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Rape Is Not Always About Sex: A Powerful Video Revealing A Crucial Yet Ignored Truth About Rapes

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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.

Because rape is not always about sex from Amrit Vatsa on Vimeo.

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 efforts here.

Video credits: Amrit Vatsa

You must be to comment.
  1. Babar

    In the video, she says “gender policing, by definition is when you force an individual to behave a certain way because of their gender.”

    The fact is, you don’t force an individual to behave a certain way, it is expected, because men and women are two different beings, emotionally, physically, and psychologically.

    The video has little to do with rape. The point that is really being stressed in the video, and has even used Kajol’s example in a movie, is that a women should be allowed to look like men, can have very short hair, and if anyone has a problem with that they are guilty of “gender policing.” The fact of the matter is, women look good with long hair. It adds to their beauty. That is what femininity is about. Would you like to see your father, brother, husband or son sporting back length hair, and your mother, daughter, sister, or wife coming home one day with hair barely there. It is not gender policing, it is what is called being NORMAL.

    The second half of the video deals with they women should not be victimized when they are out late at night. Later in the video a speaker asks, “how late is too late?” The answer is, being late out at night is a safety issue for both men and women. How many men are mugged, stabbed, and robbed when they were out late at night. If women are asked not be out late at night, it is due to COMMON SENSE, not gender policing.

  2. anshu

    Although I love how insightful and deep this video is, how it’s trying to educate and spread awareness amongst people with access to the internet and an easy comprehension of the American accent, I don’t think it reaches out to people it should really reach out to.
    Of course there is no negating the fact that men from any socio-economic background can rape and education has little role to play to prevent a man who has decided to rape, but there is no denying that most men that rape in INDIA belong from a lower socio-economic background. Most of them are illiterates hailing from MP, UP, Haryana, Bihar, South (read: everywhere) …rickshaw waalas, Chat panchayats who consider honour killing and female infanticide still a rage, farmers (even the rich ones), and even uneducated politicians.
    And these people are definitely not watching these powerful deep videos otherwise there would be some downward shift in the stats. So all am really saying is there are more than 161 million tv households, 200 million internet users in India and most of them DONOT follow the American accent or even sarcasm for that matter (Kalki-Juhi video; which was fab BTW).
    The point is if you really want to make a difference, then reach out to those people in a language they understand. Not that you aren’t doing a good job already but it does little to really change the world and its misconceptions.
    Like I already stated any man from anywhere can rape if he wants to rape but the attempt should be to educate and spread awareness at areas where the problem is at its peak.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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