to open up about. We can say that the woman should’ve talked about it, but we cannot imagine the trauma associated with it. And not that it should make any difference, but the victim here had reported about the mistreatment in her relationship. So why is it that we’re not blaming the authorities or the system in place that fail to provide justice in time?

Victim blaming is about blaming someone who has suffered, the word doesn’t have any positive connotation to it. And it pains to see that people do it, justify it. If you’re blaming the victim, you’re at fault. In times, when we should take action against culprits who had the audacity to even think of something as horrendous, we’re sitting and imagining what the woman should’ve done instead. My question is – if she didn’t get into a relationship, had waited for her parents’ consent, left the guy, or adopted any other “probable” solution, would it have eliminated the horrible man from existence? He’d still exist, and probably do the same thing (or worse) with someone else.

And these so-called “solutions”, they do not work in a world where we teach our men that they’re superior. Because again, such cases of abuse and murder still exist, no matter how many ‘precautions’ women take.

If you’re telling us that staying inside, getting married with parents’ consent, covering up or any other method can nullify cases of rape or abuse, then you’re deeply ignorant. We, as a society, think that the best way to avoid such crimes is to hide our women. And what about these culprits who are at loose — will they suddenly transform into good people, or well, basic human beings? These crimes aren’t a one-time “mistake” that happens because of ‘temper’ or ‘disagreement’, they’re proof of the mentality that is deep-rooted.

Above all that, anyone who thinks that scrutinizing victims is the “right thing to do” – they’re the ones to blame. Because this also develops fear among victims who might want to come forward and share their ill experiences. We’re quite literally depriving people who’ve suffered, a space to open up, and seek help. And if you think that victim blaming has ‘lessons to learn’, you’re mistaken and how. It’s not a lesson, it’s a person who suffered.

As for men who’d love to be ‘saviors’ – women do not need saving, we just need you to be better people.