Outrage breaks out on social and mainstream media every time a newsworthy rape occurs. Yes, I said 'newsworthy'. Rapes occur all the time, everywhere – unimportant rapes, unreported rapes.
But some are worthy of the prime time news, of Twitter trends, of Facebook notes, of newspaper reams, of lofty pseudonyms.
Some rapes will take care of nine o' clock discussions for the rest of the week. The nation wants to know why its women are not safe. We the people want to know what measures will be taken to ensure our protection. The authorities need to face the nation. We will play devil’s advocate to every futile solution they offer.
Newspaper headlines, inside pages and op-ed pages are sorted.
We know what the next several columns will ask –
"Is Delhi the rape capital of India?"
"Is Mumbai the new rape capital?"
"Do cities rape people, or do men rape people?"
"Are rapists to blame, or are their parents to blame?"
"Should we forgive rapists – for they know not what they do, for they are usually victims of sexual abuse themselves, for they come from broken families – or hang them?"
"Don't rapists feel remorse?"
"How dare anyone say rapists should be forgiven?"
NGOs go into overdrive, composing pointless petitions, and spreading awareness of their own names along with word of the petitions.
Activists hold candlelight vigils and protests. Freelance journalists are never more important than in the weeks after a famous rape. Newspapers and news channels run campaigns for the safety of women; magazines bring out special issues.
And, through all this, there is no thought for how the victims will feel when they wake up to Twitter hash-tags like #MumbaiGangRape and #DelhiGangRape.
Image: Members of a social organisation Our City Our Right hold posters during a silent protest following the recent gang rape and murder of a 20-year-old college student in Barasat, in Kolkata on June 15, 2013. (AFP)