Rape of the invisible

Imagine this. Women are dying. No wait, women officers of the US Air Force are dying of dehydration. Not because there is any dearth of water.

A movie still where Jessica, an officer, is kneeling under the plane

It’s all because, drinking water means visiting the toilet (a good half km away) which in turn implies being raped by soldiers lurking around the corners, relates Robin Chaurasiya first-hand as she has served in the US Air Force as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for seven years.

Lt Robin Chaurasiya; now founder of NGO Kranti

After counselling over 50 perpetrated women in Iraq and Afghanistan at her base in Adana, Turkey for a year, Chaurasiya, shares, “It’s hard to think anything good about the military. The training they go through dehumanises kids as they are just 19 to 21 years old.” Putting things in perspective, she reasons, “Exploitation is built into the system. Lives of particular people matter differently such as the life of women of colour is at an inferior value”.

The poster of the film, The Invisible War

Explaining how getting raped or assaulted becomes ‘normalised’, she spells out the circumstances, “When women go to the toilet at night, they are unarmed because of regulations plus the toilets are usually at least half a km away from the base. Even when women went as groups, a number of men together started attacking them”.

In such circumstances, any kind of complaint because of your gender, colour and rank play a crucial role she states. Within the Indian Army, she feels the attitude is same but the protection or practically perceived, restrictions of Indian women officers is worse. Plus, if one wants to step up as a leader, harassment is definitely rampant.

Watch this important documentary (which is inaccessible in India) that shows how various related systems in America are tainted; by the accolade winning filmmaker Kirby Dick who also received the US Documentary Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival last year. The screening will be followed with a Q&A session with Chaurasiya and Sana Contractor, a research officer at Centre for Enquiry into Health and Allied Themes.

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