Friday, February 14, 2014

Tiger Hunting for Grrls

Tigers have killed seventeen people recently in Northern India. Why have authorities failed to stop the wild animals? In part because “only three of the six hunters hired for the job showed up.” Women are not present in that particular workforce. By contrast, I just got back from Gir, India's reserve for Asiatic lions, where dozens of women are employed successfully as rangers. 
The author with Kiran Pithiya,
ranger at Gir, India

We here at “Fanged Wilds” encourage India's tiger reserves to train and hire more women, to reduce human conflict with “man-eaters.” (Prime Minister Modi spearheaded the Gir training program that defies gender expectations in India... and the world.)

Sentenced to death just before I arrived in India was a human predator, Mohan Kumar. He proposed to twenty women and convinced them to collect their valuables and elope. Offering the promise of a temple ceremony the next day, he had sex with the women. Then, come the "wedding" day, gave “his intended” cyanide on the pretext that the pills were contraceptives. One woman survived who only licked a pill; the rest died immediately as the serial killer rushed off with the gold and money that each woman had brought from her “Hope Chest.”

I am one of those victims.

No, I didn't eat cyanide. I wasn't the target of a serial killer. But I went to play frisbee with a guy I'd dated, and he raped me while insisting that we be wed. A salient trait of sociopaths is the ability to manipulate others. Please look at my face and see those seemingly ignorant women who ran off with a strange man on the promise of getting a husband. I was too ashamed to tell my girlfriends that he'd raped me; on the contrary, I told them that he wanted to marry me. “What do you think?” I asked, frantic. What identity did I have? In 2004, I was just another woman aging alone. 

Right-wing politicians will agree that rape is inconsequential compared to the status of a couple, a woman partnered with a man: the building block of society. 

Thus predators are among us, and I was a casualty. 
Without Boys, Garls are Nathing...?

In my family, incest victims better not be survivors.

I can plead temporary insanity, though incest has been measured to cause actual brain damage, and the effects were not temporary when I was waist-high to my dad while he sodomized my mouth.
What's funny is that the restraining-order judge Locke Williams literally chuckled (I have the court recording) when I used incest as the reason why I hadn't reported the "date" rape till months after it occurred. 


Even the female police detective said I was just a “jilted lover.” In her defense, I wasn't at my best: I was hysterical with fear to be reporting the rapist. He was stalking me and had showed off the huge Glock pistol he carried in his truck. While the restraining-order judge looks like a big, overgrown frat boy, one can also defend the judge's ridicule of me: I'd explained to him that the rapist Brian Sarni (who looks like a bald Giovanni Gambino) bragged about being in the Mafia. 
Being threatened by Mafia is apparently a joke.

And if, say, I got pregnant by him and didn't take the cyanide pill, right-wing Americans would say I should bring the child to term and maybe even share custody with the rapist

[The Dalai Lama said abortion is violence. 
A monk sticking his moral judgments inside a woman is not non-violent.]

Not long before, they'd killed a sacred cow just a block away: lions roared outside my hotel for two nights at Gir. In the breakfast room there, I enjoyed morning chai tea with a Hindu guest. I explained to her that I had traveled solo from America to see the women wildlife rangers. The lady excused herself to her room and soon returned with freshly applied bindi on her forehead. “The little dot on the bottom represents me,” she said, “And the big dot above is my husband, for he is above me. The mark at my hairline shows I'm married.” You can see her expression here.

That day, I asked a Gir wildlife guard if she camped overnight in the forest. She shook her head. I have to report that she sounded a little defensive as she rushed to mention that she was married

That forest-guard job defies cultural convention for women but don't forget that, in India, it's illegal to be gay.

So the next day I was having lunch at a wealthy herdsmen's hacienda (or whatever you call it in Gujarat), and the tween girl (the only person there who spoke English) wasn't allowed to talk to me because she had to help granny fix the lunch.
Then they didn't eat with the men and me because they had to wait to eat the left-overs outside.

What could turn that little girl into a first-class citizen? Marriage? In her dreams. In her “Hope Chest.”

I did get a chance to ask that girl if she was going to become a “van raksha sahayak” lion ranger. She looked shocked and said, “No.” But my eyes said Yes.

(Then her dad showed off his equestrian skills. Perhaps you can detect from the photo that it was not horse whispering.)

A few days later in Delhi, I was hanging out in the living room of our AirBNB appartment with some other tourists. The French woman there (who looked like Cameron Diaz, with a boyfriend out of GQ) asked if I was scared, traveling alone. I replied that before dawn one morning I walked from my hotel to the Ahmedabad train station, the street was dark and empty, and a man spat at me. Contradicting that I was a target, La Mademoiselle scoffed at me and said, “They spit all the time. What makes you think -?” 

For some reason I was at long last mentally prepared for challenges to my credibility and character. I suggested, “The eyes.” In fact, on my way to Ahmedabad train station, I had barely glanced to make sure that the three wads of phlegm I heard aimed at me were not prelude to assault

I just kept walking as confidently as the fearless tiger hunter I may someday be.

VC Bestor

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