Let’s talk about rape.
More specifically, I want to talk about rape in context of my country – where people are ‘conservative’, with family systems and values in place – unlike the ‘western’ culture (please do not take offence as this is mere sarcasm) so brazenly open.
Women there dress freely. They wear swimwear on the beach and all, unlike us who mostly wear slacks or even if we dare to wear swimsuits on the beach, we ensure they cover at least half of our legs. They wear shorts and skirts nearly anywhere and everywhere without prejudice.
Heck they even have sex and live in relationships with open freedom. And we – the ‘conservative’, ‘principled’ people of India, we sit and judge them on our high moral horses.
Well crimes against women are happening all over the world, even in western countries, you would tell me. According to some statistics, I believe US might be the country with the highest rate of rapes.
But other than the facts that there is a difference what is recognized as rape in the US and here (question of no consent versus did a rape actually happen? did he really insert his penis inside? how deep? how many orgasms did you have etc?) coupled with the majority cases which go unreported due to social and judicial hurdles combined, it is the disturbingly cruel and extreme nature of the recent incidences in Kathua, Unnao with more coming to light everyday, which makes me believe the rape epidemic in my country may be different than in the rest.
Even children as young as eight and infants who are just months old are not being spared.
The level of brutality is such that one is not satisfied by just the act of forced sexual violation – so they go ahead and crushes their bones, maim their bodies and rape them over and over again even when they are nearly corpses.
Rapes of the most gruesome nature which one will shudder even to think are happening here left, right and centre.
Yes the law and order here is more than just a little messed up here. Cases can drag in courts for as long as 20 years whereas bails are given often in 2-3 days. The delay and lack of implementation of law, the overall corruption in the system where such incidents are suppressed with monetary muscle power, the lack of fear in criminals as they more often than not will believe with certainty that there will be negligible to no consequences for their actions no doubt plays a crucial role.
But is it the only reason?
Let’s take a look at the usual excuses. We as a nation have always been more interested in these excuses rather than the event that a woman has been violated.
- She was wearing a short skirt/dress.
- She was consuming alcohol.
- She seemed like a loose woman (whatever that is) as she was friendly with guys.
- She was with her boyfriend.
- She stayed out late.
- She was just asking for it (basically by doing one or all of the above).
These are actually some of the legitimate reasons which are thrown at a woman here, in nearly every single discussion, by media and politicians alike to make her understand why she has been raped and how to avoid it in the future.
While I think it says a lot about our intellect and culture where all of the above are basically taken as mating calls by a major chunk of the Indian male society even in our so called metro cities, please tell me –
Can you use the same reasons for an 8 year old or infant?
We will come back to this, but first let’s talk about seeds.
How does a seed work? You hold a small seed in your hands, say a mustard seed. If you are an alien on this planet, with no knowledge of how this works, you would never be able to imagine that this tiny seed will become a full fledged, huge mustard tree, a gazillion times bigger than the seed.
So how does this relate to the Indian woman?
Have we not always expected the Indian woman to play second fiddle in everything?
Let’s have a look at what is generally expected from an Indian woman from developed, metro cities.
India has a strong system of arranged marriages. Ads are put on matrimonial sites as well as newspapers. Qualities for a potential bride will always have looks (fair) and a pleasing personality on the top of the list.
When was the last time we saw an Ad saying they wanted to marry a self made woman with an undying zest for life, who does not hesitate to call a spade a spade? A firebrand, a go-getter who will never settle for less? A woman for a loving relationship in which they will mutually support each other in whatever way possible so that they can enjoy this awesome adventure called life to the fullest?
We don’t see such Ads. Because we don’t like our women like that.
We want malleable girls who will willingly play the secondary role and quietly raise a family.
Even in our so called modern urban cities with corporate and MNCs flourishing everywhere, where both men and women get post graduate degrees and work in lush offices – the basic requirements haven’t changed.
Above all, she must be a dutiful wife, listen to her husband and in laws, never dare to do anything which may bring ‘shame’ to the family – which often means basic things like going out and having a good time with friends, partying or sometimes even stuff like wearing western clothes. Yes, there are times when she may not even have the freedom to choose what she wears.
If she wants to work, do a job and stuff, it’s her problem (in many cases these days she has to work to support the cost of living).
She must manage it somehow along with running the house, without expecting much cooperation in the tasks of running said house from the rest of the members, as it is and will always be ‘her’ responsibility. Forget that she is also contributing to earning a livelihood for the home.
So how does she manage it?
She compromises on her sleep, wakes up at 5 am, cooks breakfast, lunch etc, pack everyone’s Tiffin, get the kids ready and runs out of the house by 7:30, hardly having time to stuff in her own breakfast while getting ready.
She comes home after 10-12 hours, having experienced an equally gruelling day as her husband.
But unlike her husband who looks forward to hot food, some TV for relaxation etc. after a long day of work, she bustles to get dinner ready, feed the kids, take care of their homework and finally crash in bed after midnight.
While she compromises on her peace, well being and health which may already be suffering due to a high pressure job, the man of the house sleeps on his own terms after his relaxation & entertainment is done, so that he is fit enough for the next day of office.
The man of the house also likes to go out for a drink with his guy friends now and then to chillax. The same action of enjoying alcohol is a shocking taboo for the wife though.
After all what ‘cultured’ woman would do that?
A man can drink and still be cultured I guess, but a woman, especially a married one, must do it like a shameful thief, averting everyone’s prying eyes and leaving no evidence of the deed anywhere.
He may party and return at late hours because that is life, right? She may do it if she is allowed to attend said party with her husband. There are times when a well dressed woman looks good with the husband and is beneficial to his overall image after all.
She also needs special permissions from everyone for visiting her own parents.
She can do it for a limited period but it is very much looked down on if the period or frequency is increased. Because for how many days can she abandon her responsibilities in her true ‘home’?
By now the poor thing has even forgotten she had friends. Or if she does remember, she is happy to like their pics on Facebook. With all those ‘responsibilities’ of hers, she will never get the time to meet them anyway.
And as icing on the cake, in many households, she is expected to handover most of her salary to the husband or in laws.
They do not trust her to spend it on the well being of her family and she has no right to spend it on herself, I guess.
For those who stay at home to look after the family, the situation might be physically less taxing. It’s a kind of reward for the servitude. Such behaviour is often sought and hence must be encouraged.
So the family will not create too many issues so long as the woman plays nice, takes care of household stuff and stays away from the troublesome stuff like drinking. Basically she should recognize who the true authorities in the house are (not her, obviously) and as long as she lives in harmony with all their decisions, life will be decent.
She will beget progeny often not according to her own desires but by the desires of her in-laws. This also holds true for the wage earner.
She may live a little better as long as she does not really care for the respect which she as human being deserves and kills any ambition that she may have had for her own development in the bud itself.
All those things are unnecessary as she is more than fulfilling her life purpose by living a life of servitude to her husband, children and in laws.
In either situation, the women may have to endure marital rape, seeing as even the government has legalized it. Apparently, marriages would ‘crumble’ if it was made a crime.
This is the norm. And if by chance, she actually gets decent human beings as her husband and in laws, she is considered tremendously blessed and lucky and envied by her female friends. Oh and by the way, it’s an unwritten law here that marriages are compulsory. If you do not marry, you’ll likely be considered an aberration by the entire society (actually such people often live in more peace than their counterparts).
There, we have the seed.
Move a little further and you objectify her some more. Maybe you’ll whistle at her on the street or grope her on a crowded platform. Maybe you’ll justify it saying she was wearing something ‘indecent’ like jeans, shorts etc.
Or maybe she was covered fully but you thought you had the right anyway, simply because she happened to be a woman and have breasts.
Either way, to you she becomes a piece of mutton to ogle at, existing for your temptation and consumption.
You do not stop to think that it is not her clothes but your mind which is the actual filth.
The belief of the Indian man that a woman is a secondary existence whose primary purpose is only to support and pleasure him goes tremendously deep.
An Indian woman does not have an independent existence of her own. Society always describes her based on her relationship to everyone.
She lives a sorry, relational existence. I got a message which said – Don’t rape her, she is somebody’s mother, daughter, sister, wife etc.
They did not say don’t rape her – she is a human being.
Even the anti rape message did not take the one who was being raped into account. Do we see her as a complete existence in herself at all?
I don’t think you’ll get such a message anywhere except in India or other countries which look down on women as secondary, relational existences.
Were you ever told – don’t steal from a man because he is somebody’s father, brother or son? Don’t steal from him, because he must be providing for some family somewhere? No, right?
They just told you – don’t steal. It’s wrong. Can’t we say the same about rape?
Don’t rape, it’s wrong.
It’s wrong to violate someone, to go against their consent. It destroys the human you are violating and you have no right to do that.
Most of you would know that even in our so called urban cities, gynaecologists display a sign saying that sex determination is not done in this clinic. Just try to think about the implications, what would happen if it was actually permitted?
Innumerable girls would be killed in the foetus itself.
In many places it is still happening. Female foeticide, I believe is a uniquely Indian problem. We shun our girls even before they are born. Half of the times we do not want them. They are dead weights and liabilities.
The reasons may go back to our so called rich traditions. The girl cannot carry your ashes once you are dead. For this you require a boy child. Why would you care so much once you are dead I do not know, but this is actually one of the many reasons.
The second reason is that the girl must be married off and expenses are incurred for this. She is ‘Paraya Dhan’ simply translating to ‘someone else’s wealth’, namely her husband’s family. Hence they are not wanted in their own families.
It gets ugly. At the end of the day, countless times, she is not the pride of the family but rather something like an obstacle to overcomes. And this reflects everywhere.
If we move further into areas with such beliefs, where law and order is even more dismal then in the cities and nearly absent education systems, the girl becomes a mere toy or tool to play with. Sensibilities are non-existent and base tendencies rule supreme, especially with those in power – empty vessels who are just perfect for the devils to do their best work.
You see her alone; of course you can pick her up and rape her. So what if she is a mere child who cannot even comprehend the ‘s’ of sex or sexuality? What good is she going to achieve by growing up anyway?
You picked her because you want to relieve yourself. Or you picked her up to use her as a means to some other end; you wanted to threaten her kin, her tribe. Did not matter for she was no more than a tool.
Might as well make the best of whatever that tool can offer – so you tore her open. You raped her. You literally tore her, limb by limb, you starved her, all her wails and cries were nothing but background noise. She bled, she cried, she died. You smashed her repeatedly just to ensure she never wakes up again.
After all in your eyes it was not rape. It was your – the male’s right to satisfy his lust or whatever else he wants, by stepping on her.
This, dear friend, is the completed tree of that seed.
In places with dismal execution of laws, poor education and standards of living, things happen which you as a civilised man may not even think of doing.
But the crux of it is the same. That she is a tool. She exists for me.
If you are an Indian man, it is present in you.
As an Indian woman, it is also present in me – for I have memorized my place. I know my boundaries, what I am allowed to do and especially, what I cannot. If I want to live safely, I know what all boundaries I must not cross. Else only I will be to blame.
And I am reminded of it time and again by all those around me. I also remind the women around me of the same. Don’t be late, don’t take chances – why invite unnecessary trouble. Be safe. Carry a Pepper spray. Please come home on time.
I also know what all can I expect from my partner and what will be a lost cause. If by some miracle I get a partner who recognizes and supports me as an equal, surely it’ll be a reward for some excellent past life karma!
As a more self aware generation, can we stop doing this?
Will it ever stop? The Indian woman and her rape problem.
May God protect us.
I pray for healing for any and every woman and child who suffered. I pray for those who are suffering and the many more who will. I pray that you & me can raise our families safely. I pray that your daughter can blossom into a wonderful lady and someday live without fear.
I pray that your son will be the man who will treat every woman in his life with the respect she deserves and raises such daughters.
These views are strictly my own.