The Rape of Sita by Lindsey Collen

imageI really wanted to ‘love’ this book but there was something missing, a disconnect only leading me to ‘like’ the book. The narrative and/or the writing felt serrated taking away from the impact this story holds. A definite missing link in the chain.

I have mixed feelings about the narrator being a man discussing the rape of a female. I understand his message but what bothered me was the constant second guessing and questioning of the rape. What if? Should she have? I felt like Sita was being held responsible/accountable and it gave a sense of her being a victim again. It becomes clear towards the end, Iqbal (narrator) believes in male and female equality but the continual shoulda, coulda, woulda drove me crazy. How about asking why Rowan raped her? All the what if’s should have been directed towards the perpetrator NOT Sita.

Sita, a woman of strength, a leader, reading the rape scene is intense. You want to climb through the pages and help her fend off her attacker. Collen paints a very vivid picture of a rape, and it’s heartwrenching to read, leaves the reader disturbed. Once Sita’s memory is triggered she deals with the rape, you feel her pain, her struggling deciding what to do. She goes through all the motions of handling the aftermath and once again the reader is swept up in the emotional roller coaster along with her. Sita considers murdering her attacker creating a tense moment in the narrative, along with her thoughts of suicide.

“Would this act of murder stop men thinking they could rape women the world over?”

Ultimately Sita becomes not only the voice of one woman but of all women oppressed. She didn’t allow her rage and guilt to consume her thus a symbol for all women.

I will say Collen’s multicultural elements, combining folktales and mythology as well as political dissent create quite a story on colonialism. Whatever the elusive missing ingredient, I wish I could have loved this book, poignant message but disjointed.

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Paperback, 232 pages
Published July 15th 2004 by Feminist Press (first published 1995)
ISBN13: 9781558613935

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