This study was an attempt to break through this silence and explore. The most difficult part was to actually get to 'meet' and 'talk ‘to rape victims. The difficulty Fu tracingvictims of rape and ultimately talking with them itself proves the difficulty to study a phenomenon like rape. This difficulty in a way compelled me to redefine my initial research intent to study rape victims in the Uttarakhand movement. While I did manage to speak to some victims of sexual violence, I studied it as only one incidence of rape- rape as state violence where the state personnel used rape to terrorize the people and attempted to break the movement. In the course of my field work, which extended over a long period of two years I was able to meet other 'rape victims' in the area of my research and some elsewhere. Most were raped by acquaintances, some were raped by army men, some by strangers and some by family members.
The nature of this kind of research necessarily meant a different understanding of .the 'field'. It was not field work in a bounded area of study as in a village study or a slum study or a factory. The attempt rather was 'thematic'. What bound the study was the phenomenon of rape. However, it was for the most part confined to the Uttarakhand area and Delhi. In the case of the railway rape (Muri express) I spoke with the victim in Delhi.
What I am seeking to draw attention to is the very specificity of the phenomenon of rape that in a way defined both my 'field' and my very long, difficult task of first identifying 'rape victims' and then being able to speak to them and their close relatives. What struck me through the field work was: One that rape was very much a social phenomenon yet an enormous body of myths existed to suggest that rape was actually an aberration of societal functioning; two, that in the case of rape, like no other crimes, the victim is held responsible for the act.
Also, the questionnaires I administered also pointed to the fact that there are wide spread myths held by members of society. Throughout the two year period I kept a diary, jotting down the everyday observation that pertained to attitudes regarding sexual violence.
Scholars have spoken of ethical questions that field work throws up. In this case the questions were all the more bothersome especially because of the pain and trauma involved in an issue so grave. Here, VeenaDas's (1995) advocacy of anthropology of pain has great relevance to the study of women's situations. Das demonstrates that pain can be communicated and felt in another body. It is maintained that a researcher can only feel in his or her own body the pain and sufferings that have been inflicted on women in their exploitation and oppression by a patriarchal set-up by becoming more intensely and intimately involved in close pain sharing relationships with his or her researched subjects (Haider cited in Thapan:1998). In the course of my research, some victims also thanked me for 'listening' to their pain only because they were unable to talk of it to anyone else, because mostly in a post-rape scenario, the victim is ignored and what the 'others' are interested in doing is to somehow hush up the incident to restore their lost sense of honor and shame.
Here, I would also like to highlight the fact that 'voices' weren't the only means of self-expression and communication between the victims and myself. Certain pauses, long silences, gestures, tears and body language also formed important aspects of the narratives.
This study attempted to voice the anguish of these victims along with their relationship with social institutions like the family, community, state and the media. As believed by most people, the importance of a supportive society is very important in the victim's recovery and survival, but in reality, in a sense, victims are 'thrown out of society' of which they are an important part. The family, for instance, often called the 'safe haven' was in a sense unable to maintain its image of a 'safe haven'. Victims of sexual violence, therefore emerge as outcasts of society.