Here”s Why Rape Is Not About Sex And Why Prostitution Will Not Solve The Problem

Posted on May 12, 2013 in Society

By Shibika Suresh:

These days, there seem to be a lot of people saying that prostitution should be legalized to help curb the rising rapes. In the light of the sudden increasing rape cases in the capital, many have come forward with this belief that providing paid-sex (which is precisely what prostitution is) will help decrease cases of rape. But it is a very wrongly conceived notion that a rapist is sex-deprived. Rape is not about sex, but a means of violence where sex is a weapon. It is about power, control, degradation, punishment and humiliation.

prostitutionMost of the recent rape cases involved young men whom curiosity and the adrenaline-rushes got the best of. The pathetic, sickening demeanour of such men, using candles and iron rods, could not only be a result of sexual tension. To say that a rapist was sexually unsatisfied, and therefore he raped, is yet another way for society to excuse rape.

Legalising prostitution, especially in the country like India where polar-opposite beliefs exist together, is a matter of huge debate and discussion. While some are of the belief that since commerce is legal and sexual contact is legal, combining the two should be legal as well; many others feel that legalising prostitution goes against the very basis of our beliefs and culture. The real question here is, whether giving a legal status to prostitution (basically offering sexual gratification in return for cash or kind) will help in curbing such heinous crimes in a country like ours.

Saying that legalizing prostitution would curb rapes means that sex-workers and their profession address the problem that causes rape. It seems to imply that the rapist was a poor victim of circumstances, which lead him to rape. On the contrary there is proof to believe that countless men without access to prostitutes do not rape at all. The belief that sex is why rapists are led to rape can also be taken as an insult to men at large. Essentially it means that men need sex or they rape, and that sex should be provided by society to keep their girls safe. The whole thing comes down to this: In order to protect the ‘purity’ and ‘chastity’ of some women, its okay to inflict the worst of cruelty to others who don’t deserve the ‘protection’ that society has to offer.

The need to legalize prostitution should not come up because it has a remote possibility of curbing a social evil. It should arise because we as a society feel that the sex workers need their share of respect and rights. Because they should be guaranteed human rights and strict standards of health and cleanliness. Because there should be a check on human trafficking and the undesirable figure of middlemen should be abolished.

In a rapist’s mind a woman is not a person, but an object that is symbolic of whatever or whoever the rapist wants to humiliate – could be a relative, could be a caste. As long as that desire is there, as long as the view of women as possessions is there, we cannot hope to defeat rape by providing a greater variety of women. As long as stereotypes about women make rounds through generations, we cannot hope for establishing a rational society, with a broad-spectrum thinking. Society has to stop associating a woman’s ‘virtue’ with her worth as a human.

What we need for preventing rapes directly is strong law enforcement, consistent policing, reliable and prompt sentencing, and not more women being exploited. There should be stigma and social condemnation attached to the rapist. What we need is a more sensible society, which learns to logically reason situations, and not come up with such theories that exploit women as objects of sexual desire and propagate the view that if we keep sex easily available for men, we can prevent rapes.

Should prostitution be legalized? Yes. Should we hope that rapes will decrease because of it? Certainly not.

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