Poems about Rape and Victims in India

Rape remains a pervasive problem in Indian society. We present 7 prominent poems about rape by writers who wanted to express their sorrow.

Poems about Rape and Victims in India f

Sticking to the schedule will ensure the girl reaches home 'unraped.'

Desi poems about rape reveal the trauma and suffering of women from all generations across India.

Rape is a social issue present from many centuries, causing women to feel unsafe in their daily lives.

Women can experience a constant threat and potentially being a target of rape.

Victims themselves feel rape is a violation of their physical and personal integrity. Rape victims will partially feel as if their life has been torn apart.

However, many poems about this social menace can comfort victims that they are not suffering alone.

Consequently, writers try to understand and are very supportive of how victims feel when penning down such poems.

The first stage of healing is acknowledging depression, sadness and despair following rape and violation of one’s boundaries.

Many poems validate such feelings and offer some solace to slowly begin a process of healing.

Let’s take a closer look at some incredible Desi poems that explore various forms of rape.

One Day by Smitha Sehgal

You will step out of your home
And find corpses of little dolls strewn in the garden
The pavement, sidewalk, streets, lifts, subways, trams, metros, gutters, manholes
Those plastic faces, the shine of the apple of cheek
Smeared with the dirt of your guilt
Heads half severed, mutilated limbs
Dangling from electric poles, branches of surviving trees
Their eyes mauled,
Tongue blue, rhymes frozen in them
Crushed on the zebra crossing like insects
Little frock and pinafore torn
Hair a mass of filth where flies rummage for remnants of sticky candies
You will stoop down to gather the frayed pieces like a scavenger
Cart away the mangled flesh ripped apart and left to rot,
Beneath the heap of those corpses, there might be a possibility
Of finding a little heart beating fast
Crouching in fear 

Poems about Rape and Victims in India - one day

Smitha Sehgal is a contemporary Indian-English writer and a lawyer. Her creative work has been published in Mathrubhumi, The New Indian Express, poetry anthologies and in many other magazines.

One Day is a powerful and sensitive piece of poetry on child rape.

Sehgal expresses the heartbreaking consequences of child sexual abuse. The child is left searching for his or her lost childhood wherever they go.

The trauma haunts the child forever. ‘Corpses’ symbolise the remnants of trauma. However, One Day carries hope for emotional healing.

The trauma causes guilt, flashbacks and triggers all around the abused person.

It is extremely hard to carry a burden of trauma in Indian society, where rape is still taboo.

Children often don’t report sexual abuse out of fear, shame and guilt. They are afraid that the abuse may worsen if they open up about it.

Especially, for girls. Where the fear of opening up can lead to future issues related to marriage and social status.

It is the parents’ responsibility to observe their child for any signs that may be related to sexual abuse.

Anxiety, eating disorders or inappropriate sexual behaviour for child’s age are some of the signs.

Smitha Sehgal alludes to the fact that one will survive the worst days and eventually see the light.

I am a Woman in India by Chandni Singh

I have had my breasts fondled.
Not by a lover,
but strangers on a bus.
I have been gyrated against
as I navigate the city:
packed like sardines
they are more depraved than animals.
I have had penises flashed at me
whose owners I know not;
they only come with a pair of lust-laced eyes
and a soulless smile.

I can hold my own on issues
about the environment.
I can wax eloquent about literature and music.
I am told, I am the future;
and for a moment I am bent into believing
in the bubble I have bought into.

But every morning,
I cower.
My ego slouches
as it is castrated at the hands of
crotch-clutching goondas.
I have lost count:
there are too many to fight.
I may be liberated. And educated,
but my fire has been doused.
Neither rhetoric nor review can
bring me solace.

And so, I turn the other cheek.
I have become deaf to the whistles and
blind to the lewdness.
I adjust my dupatta
and look straight ahead
as they line the streets and pucker their mouths.

I am just a woman in India.

 

Poems about Rape and Victims in India - abuse on bus

Chandni Singh is an Indian poet and an environmentalist living in the UK. She is studying for a PhD in rural development.

Singh writes I am a woman in India in response to the gang rape of a 23-year-old in Delhi.

The poet speaks from her personal experience. She exposes the reality that women are facing on a bus in her home country.

The contrast between Chandni as an educated woman and some of the lecherous men implies their lack of education. The society does not teach people enough about sexual boundaries.

In spite of her being educated and mentally strong, she is overpowered by perverse men.

Chandni Singh talks about the important issue of sexual abuse that happens more subtly than rape, but still has devastating effects on the victims.

It is Rape by Rupi Kaur

“sex takes the consent of two
if one person is lying there not doing anything
cause they are not ready
or not in the mood
or simply don’t want to
yet the other is having sex
with their body it’s not love
it is rape”

Poems about Rape and Victims in India - consent

Rupi Kaur is a poet who was born in Punjab, India, yet lives in Toronto. She is a writer, illustrator and a performer.

This short, but powerful poem from Rupi Kaur’s collection Milk and Honey (2014) explains the difference between sex and rape. The poem can be directed at both women and men.

It seems obvious what is the difference between rape and a healthy sexual relationship.

However, it is essential to remind ourselves and others about these unspoken rules that have such a substantial impact on people.

Sadly, many rape crimes in India never get reported. If a girl was raped by her boyfriend who is a seemingly respectable man, she most probably wouldn’t report him.

Another reason for the reluctance to report sexual abuse is that the rape laws in India are milder than in the UK.

Besides, rape in a relationship is oftentimes not considered to be rape at all, when in reality it is.

It is important for the Indian nation to start speaking up about these issues. Ultimately, everyone deserves to learn about healthy boundaries and to feel safe in their relationship.

Let’s Talk about Rape by Farhan Akhtar

When life breaks you
pick up the pieces
Stick them back together
Smoothen out the creases
Brush off the dirt
Re-apply the colour
Polish the rough edges
Shine up what’s duller
And when you’re done
creating this new person
Just let in some love
To complete your new version.
Be all that you can be
Be fearless my child, Be free
When people get you down
Tell you you’re wrong
You’ve got to believe in yourself
Remember you’re strong
Cut out the noise
Ignore derision
Tear off the blindfold
impairing your vision
And when you’re done
Standing up full height
Just let in some love
And let your dreams take flight
Be all that you can be
Be fearless my child, Be free

Poems about Rape and Victims in India - akhtar

Farhan Akhtar is  Bollywood director, singer, lyricist, and founder of the social campaign MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination).

The poem is dedicated to a young woman, a victim of sexual assault.

The message to her is of hope and encouragement.

It is deeply unfair that women have to pick up the pieces after being hurt by the rapist.

Akhtar’s comforting words attempt to lessen the burden of shame and depression on the girl’s back.

Farhan reminds the victims to love themselves as it is not their fault that they had to suffer such sexual violation.

My Lover Speaks of Rape by Meena Kandasamy

Flaming green of a morning that awaits rain
And my lover speaks of rape through silences,
Swallowed words and the shadowed tones
Of voice. Quivering, I fill in his blanks.
Green turns to unsightly teal of hospital beds
And he is softer than feathers, but I fly away
To shield myself from the retch of the burns
Ward, the shrill sounds of dying declarations,
The floral pink-white sad skins of dowry deaths.

Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .

Colorless noon filters in through bluish glass
And coffee keeps him company. She chatters
Away telling her own, every woman’s story;
He listens, like for the first time. Tragedy in
Bridal red remains a fresh, flushing bruise across
Brown-yellow skinscapes, vibrant but made
Muted through years of silent, waiting skin.
I am absent. They talk of everyday assault that
Turns blue, violet and black in high-color symphony.

Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .

Blues blend to an unforgiving metropolitan black
And loneliness seems safer than a gentle night
In his arms. I return from the self-defence lessons:
Mistrust is the black-belted, loose white mechanism
Of survival against this groping world and I am
A convert too. Yet, in the way of all life, he could try
And take root, as I resist, and yield later, like the earth.

Open eyes, open hands, his open all-clear soul . . .
Has he learnt to live my life? Has he learnt never to harm?

Poems about Rape and Victims in India - marital rape

Meena Kandasamy is an Indian poet living in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. Besides writing poem, she is a fiction writer, translator and activist.

In the poem My Lover Speaks of Rape, Meena Kandasamy talks about the painful reality of an abusive relationship.

The victim experiences verbal abuse and silent treatment. She also lives in fear of being raped because it has already happened before.

In this particular poem, she speaks about the marital rape that happens within the home. It is usually not reported by women for various reasons.

The main problem with marital rape is that it’s not considered a crime in India. Consequently, women wouldn’t be taken seriously if they reported it. Moreover, they are often are judged by their families.

A culturally embedded submissive role of women doesn’t give them enough power to get out of abusive marriages.

Marriage is considered sacred, and meeting their husband’s needs is seen as an implied part of their female role.

Contrary to her role in the marriage, the narrator speaks openly about her experiences. This poem might hopefully give the comfort and strength to other women to open up as well.

This poem won first prize at the All India Poetry competition.

Rape Schedule by Bhavna Bhasin

I am on a rape schedule
It’s after 10,
the city is receding,
street lights flickering,
A murmur of ‘go home’
is in the air,
Audible only
to my ear .

We had just started talking,
I was telling him why I chose
writing over practicing law,
‘That’s a bold move’ , he said
I quickly shut the phone screen
that said 5 missed calls

Now I’m not allowed contingencies
you see
If I said I would be back by 11
I should have been in bed by 10
Or planned all life events before 3
Because I am on a rape schedule

I know this could be a wonderful conversation, and we have only
just begun
But I’m tracing the map,
it’s forty minutes to home
Every passing second,
another potential rapist gets
added to the list of ways
in which a consequential,
highly avoidable fate is met
after a night of fun
So I have to go,
keep the shoe,
keep my share of the night sky too
Because I am on a rape schedule

My parents have already imagined
every possible horrendous thing that
could happen to me
Their anger is misplaced,
their logic faulty,
But can I complain
if in theory they believe in my freedom
But really just act out of concern for me?

I should be grateful for the sunny patch
that I’m allowed
For men who feel responsible for me
even though I’m better endowed
For
everyday that I follow the schedule
and
come
home
unraped.

Poems about Rape and Victims in India - curfew

Bhavna Bhasin is a writer, along with being a content and band strategist based in New Delhi, India. Her poem about rape had a wide reach on social media site, Facebook.

Rape Schedule is a spine chilling poem, which went viral on Facebook. Bhavna Bhasin highlights the arbitrary rules that girls follow to protect themselves from sexual offenders.

The poem is about how time flies for a young girl.

Despite it being dark and enjoying male company, she is frequently reminded to abide the curfew, along with multiple call notifications and her parent’s misplaced anger.

Sticking to the schedule will ensure the girl reaches home ‘unraped.’

It is stressful to have that fear gnawing at the back of your mind like a hungry animal. Sadly, that is the reality of modern life in India.

Besides, all of the rules that girls follow to protect themselves, nobody is hundred per cent safe.

Bhasin told the media that the incident of Varnika Kundu, daughter of IAS officer Varinder Singh Kundu from Haryana prompted this poem:

“The victim bashing and general spur of comments that were written in the wake of that citizen, raked a long buried emotion in me.”

The Printing Machine by Kalki Koechlin

Chrrrchrrrchrrreee
Goes the steady printing machine

Chrrring bloody scenes into bold black ink,
Chrrring headlines that make us glug
glug our drink,
Chrrring crimes against women,
(Steep rise in ink.)
Gang raped Japanese tourist,
(International stink stink.)
Strip searched for menstruating,
(Blink blink.)
Irom force-fed from starving
(Think, think)
Child raped by politician,
(Ka’chingka’ching.)

Chrrrchrrrchrrreee
The machine harps happily

And we drink to ink
That makes our stomach sink
And teaches us to fear

Everything.

Fear the beasts riding the nights
From Delhi to Pondicherry,
Cat calling, wowing, growling,
Grrrgrrrgrrring.
Beasts of poverty,
Beasts on a shopping spree,
‘Its midnight Cinderella’
‘It’s ten o’clock you dirty fella.’
Oh hell it really doesn’t matter,
It was afternoon in the warehouse and nobody heard her,
There’s was just grrgrrgrrring
Growing louder and louder
And the machine chrrrchrrrchrrring
Faster and faster.
Chrrring a nation that prides itself in the hanging of four men
Five if you count the suicide bastard.
Chrrrchrrrchrrring a village dangling
Of two girls, like pin up dolls, upon a tree.

Chrrrchrrrchrrreee
Goes our busy printing machine
Till heads pile up in our hands
Printed crisp and clean on our newspaper stands
And blend smoothly into our morning routine.
Heads for one side or another
Like a black and white marketplace,
Two heads for four,
Four heads more,
Enough heads to start a war,
Chrrrchrrrrchrrring one after another
How many heads are we after?

And when you think its over,
When the machine stops with a sudden chrrreee

Wait a little
Wait patiently

It’s just readying
To chrrr at textbooks of rewritten histories
Of dissected countries
Of majorities and popular beliefs,
And then the
Long
Slow
Chrrr

Of italics
In roman prints
Of sweeping statements made by official establishments
To take safety precautions and make improvements
Based on moral views and religious sentiments
Of political convenience.
Chrrring out the marks of sin
Cut out of the clothes you’re in,
The men with whom you’ve been,
The colour of your skin,
Speaking of which…

Chrrring horizontal lines vertically,
To pay for print
In soft baby pink
The pleasant opening page
Revealing a ‘Fair and Lovely’ face,
Which melts slowly
A few pages on
With the rise of acid sales.

Chrrrchrrrchreee
Our machine sings obliviously

Chrrring magazines
With shiny sheens
To accommodate setups socially serene,
A world we can buy into,
A dream we can hang onto,
A love that divides one into two
Values that depend on what others think of you
And you know the tune,
You are what you say and not what you do,
So keep tap tap tapping
On keyboards computing
Virtual drawing rooms of communicating

Tap taptweet.
Tap tap sweet.
Tap tap texting.
Tap tap emoticoning.

Whilst our machine
Keeps chrrrchrrrchrrring

Background scores to our scenes,
Chrrring fantastical Bollywood dreams and glory
Based on Box office stories,
Chrrring carefully formulated plots of success
Pots of money
And lots of business,
Chrrring us to smile at rocks
And call them diamonds,
And honey,
Chrrring us into late life disappointments
And life long resentments…

Chrrrchrrrchrrreee, the family you marry, has nothing to do
Chrrrchrrrchrrrooo,
With the man you woo.
Chrrrchrrrchrrraaa, to underwear and bra,
Ladies can’t fight seriously in lingerie,
So hurrah hurrah,
Let’s throw her a bikini
Every time she raises her head defiantly,
You see,
God forbids multiplicity
For a woman in our society.

Chrrrchrrrchrrreee goes our precious printing machine
Chrrring what it sees, chrrring non chalantly

Chrrring sadness, fatness and mental illness
As reasons for unhappiness,
Chrrringmedication that sedates you into stillness
Chrrring you to mask your nakedness
By wearing
Less
And
Less.

Chrrring bitterness in mothers
Like slow venom seeping into future generations,
The quiet revenge of the weaker sex
From behind the guise of a tear stained Kleenex.
Chrrrchrrrchreeee
Chrrrchrrrchreeee
Chrrring little brats that grow into men,
Chrrring little ladies who use hearts to pretend
And find ways to manipulate and defend
Themselves
From the grrgrrgrrring beasts
Of Darwin’s survival of the fittest theories,
Until our existence becomes an endless series
Of chrrrchrrrchrreees.

Chrrrchrrr dailies,
Chrrrchrrr weeklies,
Chrrrchrrr stories that becomes our histories,

Which, oh, in irony of all ironies,
Will one day reveal
How our great Indian heritage
Fell to its knees

At the mercy of innocent
Little
Printing machines.

Poems about Rape and Victims in India - printing

Kalki Koechlin is a successful Indian actress and writer. She is of French nationality but was born in India.

Being successful on the Indian film scene, she has received a National Film Award, a Filmfare, and two Screen Awards.

Printing Machine is a video produced in 2016 by Culture Machine, a digital media company. Koelchin recites the spoken word poem about how the media are portraying crime against women.

In the video, she refers to the Delhi gang-rape in 2012 and the rape case in Uttar Pradesh. The video shows newspaper headlines of terrifying events of rape and violence.

The poem Printing Machine expresses that the media plants a paralysing fear in women instead of offering solutions and empowerment.

The fear sinks deep into the minds and hearts of people as they read the news as per routine.

Similar to the Rape Schedule, this poem highlights an image of a curfew after which only dangerous things happen.

At ten o’clock all women turn into vulnerable Cinderellas who have to run home from night predators.

Kalki conveys a feeling of resignation about modern Indian society, where everything that happens turns into printed paragraphs. Nowadays everything is taken for granted, even violence.

In the sea of texts and papers, people forget to be human and empathetic.

Some of the best poems display several facts of reality. The aforementioned Desi poems about rape do not shy away from showing the harshest corners of reality, including sexual abuse and trauma in India.

Victims of rape are usually held captive by their pain, but there are ways to heal.

They are also often harshly judged and blamed by society, so they don’t report crime and stay in abusive marriages.

The poems educate us about personal boundaries, and where to set them. It is important to understand the different terms to pinpoint the abuse that happened and start the process of healing.

Many of the poems confirm the different kinds of rape – be it child, spousal and deceptive rape. However, in all of the cases, the identity of a person and trust in themselves and others has been shattered.

Many of the candid verses about the rape attempt to empathise with victims and can help them restore their peace.

Sometimes victims are even in denial that something happened.

For example, marital rape is still taboo in India, so women often feel fearful of being judged if they open up.

The poems suggest rape can take place in various environments.

Furthermore, women feel trapped and targeted at all times, especially when travelling on a bus or even on a quiet street.

It doesn’t help that media are only sharing tragic news, without any encouragement to the victims. Unfortunately, sometimes the victims even get blamed for what happened to them.

It is critical to create a safe space for women, children, and ultimately everyone to express their feelings.

Fear, shame and guilt about rape are a part of Indian culture. Through communication, we can step by step start shedding the old patterns.

Hopefully, these desi poems about rape can go along way to help mend the wounds of trauma.

Lea is a student of English and Creative Writing and is constantly rethinking herself and the world around her through writing and reading poetry and short stories. Her motto is: "Take your first step before you’re ready."

Image courtesy of Bloodaxe Books, Rahul Krishnan and Nikki Blight.