By Aarti Nair:
I feel a sacred urge to write, just after I finished reading the ‘Nirma University rape case’ article in today’s paper. It is not much to the credit of the article that makes you think but try and initiate a conversation about the same with a homemaker you know of and it might turn out to be an interesting conversation.
It is amazing how some of us (talking about women as a community here) are conditioned to stand up against anything and everything against women and the rest of us are just too insensitive; sometimes more insensitive than the others. There is acute lack of a balanced rationality. Well, men of course are considered to be less sensitive than women but somehow that is why it shocked me to the core when I heard a homemaker saying: “It is her fault that she was raped.”
In the recent ‘high profile’ rape case, we all read/heard/rumored/discussed/criticized; the girl was drugged and raped in a hotel room by one of her college mates. If we were somewhere in a European country, this case would have been a classic open and shut case of ‘date rape’ usually perceived as rape that happens when two people go on a date but in reality:
Date rape is a non-domestic rape committed by someone who knows the victim. This constitutes the vast majority of rapes reported. It can occur between two people who know one another usually in social situations, between people who are dating as a couple and have had consensual sex in the past, between two people who are starting to date, between people who are just friends, and between acquaintances. Date rape is considered the most unreported crime on college campuses. The term date rape is often referred to as ‘acquaintance rape’ or ‘hidden rape’ and has been identified as a growing problem in western society.
–excerpts from Wikipedia
But the same situation in India (of course non-legally) is seen unlike any other crime; mostly one sided. Instead of focusing on the questions like:
“Who raped her?”
“How did she get trapped?”
“What kind of psychological problem did the rapist have?”
“Was it momentary or was it planned”
“Is he guilty for what he did?”
The general major questions people have are:
“Why did the girl have to go to a hotel room alone?”
“What kind of clothes was she wearing?”
“How could she trust a Guy so much looking at the kind of environment that prevails for girls today?”
I felt disgusted seeing those questions coming from a woman herself. Not because these weren’t apparent questions but because they were very invalid and irrelevant. As a third party we never know what kind of rapport the girl had with the boy, as she had known him for years, she might have had so much of trust on him and nobody here is talking about the apathy of that trust broken. How can we think of it like: “It is HER fault, she provoked him by going into the hotel room with him”?
I think comes with our basic rationale of looking at things against the perspective of the victim, especially when the victim is a female.
Otherwise, think of this; when a theft happens in a lonely train bogie where an old couple is looted for all their baggage, do we say that: it is their fault; that they should not have travelled alone? No we don’t. When children are being kidnapped away by random people, do we for once blame the parents who let their kiddos out of their attention? No we don’t. When an agency which launders people’s money is discovered, do we say that it is their fault that they invested in something with no credibility/history or name? No we don’t. We instantly sympathize and sometimes even empathize with them.
Then, why can’t we treat a rape case at least just like one of the criminal offences and spare the victim the horror of being blamed for their own rape? We live in a society where people believe wearing short skirts, roaming around freely/alone even in daylight is like a provocation to rape. Here is where the famous dialogue from the movie Jab We Met where an old tickets checker explains the girl, “Tumhe pata nai? Ladki ki izzat khuli tijori ki tarah hoti hai.” In lieu of this statement we forget to blame our own male dominated society where not even one fellow is talking about how these kind of men are wrong when they look at women like that.
On the contrary, we go by our own convenience when we interpret our culture, traditions. We of course prioritized the importance of ‘Burqa’ for a Muslim woman because no one except her husband should be able to see her but we forgot to talk about the fact that that even men were supposed to have a ‘parda’ which was ‘sharam ka parda”, to have shame in even looking at another women in a derogatory sense. Of course that was not something ‘important’ to note. Similarly, the wife falls for some other man it’s the wife’s fault and if the man falls in love with some other woman, not much changes.
In a country like this, it becomes impossible then, to talk about rape cases amongst married women i.e. husband who rapes his wife. Even in that it is HER fault because as her MAN, he had an unprecedented right on her. Researches reveal that victims of marital/partner rape suffer longer lasting trauma than victims of stranger rape. But it is not even considered a crime here as the wife is owned by her man.
“A marriage is a bond of trust and that of affection. A husband exercising sexual superiority, by getting it on demand and through any means possible, is not part of the institution. Surprisingly, this is not, as yet, in any law book in India.” —India Law Journal
Oh and when we don’t even respect our own wives, what about the prostitutes in the country. They as such have no rights against rape. We are totally alien and not even remotely mature to the fact that even when she is selling her body, you cannot have sexual intercourse with her against her will.
In no-way in this article I am denying the fact that women need to be more aware of their surroundings and have their own measures of self-defense and precautions but I totally condemn the part of the society which blames women for their own rapes, which asks us not to dance in pubs because that provokes men, who tries to make us believe that covering our entire body will keep men away and rape cases, that when we dress in a certain way, we want men to do something to us, that after us, our parents are to be blamed if we are raped and that it is not possible for all the policemen to take care of all the women in the country. Let alone talking about what our ‘protectors’ think of us revealed by the recent cover article of the Tehelka Magazine which has disgusting statements like:
“If a girl is wearing transparent clothes it will encourage lewd thoughts in any kid. Girls wear short skirts. They wear a blouse that leaves nothing to the imagination. They don’t wear dupattas. They flaunt their bodies. The kid naturally gets attracted to her.” says Satbir Singh, Additional SHO of Sector 31 Police Station, Faridabad.
The question is: Can you dress for rape?
For our homemakers, our men and our policemen, it must be pretty easy to give out their judgement on a rape case but we should remember the fact that our support for ‘judgements’ like the ones above, in turn, allows potential sex criminals to get away with anything, even an open-and-shut case of rape.
Sometimes these things can get so frustrating that you feel like getting this entire bunch (thousands) of people and shoot them and then expect a fresh start! But yes, we are sane enough to understand that it won’t change anything.
So yes, do not expect us to wait behind those glass windows for a day when you shall bring security for us (instead of excuses). We shall still venture outside however unsafe the environment probably with our own ways of self-defense.
Our generation has seen many rebels throughout the world, fighting for their rights. Our next generation of women might just become rebels gone mad exposing some private lives and searching for their own means of self-defense. Just hope that they don’t.