# the orders were to rape you - Book Review

We will build the tomb
For women's exploitation
We will dig the graves
For society's backward ideas

- Captain Vaanathi


The warfare techniques evolved all along with technological advancements. The combat weapons became - sword, gun powder, tanks, missiles, submarines, aircraft, automated missiles, cyber-attacks, biological weapons. One everlasting weapon over centuries is rape. Rape is an undocumented and loaded weapon in the military playbook and men’s minds.

LTTE and Tamil Eelam’s freedom struggle is always a topic of discussion in Tamil Nadu since 1970s. As a kid, I listened to Sun news, especially the international news section, to know what’s happening with LTTE and the Sri-Lankan government. All I wanted to hear - LTTE is making progress, they captured the base, they are marching forward, and they are winning the war! The students discussed it in lunch, the folks traveling in city/town buses discussed it. There were a lot of folks who were against LTTE too.

In the first part of the book, the orders were to rape you, Meena Kandasamy pens events that led to her long-term relationship for liberation, love (internal strength of her) Tamil-tigresses’ and her support for self-determination of Tamils. The island nation’s events traveled so far and entered into the author’s home and homes of Tamil Nadu as it unfolded.

History is written by winners and sometimes by the survivors. Not all survivors wish to speak or possess the language or skill to record history. The second part of the book documents the female Tamil tigresses and a wife of a Tamil tiger. The honest account of their meetings, situations, and post-trauma they live with. Along with their trauma, the author accounts her personal pain, troubles, and shattered images of the tigress’s conditions. The rape was a post-war tool of the Sri-Lanka army. The author points out how white-skin authors are considered neutral, whereas someone who can understand pain, the language, and state oppression is considered one-sided.

Here is an excerpt from the survivor

I don't know if you will get angry at me,
but I have to say this: this Tamil society is useless.
Why do they not work towards the betterment of their own condition?
Instead, they are putting all their time and effort into slander.
Instead, they dial long-distance to Sri Lanka to tell this story.
All of this because I do not have a husband.


Tamil Tigresses are regarded highly, and they were lethal fighters in the war. Society’s image of them with uniform and without uniform reveals the Tamil society’s double standard. The women’s status in society is brought back to the pre-LTTE days. The no-matter the achievement of women, she is treated with all regressiveness. If the survivor was an unmarried male will society treat him the same way? It reminds us the progressiveness is a long-term and continuous engagement. The dignity of the co-survivor and love/empathy is missing in the community. The Tamil Tigress finely puts in the book A corpse in awake is looked upon with more respect. A corpse is superior to them, to a raped woman like me.

"I have never killed anybody, it is true, but it is because
I lacked the courage or the time,
not because I lacked the desire" - Eduardo Galeano



The person undergoing rehab needs at utmost confidence and trust of the doctor to reveal the horrible events. While narrating the rehab discourse, the author points out the fine critic of the rehab program - .. domesticating them, teaching them to make cakes and rear chickens and do embroidery - tasks for which these women have no patience.

Everything is now a dream
many of my friends
are now on the battleground.
A few of them, in graveyards.
Me alone, with a pen in hand, a poet.