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Thursday, 28 March 2013

If The World Ends...

‘Things like this happen every day and nothing will be changed. Only if the world ends will anything change.’

Later, when you stagger beneath palms. Gaze at stars.
on salted air swept up in foamy sea.
You’ll wonder at this beauty, spread
before your feet. Already
by three others and declare,
‘So – why not, also, me?’

When the roar of surf against the beach batters
your eardrums, you’ll try to halt her
of pain. Leading you on.
Silk, sari, sensuous. Revealing breasts and hips and broken
where three fists, flung. Driven fucking crazy with her sexy
strutting home – alone – from college or the call centre.

They all do It.
Travel after dark. After 6pm.
(Your sister wouldn’t)
Dress like that. Provocative. Asking for It.
And, as golden sand thrusts
between your toes, you’ll ponder, RAPE:
a big, big problem. For women.
Who ask for It. Wearing short and sexy dresses.

When you think of shadows, of men gathered beyond
the veil
of light that bathed the street, you’ll recall she begged
for It. And screams and cries and howls
mean nothing when a woman travels late
at night – well – after seven.
(Your sister wouldn’t)
get a job or think she’s safe or want equality.

Or shiny cars and huge bank balances
between bruised and battered legs.
Or dress like that, or walk the streets, or go to work,
or dream of
safety, in numbers, when
you felt threatened by this woman who, so evidently,
Asked for It.

(As told to Gethin Chamberlain in Baga, Goa, 2013)

© Carolyn Cornthwaite

'If girls look sexy, boys will rape.' Is this what Indian men really believe?

Carolyn writes poetry sporadically or relentlessly (depending on the season) and is influenced by travel, former careers and people watching. She dreams of Booker Prizes and a life in France. @carolyn_corny


  1. such a powerfully written poem; but a very worrying subject

  2. Hi James
    Thank you for your comments. I haven't written a poem for a while but reading the article inspired me to start again. I have written other poems with difficult subject matter but I found this one the most uncomfortable to write. Even starting was difficult and that is why I experimented with juxtaposing the more 'known' and 'idyllic' images of Goa against the subtext of sexual violence and some very confused and abhorrent viewpoints. I hope that I have managed to handle the subject matter sensitively whilst, perhaps, urging people to think and develop their awareness of the issues.

    1. Congrats! What a relief wew! Yeah! Upward and onward!!! Here's to health and happiness. You deserve it. :)
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  3. A powerful write indeed Carolyn.

    You have managed the horrific subject matter with great sensitivity and its message certainly hits home.

    It is a sad indictment on society that the subject matter exists...and sadly nothing will change...

    Anna :o]

    1. Thanks Anna, my biggest concern was still being sensitive but without losing the horror of the subject or reducing the power of the imagery. And I wanted to get it up in time so it meant submitting after two days work - I would normally want to leave a poem like this alone for longer.
      The subheading about things never changing is taken from the actual interview. I like to hope that things will change and I think there are enough people in the world who would try to change things. Even if by discussing the subtexts we alter the mindset of just one person it helps.
      But I fear that you are correct and, ultimately, sexual violence will not go away.

  4. Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need, thanks for all the enthusiasm to offer such helpful information here.
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