Saturday, August 27, 2016

No This Is Not Rape (Trigger Warning: Sensitive Material)

The Mahmood Farooqi rape case has been immensely triggering for me.
Not just because the facts are so similar to what happened to me about a decade ago but because of the unfortunate discourse that's followed Farooqi's sentencing to a minimum 7 yrs in prison.
"Why didn't she resist?"
"Why didn't she go to the police immediately?"
"Is it rape if he goes down on her?"
"Is it rape if it's less than 4 minutes long?"
"Is it rape if she's white?"
"Is it rape if he's bi-polar?"
"Is it rape if he apologises?"
"Is it rape if his politics is widely acknowledged as progressive?"

There have been a string of rape apologies I've read under the guise of 'widening the debate' and 'inviting nuance', some by people I call friends.
Each piece twists my insides because they take me back to a time when rape-apologies weren't things others said to me but things I said to myself.
No, this is not rape because he's not inside me, I told myself as he pinned me to the bed. No, this is not rape because I've smoked a joint, I thought as I screamed stop for the nth time. No this is not rape because he's having a bipolar episode. No, this is not rape because I'm his houseguest. No, this is not rape because look! someone's broken through the door within minutes and lifted him off me. No, this is not rape because everyone in that house is pretending nothing happened. No this is not rape because he is widely loved and I must not destroy him.

I told myself this isn't rape as I ran home and then stayed there, unable to come out for the next 7 days. I told myself it's not rape as I quit my job and sank into a confused state. It wasn't rape for the next two years that I went underground, receding from the world. It wasn't rape when I finally went to therapy and it wasn't rape that made me spontaneously start crying every time my boyfriend & I got intimate. It definitely wasn't rape that stirred it all up again eleven years later when the Farooqi case came up.
Eleven years.

All this time and for me, it wasn't rape at all. Until the woman Farooqi raped showed me it was. Because every forced sexual act is rape. Lack of consent is rape. Taking away a woman's agency and right to her own body, her own safety is rape. I must repeat this to myself every time doubt creeps in and I wonder if it was indeed rape. So must we all, repeatedly until we get it.

Do read this Kafila piece, which succinctly breaks down the legal and feminist aspects of the case and judgement: 

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