Rape is not funny

Published: November 14, 2011
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Why make jokes about an issue that is serious and has real implications? ILLUSTRATION: JAY'S TOONS

“Yaar main nay toh exam ka rape kar dya

(Man I totally raped the exam)

…I overheard someone triumphantly say as I was packing my bag in school. My fingers fumbled with the strap as I tried to drown out the peals of laughter that erupted after the inappropriate comment.

Sadly, it isn’t that strange to hear someone use the word ‘rape’ in such a frivolous manner. People have now become accustomed to using this word casually in contexts that are far from serious. This immature use takes away from the gravity of the issue, and attributes a humorous quality to a crime that is far from a joke.

The expression ‘rape’ has turned into some kind of a fad. Its presence is almost ubiquitous, whether it’s for the replay button on YouTube or during a match against two teams. I, for one, find it far from amusing when someone hollers:

“Section A nay Section B ka football match main rape kar dya

(Section A raped Section B in the football match)

It’s very disturbing and disconcerting to find this expression being used so carelessly without people giving any real thought to what it really means. Dozens of Facebook pages have used it to come up with quirky one-liners which are then ‘liked’ by millions of people.

Rape jokes have become widely prevalent today and are thriving amongst both the literate and the illiterate alike. This is a sad reality given the fact that there used to be a time, not long ago, when the mere mention of the word was taboo. Even stand-up comedians, who are generally granted liberties beyond normal measures, did not make jokes about sexual harassment.

Now people say ‘rape’ in a way that makes a traumatic experience sound silly and entertaining. Although I appreciate that people can now talk about the term and it isn’t only used in hushed whispers and treated as taboo, I do have a problem when people make a mockery out of a serious issue. The rabid, tractable way in which it is now being used has broad implications:

“Rape victims are only seeking money and publicity”

“Rape does not need to be investigated or prosecuted”

or worse

“The victim must be lying”

These are only some to the responses many rape victims get as people have made a joke out of the word.

Rape is played down enough already by politicians, many sapient religious leaders, bright students, newspapers, the internet, by people on the streets, and even by some of the people you interact with on a daily basis. I highly doubt that it requires anyone else’s assistance to be further minimized.

When the horrendous idea of abuse is not taken seriously, it logically translates that rape victims are not taken seriously. In addition to this, just imagine for a second how cruel and debilitating these jokes might sound to someone who has been molested, or who knows someone who has suffered the same cruelty. Would you make the joke if you were in the same situation? No, right? Then why make someone else needlessly suffer?

The next time, someone tries to indulge you in a rape joke, please don’t be silent and let the joke go on.

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Tayyaba.Iftikhar

Tayyaba Iftikhar

A student who is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Mass Communication from NUST Business School.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.