Saturday, 19 July 2014

How we sanction rape?

In times like these when rapes are committed with impunity and reported by media with pragmatism the reactions though conspicuous are varied. Most of them are being directed towards someone or something indiscernible. Some decorously at the rapist and some at the government urging them to bring in the medieval stone pelting and public hanging laws to satisfy the barbaric and vulgar sapidity. The most ludicrous ones blame the victim. Only plausible few delve into the role of society. No matter how vociferous or placid our reactions are we cannot deny that perpetrators are not tossed from an extrinsic far away planet. They are the putrid yeild of our decadent society. Dismembering them literally and figuratively will not end the menace. For there is still enough dilapidation in society to be a breeding ground for such perversions. It is no hogwash that we at some level sanction rape. Surprised? Lets first understand why rape is commited.

I do not consider rape as crime of passion or sexual pleasure. I think rape is a crime of control and aggression to hurt, humiliate and debase the victim by using profane language and violence. It is hinged on notion of ownership of female body. Honor is rested in power, the powerful has honor and can deprive the less powerful of it. Hence it is a power and control issue. A lot of answers can be found in these men's own words here

75 percent of the men committed rape out of their sense of entitlement that they deserve sex when they want it and the rest did it for entertainment. Feeling entitled to another person's body and eliciting entertainment out of another person's affliction has nothing to do with sexual pleasure. It has to do with the issue of the way men are brought up in the society. Entitlement to do this act comes from society.

Husbands are exempt from being charged with raping their wives. Here we sanction rape. The Indian army in strife areas is exempt from being charged with rape, so here we sanction it. Every time we curtail a woman’s freedom and choices indulging in victim blaming rather than rapist blaming, we sanction rape. A few years back a woman was raped at 9 pm and the government addressed it by making it difficult to employ women after 8pm. Women were made housebound even though the rape was committed by men, thus sanctioning rape and implying that rape after 8pm is a fair game.

We as a society approve rape by men in certain circumstances. We then allow rapists to prescribe what circumstances are ‘rape-worthy’ and how women should live to avoid them. We never profess men how they should live to avoid raping.

Wearing scantily clad clothing is not provocative in a sexual way. To men, it’s a direct undermining of their power and authority in society. When a woman dresses the way she wants to, she is exerting her own right of choice, which is a dangerous thing in an oppressive society that does all it can to tell people that they are not allowed to do what they want. So what does a man do when a woman 'disobeys' the convention ? He 'teaches her a lesson', and then proceed to defend himself with the tired old  'she was asking for it'. 

When we ask women to cover up, we are telling young men that they are potential rapists and it’s natural for them to sexually assault someone they find attractive. What young minds need to be taught is that no matter how much they want to have sex with a woman, they need her consent. The society needs to accept that – No consent, no sex. Sex without consent equals rape. And only yes means yes. It is excusable to murder someone in self defense but it is never excusable to rape someone under ANY conditions. There are no grey areas here.

The self righteous, sacrimonious upholders of Indian traditions will argue with the help of statistics that rape culture is unIndian as compared to western culture so barring few stray incidents all is hunky dory. What annoys me is that we are more concerned about India’s reputation than about being empathetic to survivors. I really doubt the statistics that there are less rapes in India because marital rape is still not considered a crime, we all well aware of the perils of reporting rape where victims are attacked, slandered and and vilified sometimes even by their own families. Not to mention the rape of children by relatives.

Molestation, groping, stalking, forced kissing – anything that is a sexual violation needs to be held accountable as. All are violations. Many of these violators start out with groping and then escalate to rape.

We need to stop treating women as devalued transferable property. Sometime back there was a very popular post circulating in facebook about a father 'giving away' his daughter to his son in law and requesting him to treat her well as the father has no 'rights' on her anymore. I cringed when I read it. The discrimination and devaluation based on caste or race which is now no longer considered agreeable is still  passed on and glorified in the name of emotions and traditions when it comes to gender. Just replace the phrase giving away my daughter to as with a particular caste or race and how xenophobic the person will sound. Now replace daughter with son. How does that sound?I am going to unruffle a few feathers here but no culture should have blind immunity to treat a certain section of people as slaves to be given away. 

Until we stop treating women as second class citizens and property with transferable rights confining them to lower echelons of society no amount of death sentences and stone pelting will curb rape.


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