By Shreena Thakore:
The problem of rape is not limited to the act of rape. An act of violence cannot be seen in isolation from the social systems within which it occurs. When you start asking the most basic questions – Who committed the act? Who was violated? How was it committed? Why was it committed? Where, what, when? – What emerges is a tangled web of class, caste, identity, politics, religion, law and social infrastructure.
While all acts of rape are seemingly similar in their physicality, they are manifestations of various different social injustices. Every act of sexual violence is nested within a much broader network of other social imbalances. These include the deeply ingrained power imbalances in social perceptions of men and women; the conflict between treating sexuality taboo and overexposure to hypersexualized imagery; cultural adaptation and reaction to rapid modernization; politicians, police officers and even doctors trivializing rape or perpetuating victim-blaming, and a million other things.
Our understanding of the situation is also mediated by the interrelationship between systems and social norms. For instance, the commonplace misunderstanding that the bond of marriage implies in the form of universal, non-negotiable consent leads to the non-recognition of marital rape by law, which in turn leads to false statistics as no cases of marital rape can be reported. Similarly, rape is often portrayed by the media to be an act inflicted by a lower-class, uneducated, rural, sexually frustrated male, when in fact, statistics show that most rapists are actually known by the victim. Such media rhetoric further enforces class-class divides.
These alongside a thousand other issues in society are all deeply linked to the problem of rape. Until and unless we fully understand the problem in its entirety, the scope of our solutions will stay limited.
The video explores one contributing factor to rape – gender policing. It explains how rape is often used as corrective punishment to enforce an individual to act according to their gender. It is a mini-documentary of a workshop by No Country For Women – co-founded by Shreena Thakore and Ria Vaidya. It demonstrates how the issue of rape is not just an issue of sexual frustration.
There is a wide gap between the knowledge base of academia, where the socio-cultural causes of rape are analyzed, and the space of activism, where social change is actually executed. Due to this disconnect, change makers are not equipped with the appropriate analytical and introspective tools to effect lasting change. No Country For Women aims to rectify this by firmly situating action within education. It makes high-level academic material on the causes of rape accessible to students, activists and aspiring change makers, and facilitates its use as the basis for more powerful solutions.
No Country For Women conducts workshops, organizes conferences and gives talks across the nation, in schools, colleges and workplaces. These workshops focus on opening conversation about the roots of rape and developing effective long-term solutions. These workshops are completely free so that cost is not a barrier to awareness. The only source of funding currently is through a crowd funding campaign. If you like their work, please support their effortsÂ here.
Video credits: Amrit Vatsa